solar system

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Humanity Is About to Get Its Closest Ever Look at Jupiter

Juno probe scheduled to enter Jupiter's orbit July 4

(Newser) - Three Lego figures are about to get closer to Jupiter than humanity has ever been. The Legos—representations of Galileo and the Roman gods Jupiter and Juno made out of "spacecraft-grade" aluminum—are aboard NASA's Juno probe, which is scheduled to enter Jupiter's orbit July 4, the... More »

Why Astronomers Named This Comet After a Cat

C/2014 S3, now a 'Manx comet,' has no tail

(Newser) - The discovery was so unusual that at first astronomers didn't know what to call it. A comet bearing the official name C/2014 S3 also bore no tail—which isn't just unusual, but the first ever to be observed by humans, reports Reuters . Moreover, it was dark and rocky,... More »

Finally, an Explanation for Mercury's Dark Surface

Comets didn't carry in the carbon, but rather disrupted what was already there

(Newser) - Mercury's mysterious surface darkness has baffled scientists: Though it's far closer to the sun than our moon, the latter reflects more sunlight. Last year, it was proposed that the root cause is carbon. As Patrick Peplowski of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory tells the Christian Science ... More »

Scientists: There May Be a Giant 9th Planet Past Pluto

Sorry, Pluto—'Planet 9' may be more of a 'massive perturber' than you

(Newser) - Pluto is gonna be PO'd. While the dwarf planet tries to fight its way back into the good graces of Those Who Deem What Counts as a Planet, another icy orb even further out may snatch that designation first. Astronomers at the California Institute of Technology say a giant... More »

Scientists Explain Key Wrinkle in Moon's Formation

Planetary collision theory gains support

(Newser) - How did our moon come to be? The dominant theory holds that it broke off of the Earth when another planet collided with ours, about 4.5 billion years ago. But if that's the case, it seems suspicious to scientists that the moon is made of material very like... More »

Jupiter Made Our Solar System Weird

Wandering planet wiped out early super-Earths

(Newser) - As astronomers get a better look at the planets circling other stars, it's becoming increasingly apparent that our solar system is pretty strange—and Jupiter seems to be the reason why. Most other solar systems appear to have at least one large planet orbiting very close to the star,... More »

Star Once Passed 'Astronomically Close' to Earth

It was less than a light-year away

(Newser) - Somewhere out there is a trivia question asking for the name of the star closest to our solar system. The answer has long been Proxima Centauri, a mere 4.2 light-years away. But now astronomers say that another star came five times closer about 70,000 years ago, they write... More »

Most Ancient Solar System Is Found

It's a miniature version of our own solar system's inner planets

(Newser) - Just how ancient is a newly discovered solar system? "By the time the Earth formed, the planets in this system were already older than our planet is today," University of Birmingham researcher Tiago Campante tells the BBC . The solar system—a star named Kepler-444 that's orbited by... More »

Ancient Meteorites Change Story of Earth's Water

Study: Water on Earth appears to have arrived 4.6B years ago

(Newser) - At least when it comes to life as we know it, water is a basic requirement. So a new analysis of meteorites suggesting that water could have appeared on Earth 14 million years after the start of solar system some 4.6 billion years ago—more than a hundred million... More »

Water on Earth Older Than Sun, Earth Itself

Water molecules more than 4.5 billion years old are in our drinking water, oceans

(Newser) - If you live and die by food and beverage expiration dates, you might not want to know how old some of our drinking water is. A study finds that 30% to 50% of the water found in our taps and oceans contains molecules created more than 4.5 billion years... More »

NASA: That 'Thigh Bone' on Mars Was Really a...

...rock. Sorry.

(Newser) - Sorry, ET lovers: That "fossilized thigh bone" spotted on Mars this week was really just (can you bear the tension) a rock, NASA says. "No bones about it!" writes the agency on its website . "Mission science team members think its shape is likely sculpted by erosion,... More »

'Magic Island' Spotted on Saturn Moon

Mysterious bright spot may be geological activity on Titan

(Newser) - Astronomers are feeling giddy about a flash of light on a very odd moon, phys.org reports. Radar images show that a bright object appeared briefly on Saturn's moon Titan, possible proof of geological activity on a lunar surface that boasts wind, rain, lakes, and seas (though liquid methane... More »

New Dwarf Planet 'Biden' May Offer Cosmic Secrets

Discovery at solar system's edge hints at more to come

(Newser) - Astronomers, and reporters who cover astronomy, are pretty excited today about the discovery of a suspected dwarf planet named 2012 VP-113—and thus nicknamed "Biden"—in the nether regions of the solar system beyond Pluto. Some snippets:
  • Nature : "The Solar System just got a lot more far-flung.
... More »

Mercury Has Been Shrinking

Slow cooling has created stunning features

(Newser) - The solar system's smallest planet is getting even smaller, but there's not much danger of Mercury disappearing completely: The planet has shrunk as many as 8.6 miles in diameter over the last 4 billion years, according to new research , making its current diameter roughly 3,032 miles.... More »

NASA Hits 715-Planet 'Jackpot'

Kepler data massively boosts number of known worlds

(Newser) - NASA says it has almost doubled the number of planets known to humanity with a "bonanza" uncovered by its planet-hunting Kepler telescope. The 715 new planets orbit 305 stars in multi-planet systems like our own, and 94% of them are smaller than Neptune. NASA says it has found... More »

OK, Voyager Has Definitely Left Solar System: NASA

And it's the first man-made object to have ever done so

(Newser) - The Voyager 1 has officially become the first man-made object to cross out of the solar system and into interstellar space—no, really this time. After a series of mistaken and controversial reports, NASA today published a study concluding that the probe definitively crossed the threshold of charged particles and... More »

Voyager May Have Left Solar System—a Year Ago

Blended magnetic fields at solar system's edge blurred crossing: study

(Newser) - The Voyager 1 spacecraft, expected to leave our solar system any day now , may actually have already done so—more than a year ago. Though similar reports were squashed earlier this year, a new study in Astrophysical Journal Letters suggests that the craft passed beyond the solar system's edge... More »

Hunch Leads Astronomer to New Neptune Moon

Planet's 14th moon is just 12 miles across

(Newser) - An astronomer poring over old images from the Hubble Space Telescope has discovered a previously unknown 14th moon of Neptune. SETI Institute researcher Mark Showalter—who has five other moon discoveries to his name—followed a hunch while studying ring segments around the planet and tracked a white dot to... More »

Earth Once Had a 2nd Moon: Scientist

Theory gets new life breathed into it

(Newser) - Earth may have once looked a little more like Mars: a planet with two moons. It's not the first time the theory has been trotted out by Erik Asphaug, but it's getting new life thanks to an upcoming conference about our natural satellite. The University of California at... More »

NASA Spots Solar System's 'Tail'

Much like a comet, our sun leaves a streak in its wake

(Newser) - If you were to look on our solar system from afar, it wouldn't look like a bunch of stationary spheres, but like a comet, streaking across the sky with a tail trailing behind it. Scientists had always assumed this, but now NASA has for the first time gotten a... More »

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