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Some Of Best Earth-Bound Images Yet Of Distant Planet Neptune Captured By Cornell-Designed Camera On Palomar Telescope

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— ITHACA, N.Y. -- The heavens are sharper than ever before to the Earth-bound watcher, thanks to astronomers at Cornell University and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Cornell researchers have built an infrared camera for the California Institute of Technology's 200-inch Hale telescope at Palomar Observatory on the summit of California's Palomar Mountain that is providing detailed images unobstructed by ...

— ITHACA, N.Y. -- The heavens are sharper than ever before to the Earth-bound watcher, thanks to astronomers at Cornell University and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Cornell researchers have built an infrared camera for the California Institute of Technology's 200-inch Hale telescope at Palomar Observatory on the...

Vast Stellar Disks Set Stage For Planet Birth In New Hubble Images

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— Dramatic pictures of eerie disks of dust encircling young stars are giving astronomers a new look at what may be the early formative stages of planetary systems.

Although these pictures from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope don't show planets, the edge-on disks seen by Hubble provide some of the clearest views to date of potential planetary construction zones, say researchers. The images also offer a peek at what...

— Dramatic pictures of eerie disks of dust encircling young stars are...

Hubble Provides A Moving Look At Neptune's Stormy Disposition

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— MADISON - Using powerful ground- and space-based telescopes, scientists have obtained a moving look at some of the wildest, weirdest weather in the solar system.

Combining simultaneous observations of Neptune made with the Hubble Space Telescope and NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, a team of scientists led by Lawrence A. Sromovsky of the University of Wisconsin-Madison has captured the...

— MADISON - Using powerful ground- and space-based telescopes...

Jupiter's Atmosphere Gives Clues On How Solar System Started

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— Jupiter's atmosphere indicates icy beginnings. A finding that calls into question prevailing models of how our solar system was formed.

ANN ARBOR --- A new analysis of data collected by the Galileo spacecraft's suicide probe as it plunged into Jupiter's roiling atmosphere in December 1995 has stamped a huge question mark over the prevailing models of how our solar system began.

According to an international team...

— Jupiter's atmosphere indicates icy beginnings. A finding that...

Study of volcanoes in the outer solar system produces unexpected bonus for nanotechnology

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— Mysterious expanding ice crystals in the moons of Saturn and Neptune may be of interest to future developers of microelectronics. Neutron scattering has discovered that methanol crystals that may be found in outer solar system 'ice lavas' have unusual expansion properties. The unexpected finding by a British planetary geologist using neutrons at the Institut Laue-Langevin and the ISIS neutron source will interest ...

— Mysterious expanding ice crystals in the moons of Saturn and...

Dust models paint alien's view of the solar system

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— New supercomputer simulations tracking the interactions of thousands of dust grains show what the solar system might look like to alien astronomers searching for planets. The models also provide a glimpse of how this view might have changed as our planetary system matured.

"The planets may be too dim to detect directly, but aliens studying the solar system could easily determine the presence of Neptune -- its...

— New supercomputer simulations tracking the interactions of thousands of...

Pounding particles to create Neptune's water in the lab

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— We know 'icy' Neptune is partially comprised of water molecules but until now we have had little means to test how water behaves in the extreme conditions that Neptune presents.

This is about to change as an international group of physicists draw up plans to use the new Facility for Antiprotons and Ion Research (FAIR) in Germany, which will be ready in 2015, to expose water molecules to heavy ion beams and thereby...

— We know 'icy' Neptune is partially comprised of water molecules...

Cometary impact on Neptune: Herschel data point to collision about two centuries ago

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— A comet may have hit the planet Neptune about two centuries ago. This is indicated by the distribution of carbon monoxide in the atmosphere of the gas giant that researchers -- among them scientists from the French obser-vatory LESIA in Paris, from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Re-search (MPS) in Katlenburg-Lindau (Germany) and from the Max Planck Insti-tute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching ...

— A comet may have hit the planet Neptune about two centuries ago. This...

'This planet tastes funny,' according to Spitzer Space Telescope

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— NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has discovered something odd about a distant planet -- it lacks methane, an ingredient common to many of the planets in our solar system.

"It's a big puzzle," said Kevin Stevenson, a planetary sciences graduate student at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, lead author of a study appearing April 22 in the journal Nature. "Models tell us that the carbon in this planet should...

— NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has discovered something odd about...

Galileo's Notebooks May Reveal Secrets Of New Planet

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— Galileo knew he had discovered a new planet in 1613, 234 years before its official discovery date, according to a new theory by a University of Melbourne physicist.

Professor David Jamieson, Head of the School of Physics, is investigating the notebooks of Galileo from 400 years ago and believes that buried in the notations is the evidence that he discovered a new planet that we now know as Neptune.

A hypothesis of...

— Galileo knew he had discovered a new planet in 1613, 234 years...

New Technique Could Find Water On Earth-like Planets Orbiting Distant Suns

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BestAstronomy (May 26, 2009) — Since the early 1990s astronomers have discovered more than 300 planets orbiting stars other than our sun, nearly all of them gas giants like Jupiter. Powerful space telescopes, such as the one that is central to NASA's recently launched Kepler Mission, will make it easier to spot much smaller rocky extrasolar planets, or exoplanets, more similar to Earth.

But seen from dozens of light years away, an Earth-like exoplanet will appear in telescopes...

Mass-loss Leaves Close-in Exoplanets Exposed To The Core

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— An international team of scientists has found that giant exoplanets orbiting very close to their stars could lose a quarter of their mass during their lifetime.  The team found that planets that orbit closer than 2% of an Astronomical Unit (AU), the distance between the Earth and the Sun, may lose their atmospheres completely, leaving just their core.

The team, led by Dr Helmut Lammer of the Space Research Institute...

— An international team of scientists has found that giant...

'Super-Neptune' Exoplanet Discovered

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— Astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics have discovered a planet somewhat larger and more massive than Neptune orbiting a star 120 light-years from Earth. While Neptune has a diameter 3.8 times that of Earth and a mass 17 times Earth's, the new world (named HAT-P-11b) is 4.7 times the size of Earth and has 25 Earth masses.

HAT-P-11b was discovered because it passes directly in front of...

— Astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics have...

Wobbly Planets Could Reveal Earth-like Moons

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— Moons outside our Solar System with the potential to support life have just become much easier to detect, thanks to research by an astronomer at University College London (UCL).

David Kipping has found that such moons can be revealed by looking at wobbles in the velocity of the planets they orbit. His calculations, which appear in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society December 11, not only allow us...

— Moons outside our Solar System with the potential to support life...

Comets Throw Light On Solar System's Beginnings

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— A new picture of the composition of comets is emerging with the help of 21st century technology available at Diamond, the UK’s national synchrotron light source, in Oxfordshire.

Scientists already know that comets played a significant role in ensuring that conditions were right for life on Earth. Most of the icy, small planetary bodies that otherwise became comets went into forming the gas giant planets in the outer...

— A new picture of the composition of comets is emerging with...

Astronomers Discover Missing Link For Origin Of Comets

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— An international team of scientists that includes University of British Columbia astronomer Brett Gladman has found an unusual object whose backward and tilted orbit around the Sun may clarify the origins of certain comets.

In the first discovery of its kind, researchers from Canada, France and the United States have discovered an object that orbits around the Sun backwards, and tilted at an angle of 104 degrees – a...

— An international team of scientists that includes University...

Trio Of Super-Earths: Harvest Of Low-mass Exoplanets Discovered With HARPS

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— European astronomers have announced a remarkable breakthrough in the field of extra-solar planets. Using the HARPS instrument at the ESO La Silla Observatory, they have found a triple system of super-Earths around the star HD 40307. Moreover, looking at their entire sample studied with HARPS, the astronomers count a total of 45 candidate planets with a mass below 30 Earth masses and an orbital period shorter than ...

— European astronomers have announced a remarkable breakthrough in...

Hunt For Superearth Planets Underway

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— NASA's EPOXI mission, which uses the Deep Impact spacecraft, has begun its search for "super Earth" planets.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center scientist, Dr. Drake Deming, presented an update on the mission on June 2, 2008 at the 212th American Astronomical Society in St. Louis, MO.

The EPOXI team has focused its attention on the star GJ436. This red dwarf star which is 32 light-years from Earth has a Neptune-sized...

— NASA's EPOXI mission, which uses the Deep Impact spacecraft, has...

Physicist Reads Solar System's History In Grains Of Comet Dust

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— Four years ago, NASA's Stardust spacecraft chased down a comet and collected grains of dust blowing off its nucleus. When the spacecraft Comet Wild-2 returned, comet dust was shipped to scientists all over the world, including University of Minnesota physics professor Bob Pepin. After testing helium and neon trapped in the dust specks, Pepin and his colleagues report that while the comet formed in the icy fringes ...

— Four years ago, NASA's Stardust spacecraft chased down a comet and...

Astronomers Discover Record Fifth Planet Around Nearby Star 55 Cancri

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— Astronomers have discovered a record-breaking fifth planet around the nearby star 55 Cancri, making it the only star aside from the sun known to have five planets.

The discovery comes after 19 years of observations of 55 Cancri and represents a milestone for the California and Carnegie Planet Search team, which this year celebrates the 20th anniversary of its first attempts to find extrasolar planets by analyzing the...

— Astronomers have discovered a record-breaking fifth planet...

Dwarf Galaxies Need Dark Matter Too, Astronomers Say

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— Stars in dwarf spheroidal galaxies behave in a way that suggests the galaxies are utterly dominated by dark matter, University of Michigan astronomers have found.

Astronomy professor Mario Mateo and post-doctoral researcher Matthew Walker measured the velocity of 6,804 stars in seven dwarf satellite galaxies of the Milky Way: Carina, Draco, Fornax, Leo I, Leo II, Sculptor and Sextans. They found that, contrary to...

— Stars in dwarf spheroidal galaxies behave in a way that suggests...