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Preview: Brightsurf Science News :: Pluto News

Pluto Current Events and Pluto News from Brightsurf

Pluto Current Events and Pluto News Events, Discoveries and Articles from Brightsurf

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Pluto's largest moon, Charon, gets its first official feature names

Thu, 12 Apr 18 00:05:30 -0700

Legendary explorers and visionaries, real and fictitious, are among those immortalized by the IAU in the first set of official surface-feature names for Pluto's largest moon, Charon. The names were proposed by the New Horizons team and approved by IAU Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature.

An amazingly wide variety of disks

Thu, 12 Apr 18 00:08:10 -0700

With an instrument at the Very Large Telescope in Chile scientists of ETH Zurich observed planet-forming disks around young stars similar to the sun 4,5 billion years ago. Surprisingly, the disks are very different. The data will help to shed more light on the formation processes of planets.

NASA's Webb Telescope to make a splash in search for interstellar water

Fri, 09 Mar 18 00:14:50 -0800

Water is crucial for life, but how do you make water? Cooking up some H2O takes more than mixing hydrogen and oxygen. It requires the special conditions found deep within frigid molecular clouds, where dust shields against destructive ultraviolet light and aids chemical reactions. NASA's James Webb Space Telescope will peer into these cosmic reservoirs to gain new insights into the origin and evolution of water and other key building blocks for habitable planets.

Johns Hopkins scientist proposes new limit on the definition of a planet

Mon, 22 Jan 18 00:14:20 -0800

A planet can be no bigger than about 10 times the size of Jupiter, an astrophysicist has calculated.

Pluto's hydrocarbon haze keeps dwarf planet colder than expected

Wed, 15 Nov 17 00:10:30 -0800

The gas composition of a planet's atmosphere generally determines how much heat gets trapped in the atmosphere. For the dwarf planet Pluto, however, the predicted temperature based on the composition of its atmosphere was much higher than actual measurements taken by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft in 2015. A new study published November 16 in Nature proposes a novel cooling mechanism controlled by haze particles to account for Pluto's frigid atmosphere.

Small collisions make big impact on Mercury's thin atmosphere

Fri, 29 Sep 17 00:04:50 -0700

Mercury, our smallest planetary neighbor, has very little to call an atmosphere, but it does have a strange weather pattern: morning micro-meteor showers.

Pluto features given first official names

Thu, 07 Sep 17 00:00:00 -0700

The Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature of the International Astronomical Union has officially approved the naming of 14 features on the surface of Pluto. These are the first geological features on the planet to be named following the close flyby by the New Horizons spacecraft in July 2015.

American pika disappears from large area of California's Sierra Nevada mountains

Wed, 30 Aug 17 00:14:20 -0700

The American pika, a small mammal adapted to high altitudes and cold temperatures, has died out from a 165-square-mile span of habitat in California's northern Sierra Nevada mountains, and the cause appears to be climate change. Researchers surveyed pika habitat throughout the north Lake Tahoe area and found that pikas had disappeared from an area that stretches from near Tahoe City to Truckee, more than 10 miles away, and includes Mount Pluto.

Tracking a solar eruption through the solar system

Tue, 15 Aug 17 00:05:30 -0700

Ten spacecraft, from ESA's Venus Express to NASA's Voyager-2, felt the effect of a solar eruption as it washed through the solar system while three other satellites watched, providing a unique perspective on this space weather event.

NASA, ESA spacecraft track solar storm through space

Tue, 15 Aug 17 00:05:50 -0700

Using seven spacecraft, along with computer models, scientists have pieced together the journey of a coronal mass ejection from the Sun outward to Mars, Comet 67P, Jupiter and even the New Horizons spacecraft now beyond Pluto.

The last survivors on Earth

Fri, 14 Jul 17 00:11:50 -0700

The world's most indestructible species, the tardigrade, an eight-legged micro-animal, also known as the water bear, will survive until the sun dies, according to a new Oxford University collaboration.

New evidence in support of the Planet Nine hypothesis

Wed, 12 Jul 17 00:01:40 -0700

Last year, the existence of an unknown planet in our Solar system was announced. However, this hypothesis was subsequently called into question as biases in the observational data were detected. Now Spanish astronomers have used a novel technique to analyze the orbits of the so-called extreme trans-Neptunian objects and, once again, they point out that there is something perturbing them: a planet located at a distance between 300 to 400 times the Earth-Sun separation.

Hubble astronomers use a century-old relativity experiment to measure a white dwarf's mass

Thu, 08 Jun 17 00:09:40 -0700

Astronomers have used the sharp vision of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope to repeat a century-old test of Einstein's general theory of relativity. The Hubble team measured the mass of a white dwarf, the burned-out remnant of a normal star, by seeing how much it deflects the light from a background star.

Engines of twingenuity: NASA's twin study investigators have a meeting of the minds

Thu, 25 May 17 00:14:30 -0700

NASA's Twins Study investigators met in Houston this week to discuss findings from the final data collections.

SwRI-led Juno mission to Jupiter delivers first science results

Thu, 25 May 17 00:10:20 -0700

NASA's Juno mission, led by Southwest Research Institute's Dr. Scott Bolton, is rewriting what scientists thought they knew about Jupiter specifically, and gas giants in general, according to a pair of Science papers released today. The Juno spacecraft has been in orbit around Jupiter since July 2016, passing within 3,000 miles of the equatorial cloudtops.

Joint UTSA-SwRI study shows how radioactive decay could support extraterrestrial life

Mon, 22 May 17 00:05:30 -0700

In the icy bodies around our solar system, radiation emitted from rocky cores could break up water molecules and support hydrogen-eating microbes. To address this cosmic possibility, a University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) team modeled a natural water-cracking process called radiolysis. They then applied the model to several worlds with known or suspected interior oceans, including Saturn's moon Enceladus, Jupiter's moon Europa, Pluto and its moon Charon, as well as the dwarf planet Ceres.

Hubble spots moon around third largest dwarf planet

Thu, 18 May 17 00:03:00 -0700

Astronomers uncovered a moon orbiting the third largest dwarf planet, 2007 OR10, in the frigid outskirts of our solar system called the Kuiper Belt.

Astrophysicists find that planetary harmonies around TRAPPIST-1 save it from destruction

Wed, 10 May 17 00:04:10 -0700

U of T astrophysicists create a digital symphony to highlight the unique configuration of the recently discovered TRAPPIST-1 system.

The first microbial supertree from figure-mining thousands of papers

Tue, 09 May 17 00:02:50 -0700

Recent reports reveal there are more than 114,000,000 published academic papers. Finding ways to efficiently summarize across published knowledge is an increasingly pressing issue. Seeking to address the problem through their PLUTo workflow, British scientists perform the world's first attempt at automated phylogenetic supertree construction using data exclusively extracted by machines from published figure images. Their results are published in the open science journal Research Ideas and Outcomes (RIO).

Saturn spacecraft toting CU Boulder instrument starts swan song

Wed, 26 Apr 17 00:04:10 -0700

Toting a $12 million instrument built by the University of Colorado Boulder, NASA's Cassini spacecraft made the first of 22 dives between the rings of Saturn and the gaseous planet today, the beginning of the end for one of NASA's most successful missions ever.

ALMA investigates 'DeeDee,' a distant, dim member of our solar system

Wed, 12 Apr 17 00:03:40 -0700

Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), astronomers have revealed extraordinary details about a recently discovered far-flung member of our solar system, the planetary body 2014 UZ224, more informally known as DeeDee.

RIT scientist measures brightness of the universe with NASA's New Horizons spacecraft

Tue, 11 Apr 17 00:08:40 -0700

Images taken by NASA's New Horizons mission on its way to Pluto, and now the Kuiper Belt, have given scientists an unexpected tool for measuring the brightness of all the galaxies in the universe, said a Rochester Institute of Technology researcher in a paper published this week in Nature Communications.

Fledgling stars try to prevent their neighbors from birthing planets

Wed, 22 Mar 17 00:13:20 -0700

Stars don't have to be massive to evaporate material from around nearby stars and affect their ability to form planets, a new study suggests.

Scientists make the case to restore Pluto's planet status

Fri, 17 Mar 17 00:15:30 -0700

Kirby Runyon wants to make one thing clear: regardless of what one prestigious scientific organization says to the contrary, Pluto is a planet. So, he says, is Europa, commonly known as a moon of Jupiter, and so is the Earth's moon, and so are more than 100 other celestial bodies in our solar system that are denied this status under the prevailing definition of 'planet.'

Sandia scientist named fellow for diverse contributions to aeronautics, space research

Fri, 03 Mar 17 00:15:10 -0800

Gary Polansky, the chief scientist for hypersonic technology development and applications at Sandia National Laboratories, has been named a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).

Official naming of surface features on Pluto and its satellites: First step approved

Thu, 23 Feb 17 00:08:40 -0800

The New Horizons flyby of Pluto and its satellites returned a scientific treasure trove of information about these distant and surprisingly complex worlds, showing a vast nitrogen glacier as well as ice mountains, canyons, cliffs, craters and more. Now the categories for official names have been approved and the name proposals can be submitted by the New Horizons team.

From rocks in Colorado, evidence of a 'chaotic solar system'

Wed, 22 Feb 17 00:13:30 -0800

Plumbing a 90 million-year-old layer cake of sedimentary rock in Colorado, a team of scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Northwestern University has found evidence confirming a critical theory of how the planets in our solar system behave in their orbits around the sun. The finding, published Feb. 23, 2017 in the journal Nature, is important because it provides the first hard proof for what scientists call the ''chaotic solar system.'

New data about 2 distant asteroids give a clue to the possible 'Planet Nine'

Tue, 21 Feb 17 00:11:10 -0800

The dynamical properties of these asteroids, observed spectroscopiccally for the first time using the Gran Telescopio CANARIAS, suggest a possible common origin and give a clue to the existence of a planet beyond Pluto, the so-called 'Planet Nine.'

Does our solar system have an undiscovered planet? You can help astronomers find out

Wed, 15 Feb 17 00:15:20 -0800

ASU's Adam Schneider and colleagues are hunting for runaway worlds in the space between stars, and citizen scientists can join the search with a new NASA-funded website.

NASA-funded website lets public search for new nearby worlds

Wed, 15 Feb 17 00:04:00 -0800

You can help astronomers search for new worlds lurking in the outer reaches of our solar system and in neighboring interstellar space. NASA is inviting the public on the hunt through a new website, Backyard Worlds: Planet 9.

New research shows Ceres may have vanishing ice volcanoes

Thu, 02 Feb 17 00:00:50 -0800

A recently discovered solitary ice volcano on the dwarf planet Ceres may have some hidden older siblings, say scientists who have tested a likely way such mountains of icy rock -- called cryovolcanoes -- might disappear over millions of years.

How a moon slows the decay of Pluto's atmosphere

Mon, 09 Jan 17 00:14:30 -0800

A new study from the Georgia Institute of Technology provides additional insight into relationship between Pluto and its moon, Charon, and how it affects the continuous stripping of Pluto's atmosphere by solar wind. When Charon is positioned between the sun and Pluto, the research indicates that the moon can significantly reduce atmospheric loss.

York U research identifies icy ridges on Pluto

Wed, 04 Jan 17 00:13:50 -0800

Using a model similar to what meteorologists use to forecast weather on Earth and a computer simulation of the physics of evaporating ices, a new study by York University's Professor John Moores, Department of Earth and Space Science and Engineering at York's Lassonde School of Engineering, has found evidence that snow and ice features previously only seen on Earth, have been spotted on Pluto.

VLA, ALMA team up to give first look at birthplaces of most current stars

Tue, 20 Dec 16 00:10:50 -0800

VLA and ALMA show distant galaxies seen as they were when most of today's stars were being born, answering longstanding questions about mechanisms of star formation billions of years ago.

Modeling offers new perspective on how Pluto's 'icy heart' came to be

Wed, 30 Nov 16 00:10:10 -0800

Pluto's 'icy heart' is a bright, two-lobed feature on its surface that has attracted researchers ever since its discovery. Of particular interest is the heart's western lobe, informally named Sputnik Planitia, whose unique attributes have spurred a number of scenarios for its formation, all of which identify the feature as an impact basin. A new study suggests that Sputnik Planitia formed early in Pluto's history and that its attributes are inevitable consequences of evolutionary processes.

Pluto follows its cold, cold heart

Wed, 16 Nov 16 00:10:00 -0800

Pluto's 'heart' may be cold as ice, but it's in the right place, according to research by University of Arizona scientists who believe the iconic region of frozen ice may have shifted its location -- and dragged the entire planet with it.

New analysis adds to support for a subsurface ocean on Pluto

Wed, 16 Nov 16 00:06:00 -0800

A liquid ocean lying deep beneath Pluto's frozen surface is the best explanation for features revealed by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft, according to a new analysis. The idea that Pluto has a subsurface ocean is not new, but the study provides the most detailed investigation yet of its likely role in the evolution of key features such as the vast, low-lying plain known as Sputnik Planitia (formerly Sputnik Planum).

A slushy ocean may lie beneath Pluto's heart-shaped basin

Wed, 16 Nov 16 00:02:30 -0800

Beneath Pluto's 'heart' lies a cold, slushy ocean of water ice, according to data from NASA's New Horizons mission. In a paper to be published in the journal Nature, the New Horizons team, including researchers from MIT, reports that the dwarf planet's most prominent surface feature -- a heart-shaped region named Tombaugh Regio -- may harbor a bulging, viscous, liquid ocean just below its surface.

Exotic property of salty solutions discovered

Thu, 10 Nov 16 00:04:00 -0800

Water and aqueous solutions can behave strangely under pressure. Experiments carried out at the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences showed that magnesium sulfate dissolved in water was separated less than expected in magnesium and sulfate ions above a pressure of 0.2 Gigapascal. The anomaly is relevant for studies on cold planetary bodies with deep oceans. Christian Schmidt and Craig Manning of UCLA published their findings in Geochemical Perspectives Letters.

Mystery solved behind birth of Saturn's rings

Mon, 31 Oct 16 00:12:40 -0700

A team of researchers have presented a new model for the origin of Saturn's rings based on results of computer simulations. The results of the simulations are also applicable to rings of other giant planets and explain the compositional differences between the rings of Saturn and Uranus. The findings were published on Oct. 6 in the online version of Icarus.

Science: Public interest high, literacy stable

Fri, 28 Oct 16 00:10:20 -0700

While public interest in science continues to grow, the level of US scientific literacy remains largely unchanged, according to a survey by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research.

Alan Stern, New Horizons receive Cosmos Award for Public Presentation of Science

Tue, 18 Oct 16 00:12:00 -0700

The principal investigator and team behind NASA's New Horizons mission to Pluto received the Cosmos Award for Outstanding Public Presentation of Science. The Planetary Society presented the award last night at the joint meeting of the American Astronomical Society Division for Planetary Sciences and the European Planetary Science Congress in Pasadena, Calif. Dr. Alan Stern, associate vice president of the Southwest Research Institute Space Science and Engineering Division, serves as the New Horizons mission principal investigator.

Tatooine worlds orbiting 2 suns often survive violent escapades of aging stars

Wed, 12 Oct 16 00:10:20 -0700

Planets that revolve around two suns may surprisingly survive the violent late stages of the stars' lives, according to new research out of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and York University. The finding is surprising because planets orbiting close to a single sun would be destroyed when the aging star swells into a red giant. The study found that planets orbiting two stars often escape death and destruction by moving out to wider orbits.

Images from Sun's edge reveal origins of solar wind

Thu, 01 Sep 16 00:06:20 -0700

Ever since the 1950s discovery of the solar wind -- the constant flow of charged particles from the Sun -- there's been a stark disconnect between this outpouring and the sun itself. The details of the transition from defined rays in the corona, the Sun's upper atmosphere, to the solar wind have been, until now, a mystery.

Hunt for ninth planet reveals new extremely distant solar system objects

Mon, 29 Aug 16 00:09:00 -0700

In the race to discover a proposed ninth planet in our solar system, Carnegie's Scott Sheppard and Chadwick Trujillo of Northern Arizona University have observed several never-before-seen objects at extreme distances from the sun in our solar system. Sheppard and Trujillo have now submitted their latest discoveries to the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center for official designations.

Decades of discovery: NASA's exploration of Jupiter

Fri, 05 Aug 16 00:01:30 -0700

Launched five years ago on Aug. 5, 2011, NASA's Juno mission maneuvered into orbit around Jupiter on July 4, 2016, joining a long tradition of discovery at the gas giant.

SwRI's Spencer selected for AGU's Whipple Award

Tue, 12 Jul 16 00:15:20 -0700

Dr. John Spencer, an Institute scientist at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), is receiving the 2016 Planetary Sciences Section Whipple Award from the American Geophysical Union (AGU). The award, named for comet astronomer Fred Whipple, recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions in the field of planetary science. Spencer will receive the award and present the Whipple Lecture at the 2016 AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco in December.

Newly discovered planet has 3 suns

Thu, 07 Jul 16 00:15:30 -0700

A team of astronomers led by the University of Arizona has discovered a planet in a unique position between three stars. The finding shows that massive planets may be found on long and possibly unstable orbits in multi-star systems, expanding current models of how star systems and their planets form.

Hubble captures vivid auroras in Jupiter's atmosphere

Thu, 30 Jun 16 00:01:30 -0700

Astronomers are using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to study auroras -- stunning light shows in a planet's atmosphere -- on the poles of the largest planet in the Solar System, Jupiter. This observation programme is supported by measurements made by NASA's Juno spacecraft, currently on its way to Jupiter.

SwRI's Alan Stern receives Distinguished Public Service Medal

Tue, 28 Jun 16 00:16:30 -0700

New Horizons leader recognized for successful Pluto mission that completed initial reconnaissance of the solar system.