cosmos

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Rogue Planets Could be Habitable

The search for potentially habitable planets is focused on exoplanets—planets orbiting other stars—for good reason. The only planet we know of with life is Earth and sunlight fuels life here. But some estimates say there are many more rogue planets roaming through space, not bound to or warmed by any star.

Could some of them support life?

The term ‘Rogue Planet’ is a colourful term used to describe what are actually interstellar objects (ISOs). But in the case of rogue planets, the ISOs are planetary-mass objects, rather than less massive objects like ‘Oumuamua or 2I/Borisov, the only two confirmed ISOs to enter our Solar System.

Rogue Planets have been somehow ejected from their solar systems. Young solar systems are chaotic places, where bodies collide with each other and where migrating gas giants can perturb smaller terrestrial planets from their orbits, sending them on an interstellar journey. It’s also possible that rogue planets form in interstellar space similar to how stars form. A planet could coalesce out of a cloud of gas and dust, along with a system of moons orbiting it. Sub-brown dwarfs are also considered rogue planets, but since they’re just gas, life is unlikely. In any case, rogue planets aren’t gravitationally bound to any star or stars. They’re free-floating.

We don’t know how many of them there are. If you ask Neil deGrasse Tyson there are billions of them in the Milky Way, maybe even trillions. Could any of them host life? Possibly.

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Undoubtedly, in the future, man will establish a colony on Mars. What will it look like and which technological solutions adapted to the conditions on Mars will work? Here is the list >>

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This Mastcam-Z image shows a sample of Mars rock inside the sample tube on Sept. 1, 2021 – the 190th sol, or Martian day, of the mission. The image was taken after coring concluded but prior to an operation that vibrates the drill bit and tube to clear the tube's lip of any residual material.

The bronze-colored outer-ring is the coring bit. The lighter-colored inner-ring is the open end of the sample tube, and inside is a rock core sample slightly thicker than a pencil. A portion of the tube's serial number – 266 – can be seen on the top side of tube's wall.

Additional images taken after the arm completed sample acquisition were inconclusive due to poor sunlight conditions. Another round of images with better lighting will be taken before the sample processing continues.

Obtaining additional imagery prior to proceeding with the sealing and storing of Mars rock sample is an extra step the team opted to include based on its experience with the rover’s sampling attempt on Aug. 5. Although the Perseverance mission team is confident that the sample is in the tube, images in optimal lighting conditions will confirm its presence.

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For the first time, astronomers have captured solid evidence of a rare double cosmic cannibalism — a star swallowing a compact object such as a black hole or neutron star. In turn, that object gobbled the star’s core, causing it to explode and leave behind only a black hole.

The first hints of the gruesome event, described in the Sept. 3 Science, came from the Very Large Array (VLA), a radio telescope consisting of 27 enormous dishes in the New Mexican desert near Socorro. During the observatory’s scans of the night sky in 2017, a burst of radio energy as bright as the brightest exploding star — or supernova — as seen from Earth appeared in a dwarf star–forming galaxy approximately 500 million light-years away.

“We thought, ‘Whoa, this is interesting,’” says Dillon Dong, an astronomer at Caltech.

He and his colleagues made follow-up observations of the galaxy using the VLA and one of the telescopes at the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii, which sees in the same optical light as our eyes. The Keck telescope caught a luminous outflow of material spewing in all directions at 3.2 million kilometers per hour from a central location, suggesting that an energetic explosion had occurred there in the past.

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Gravity is the weird, mysterious glue that binds the Universe together, but that's not the limit of its charms. We can also leverage the way it warps space-time to see distant objects that would be otherwise much more difficult to make out.

This is called gravitational lensing, an effect predicted by Einstein, and it's beautifully illustrated in a new release from the Hubble Space Telescope.

In the center in the image is a shiny, near-perfect ring with what appear to be four bright spots threaded along it, looping around two more points with a golden glow.

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A star just 35 light-years away has been found to host a number of rocky exoplanets, and one that has a good chance of habitability.

Around the red dwarf L 98-59 orbit at least four planets, and the system looks to be fascinating. New observations confirm what prior research had already suggested – the existence of a terrestrial world with half the mass of Venus.

But the new observations also reveal new worlds in the same system, including an ocean planet, and what seems to be a super-Earth bang in the middle of the star's habitable zone.

"The planet in the habitable zone may have an atmosphere that could protect and support life," said astrophysicist María Rosa Zapatero Osorio of the Centre for Astrobiology in Spain.

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A lunar magnetic field may not have just been short-lived; it may have persisted for only a blip in geologic time, a new study finds.

Shortly after the moon formed about 4.5 billion years ago, it may have begun generating a magnetic field, a protective sheath that can deflect away charged particles from the sun (SN: 1/11/17). Now, analyses of moon rocks suggest that any lunar magnetic field was gone by at least 4 billion years ago, researchers report August 4 in Science Advances.

Magnetized lunar rocks brought back by Apollo astronauts decades ago were the first indication that the moon may have once had an internal dynamo, in which molten, iron-rich rock swirls inside the core of a celestial body, giving rise to a magnetic field (SN: 11/9/11). But how long such a lunar dynamo may have lasted has been unclear.

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The Milky Way is 13 BILLION years old. Some of our Galaxy’s oldest stars were born near the beginning of the Universe itself. During all these eons of time, we know at least one technological civilization has been born – US!

But if the Galaxy is so ancient, and we know it can create life, why haven’t we heard from anybody else? If another civilization was just 0.1% of the Galaxy’s age older than we are, they would be millions of years further along than us and presumably more advanced. If we are already on the cusp of sending life to other worlds, shouldn’t the Milky Way be teeming with alien ships and colonies by now?

Maybe. But it’s also possible that we’ve been looking in the wrong place. Recent computer simulations by Jason T. Wright et al suggest that the best place to look for ancient space-faring civilizations might be the core of the Galaxy, a relatively unexplored target in the search for extra terrestrial intelligence.

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Gravitational waves have brought us long-sought proof of a cataclysmic meeting between a black hole and a neutron star.

Are you in the mood to feel small? Like cosmically small? And not because of the usual dreamy, slightly cheesy stuff that space can offer—the idea that we exist on a tiny speck of rock clinging to our beautiful sun in the darkness. I’m talking about some truly wild action, so intense that it warps space-time, the invisible scaffolding that holds up everything we know, and reverberates for hundreds of millions of light-years.

Then astronomers have got something for you.

An international team of researchers announced today that it has detected evidence of one of the most extreme objects in the cosmos, a black hole, colliding with another of the most extreme objects in the cosmos, a neutron star, forming an even bigger black hole. And the team caught it happening not once, but twice.

Until now, these kinds of mergers, as astronomers call them, were purely hypothetical. Theoretical models predicted that they could, and should, happen. Astronomers had found evidence of other mash-ups between extreme astrophysical objects; in the past several years, they have detected mergers between two black holes and mergers between two neutron stars. But they couldn’t be certain that a meeting between one of each was possible, that nature could really bring them together, until one day, in a flash, the evidence arrived on Earth.

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Exoplanet discoveries used to be nothing but a dream for scientists, but new telescope technology and more advanced observation techniques have made the task of finding planets outside of our solar system easier than ever. In fact, so many new exoplanets are being found these days that scientists have to pick and choose which ones are most in need of study since there simply aren’t enough eyes to go around.

Now, a massive international team of astronomers and other scientists have revealed the discovery of a particularly interesting exoplanet that is sure to get a lot of attention. It’s called TOI-1231b, and it orbits a star much cooler than our own Sun. The star, named NLTT 24399, is a red dwarf, so despite TOI-1231b being much closer to its star than Earth is to the Sun, the planet is actually similar in temperature, and it is thought to have a robust atmosphere that warrants future study.

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A new discovery could soon be raising the total number of confirmed magnetars to 25.

On 3 June, a brief X-ray burst close to the galactic plane caught the attention of the Swift Burst Alert Telescope (BAT). Follow-up observation and analysis seem to confirm that it was emitted by a previously unknown magnetar, now named Swift J1555.2-5402.

Given how few magnetars we have identified within the Milky Way, any new addition has the potential to vastly increase our understanding of these mysterious objects.

Magnetars have been something of a cosmic celebrity lately. They're a very rare type of neutron star, which are the collapsed cores of stars that started out with masses between 8 and 30 times that of the Sun.

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The Jupiter moon Europa may be an even more promising abode for life than scientists had thought.

A recent study suggests that active volcanoes may lurk on the seabed of the 1,940-mile-wide (3,120 kilometers) Europa, which harbors a huge ocean of salty water beneath its icy shell.

Such volcanoes could power deep-sea hydrothermal systems, environments rich in chemical energy that potential Europa lifeforms could exploit, researchers said.

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