solar system

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It Turns Out Venus Is Not Our Closest Neighbor

On average, that is

(Newser) - File this one away for bar trivia night: The planet closest to Earth is not Venus. So say researchers in a paper in Physics Today touting the new mathematical method they devised that spit out the true nearest neighbor when distance is averaged over time: Mercury. And here's the... More »

On the Far Side of the Moon, Cotton Grows

China's getting into extraterrestrial agriculture, sprouts seeds in moon lander

(Newser) - For the first time anybody is aware of, seeds have sprouted on a celestial body beyond Earth. The China National Space Administration released a photo Tuesday showing that cotton seeds brought to the far side of the moon by the country's Chang'e 4 lander had germinated, the South ... More »

Farthest Observed Object in Solar System Is 'Farout'

Dwarf planet is 11 billion miles away

(Newser) - Astronomers have spotted the farthest object ever observed in our solar system—and they've nicknamed the pink cosmic body "Farout." The International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center announced the discovery Monday. "Farout" (pronounced far-out) is a dwarf planet about 120 astronomical units away—that's... More »

Russian Official Smirks About US Moon Landings

Dmitry Rogozin says Russia will verify them

(Newser) - The head of Russia's Roscosmos space agency has said that a proposed Russian mission to the moon will be tasked with verifying that the American moon landings were real, though he appeared to be making a joke, the AP reports. "We have set this objective to fly and... More »

Diamond From the Sky May Have Formed in 'Lost Planet'

Meteorite has traces of proto-planet, researchers say

(Newser) - Fragments of a meteorite that fell to Earth a decade ago provide compelling evidence of a lost planet that once roamed our solar system, researchers say. A team from Switzerland, France, and Germany examined diamonds found inside the Almahata Sitta meteorite and concluded they were most likely formed by a... More »

Meet 'Oumuamua, Our First Guest From Another Solar System

And scientists think there could be thousands more just like it passing through

(Newser) - Houston, we have a visitor—and astronomers think there could be 10,000 more just like it "lurking" in wait, as the Guardian puts it. Meet 1I/2017 U1, or 'Oumuamua (Hawaiian for "messenger" or "scout"), which scientists say is an asteroid from another solar system—... More »

'We Are Dealing With Our 1st Truly Identified Alien Visitor'

Astronomers believe they've confirmed object arrived in our solar system from another

(Newser) - There's something strange in the solar neighborhood. "We've never seen anything like this before," Rob Weryk tells the New York Times . Earlier this month, the astronomer at the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy discovered a mysterious object zipping through our solar system. Calculations show it... More »

'ET' Dust Extracted From White Cliffs of Dover

Cosmic particles could offer clues to past major events like asteroid collisions

(Newser) - The White Cliffs of Dover serve as both a stunning photographic subject and as an iconic British symbol of defense during war. Now they're also a geological museum of sorts: Scientists from Imperial College London have discovered 76 particles of fossilized cosmic dust in the chalky limestone, which could... More »

40-Year-Old Signal From Space Is Finally Explained

Astronomer says it was 'a natural phenomenon,' not aliens

(Newser) - In 1977, a radio telescope recorded a 72-second signal coming from the direction of the constellation Sagittarius. Stunned, the astronomer who observed it wrote "Wow!" on the readout. Since it couldn't be explained, plenty argued the signal was proof of life beyond our planet. After 40 years,... More »

3B Years Ago, Venus Might've Been Livable

Climate models suggest it was a lot like early Earth

(Newser) - Venus is perhaps best known as "that torrid acid bath next door," as Gizmodo puts it, with toxic thunderclouds and atmospheric pressure capable of crushing bones, per Science Alert —but it might have looked very different 700 million years ago. After plugging topographic data and the hydrogen... More »

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 »

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