Astronomy and Planetary Science Thread

The Cool Worlds Lab have won time on JWST to study a very Jupiter like Exoplanet for Exomoons, and not just a small amount of time but seemingly what is a large amount of time some three days of telescope time, you can clearly tell how happy he is by this grant of time:


He states their target exoplanet is 2.2AU from its host star which is a K type. They had two other proposals that were rejected by high ranked. He also states that a team from Harvard has also been granted time to look for exomoons, but doesn’t know what their target is, and they have been granted less time than they have for their target.
Astronomers have performed multi-wavelength photometric observations of a nearby planetary-mass object known as SIMP J013656.5+093347. Results of the observational campaign, presented February 22 on the pre-print server arXiv, suggest that the object hosts patchy cloud layers in its atmosphere.

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Some 100 light-years from the Solar System dwells the most mathematically perfect planetary system we've ever seen.

The star at its center – a temperate orange dwarf called HD 110067 – is orbited by six exoplanets, each of which travels in harmony with its adjacent worlds. Such a perfect chain of orbital resonances is extremely rare, and it means that the system has remained relatively stable and undisturbed since it formed, around a billion years ago.

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Well, you can relax. Astronomers Paul Wiegert of Western University and Ben Hyatt of the University of Waterloo in Canada have projected the orbits of over 1.3 million known asteroids in the inner Solar System and reached a comforting conclusion: Not a single asteroid is going to collide with Apophis in the next few years.

"Given how closely Apophis will pass Earth, there is a possible risk that a deflection from its current trajectory may move Apophis closer to impacting us," Hyatt says.

"Hypothetically, another asteroid colliding with Apophis could cause such a deflection, motivating us to study this scenario however unlikely it may be."

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For the first time, scientists have been able to explain the mystery behind the unusual chemical composition in one of the universe's most distant galaxies. The state-of-the-art theoretical model that the breakthrough research has established could be a key to our better understanding of the far universe.

But Professor Kobayashi's research has not only disproved that hypothesis of super-massive stars and possibly also the remnant super-massive black hole. Instead, she has established a new means of understanding early galaxies.

Professor Chiaki Kobayashi, professor of astrophysics at the University of Hertfordshire, said, "The galaxy is not telling us about an unusual star but an unusual episode of galaxy life. We found that early galaxies have 'bursty' star formation, which causes this unusual chemical composition. "

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A team of planetary scientists affiliated with multiple institutions in the U.S. has found a jet in Jupiter's atmosphere that fluctuates in roughly four-year periods. In their paper published in the journal Nature, the group describes how they found the jet and studied its characteristics using data from the Juno spacecraft.

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Disagreement on what sort of world they’ve actually detected with competing papers coming to opposite conclusions. All the papers linked to in the article. Also the possible biosignature detection they made can be produced by other processes, and they found no detection of another biosignature. They are also concerned that their announcement will be misreported.

Truly weird Michel Van, that is quite possibly the most strangest thing that I have ever come across in all my years being interested in Astronomy.
Contentious claims that an interstellar meteor possibly containing alien technology hit Earth a decade ago is on even shakier ground – quite literally. Last year, pieces of the meteor were collected from the ocean off Papua New Guinea, though later analysis brought into question the "alien tech" nature of the spherules recovered. Now, it appears the soundwaves the team claimed were linked to the fireball were actually from the shaking of a nearby truck driving past.

Now, a team from Johns Hopkins University argues that their seismic analysis is wrong too. What they linked to the meteor was "almost certainly" the motion of a truck moving on a nearby road. What's more, they put forward evidence that the meteor entered the atmosphere elsewhere and if fragments did land in the ocean they did so in a completely different place to where Loeb and team calculated.

Based on their new analysis, Fernando’s team estimated that the more likely place for the meteor to have landed is over 160 kilometers (100 miles) from the area investigated.

But, you might say, they found "spherules" of alien origin! I read it online! Well, analysis from another researcher has already highlighted how the anomalous composition was consistent with human-made pollution, stating “the meteoritic evidence is disfavored.”

No alien tech either

What a headache

Space tech

Massive telescope



No dark matter?

Electric cool-aid acid test

The eclipse game!
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Dark matter is supposed to account for 85% of the mass in the universe, according to conventional scientific wisdom. But proponents of a radical new theory of gravity, in which space-time is “wobbly”, say their approach could render the elusive substance obsolete.

The proposition, outlined in a new paper, raises the controversial possibility that dark matter, which has never been directly observed, is a mirage that a substantial portion of the physics community has been chasing for several decades. The theory is viewed as quite left-field and is yet to be thoroughly tested, but the latest claims are creating a stir in the world of physics.

Announcing the paper on X, Prof Jonathan Oppenheim, of University College London, said: “Folks, something seems to be happening. We show that our theory of gravity … can explain the expansion of the universe and galactic rotation without dark matter or dark energy.”

Here’s the related paper:

Indian astronomers have conducted long-term X-ray observations of a nearby ultra-fast rotating active star known as AB Doradus A. Results of the observational campaign, published February 29 on the pre-print server arXiv, provide crucial insights into the short-term and long-term variability of this star.

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NASA is also reducing spending on two of its existing space telescopes, the Chandra X-Ray Observatory and Hubble Space Telescope,...

The Chandra cuts, though, are more significant, from $68.3 million spent on it in 2023 to $41.1 million proposed for 2025. “The Chandra spacecraft has been degrading over its mission lifetime to the extent that several systems require active management to keep temperatures within acceptable ranges for spacecraft operations,” the agency’s budget request stated. “The reduction to Chandra will start orderly mission drawdown to minimal operations.” The proposal projects annual spending on Chandra to fall to just $5 million by 2029.
Jonathan McDowell implies the cut to Chandra funding would set back US X-ray astronomy for generations:


He also states there's no major hardware issue with Chandra:


Pretty depressing day at work today with lots of staff updating their resumes as we grapple with NASA's decision to shut down Chandra, the world's only ever high resolution X-ray space telescope, still returning fabulous science discoveries. Still hoping this can be reversed

Some of the statements around the Chandra budget cut say that it's more expensive now because of its thermal control issues. This is flatly untrue - the thermal problems prevented us from *reducing* costs, but they didn't *increase* them....

and I think that $60M/yr is actually a really good deal for level of science discoveries we've continued to return, when compared with other missions.
Scientists from the Universities of Sydney and Sorbonne University have used the geological record of the deep sea to discover a connection between the orbits of Earth and Mars, past global warming patterns and the speeding up of deep ocean circulation.

They discovered a surprising 2.4-million-year cycle where deep currents wax and wane which, in turn, is linked to periods of increased solar energy and a warmer climate.

They found that the vigour of deep-sea currents shifts in 2.4-million-year cycles.

These cycles are called “astronomical grand cycles”, predicted to occur due to the interactions of Earth and Mars orbits. However, evidence for this is rarely detected in the geological record.

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Astronomers report the discovery of a new warm Jupiter exoplanet orbiting a distant star in the open cluster Messier 67. The newfound extrasolar world, designated S1429 b, is almost twice as massive as Jupiter. The finding was detailed in a paper published March 5 on the pre-print server arXiv.

According to the paper, S1429 b has a minimum mass of 1.8 Jupiter masses and orbits its host star every 77.48 days on a most likely circular orbit, at a distance of approximately 0.384 AU from it. The equilibrium temperature of the planet was estimated to be about 683 K.

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The icy crust that protects Europa’s ocean from the cold of space is at least 20 kilometers (12 miles) thick, an analysis of data from the Galileo mission suggests. The conclusion sheds no light on the question of whether that ocean contains life, but indicates how hard it will be to find a conclusive answer.

Europa’s crust may not be the same thickness everywhere. Just as Enceladus’s ocean is thought to be much closer to the surface near the south pole than elsewhere, Europa may have regions of thinner ice. The authors consider it unlikely the variation is large, and the similarity of the results they get at two locations doesn’t favor the idea we’d just need to land a drilling rig in the right spot.

Jovian moons Ganymede and Callisto are also thought to possibly contain internal oceans but with much thicker shells than Europa. The authors suggest that past estimates of 80-105 kilometers (50-60 miles) may be considerably underestimating these moons’ crustal thickness.

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Astronomers have discovered that a distant, scorching hot planet twice the size of Jupiter is on a death-spiral trajectory that will send it careening into its parent star. A crash is expected to happen relatively soon, cosmically speaking.

"According to our calculations, the planet will crash into the star [WASP-12] in just 3 million years, an incredibly short amount of time considering the star only appears to be 3 billion years old," Pietro Leonardi, research lead author and University of Padova scientist, told

That isn't the only thing, however, that makes this doomed world an extreme exoplanet unlike anything found in the solar system. The immense gravity felt by WASP-12b at just 2.1 million miles from its star generates such great tidal forces that it is now shaped like an egg.

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The Rocket Lab mission to Venus next year gets a mention in the article. Not surprising as the lead scientist on the mission is one of the author’s of the paper.

A new study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is forcing us to rethink just how unlikely life on Venus might be. The researchers discovered that some of the core building blocks of life on Earth are surprisingly stable when exposed to the corrosive sulfuric acid found in Venus’s atmospheric clouds.

“If you consider the four major building blocks of life as nucleic acid bases, amino acids, fatty acids, and carbohydrates, we have demonstrated that some fatty acids can form micelles and vesicles in sulfuric acid, and the nucleic acid bases are stable in sulfuric acid,” said study co-author Maxwell Seager, an undergraduate at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI).

“Carbohydrates have been shown to be highly reactive in sulfuric acid. That only left us with amino acids as the last major building block to study.”

Moreover, a privately-funded mission with MIT’s Professor Sara Seager as the lead scientist is scheduled to launch in 2025. This probe will journey through Venus’ clouds, analyzing the chemical makeup on its quest for signs of life.

Related paper:

Aye, 20 km thick ice ? take that, Antarctica ! Won't be easy to drill, for sure. And of course, Ganymede and Callisto are worse. The only one without ice is Io - no risk at all !
Using observations made with the Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC) a study led from the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) and the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM) has confirmed that the asteroid 2023 FW14, discovered last year, is accompanying the red planet in its journey around the Sun, ahead of Mars and in the same orbit. With this new member, the group of Trojans which accompany Mars has increased in number to 17. But it shows differences in its orbit and chemical composition which may indicate that it is a captured asteroid, of a primitive type. The results are published in the prestigious journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

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No one has been able to find any of those first generation of stars, but scientists have announced a unique finding: a star from the second generation that originally formed in a different galaxy from ours.

"This star provides a unique window into the very early element-forming process in galaxies other than our own," said Anirudh Chiti, a University of Chicago postdoctoral fellow and first author on a paper announcing the findings. "We have built up an idea of the how these stars that were chemically enriched by the first stars look like in the Milky Way, but we don't yet know if some of these signatures are unique, or if things happened similarly across other galaxies."

Related paper:

Any implications for Mars Trojans as useful to SpaceX plans?

No. Trojans are very far away from their host body. Martian trojans are ~9 times further away from Mars than the Earth is at it's closest point in orbit. While the delta-v of a trajectory that would take to the trojans and then Mars is in principle very low, the travel time of such a low-energy orbit would be horrendously long.
Exploring the icy moons of Saturn and Jupiter has long been a focal point for scientists in the quest for extraterrestrial life. According to new research, even microscopic amounts of cellular material ejected from moons or exoplanets could reveal signs of life to the instruments on missions slated for the near future.

This fascinating study, conducted by researchers from the University of Washington in Seattle and Freie Universität Berlin, offers promising insights for these upcoming exploration missions.

The Europa Clipper’s SUrface Dust Analyzer represents a leap forward in space exploration instruments, capable of detecting negatively charged ions and better suited for identifying fatty acids and lipids. Klenner finds the prospect of searching for lipids more exciting than searching for DNA’s building blocks due to their stability.

Senior author Frank Postberg from Freie Universität Berlin concludes, “With suitable instrumentation, such as the SUrface Dust Analyzer on NASA’s Europa Clipper space probe, it might be easier than we thought to find life, or traces of it, on icy moons.”

This optimistic outlook hinges on the presence of life and its incorporation into ice grains from subsurface water reservoirs, paving the way for exciting discoveries in the search for extraterrestrial life.

Related paper:

An international team of astronomers reports the discovery of a new mini-Neptune exoplanet orbiting a nearby star. The newfound alien world, designated TOI-4438 b is about 2.5 times larger than the Earth. The finding was detailed in a paper published March 14 on the pre-print server arXiv.

Related paper:

While astrocombs have been used by scientists studying the cosmos for several years, they were previously limited mainly to the green-red part of the colour spectrum.

However, the breakthrough will allow scientists to utilise the ultraviolet to blue-green part of the spectrum, which means they will be able to discover even more secrets hidden in space.

“Until now, astrocombs operated mainly in the green-to-red part of the spectrum of light, but the shorter-wavelength ultraviolet to blue-green region is rich in the atomic absorption features of interest to astronomers.

“Our new approach for the first time provides a continuous sequence of optical markers from the ultraviolet to the blue-green that serve as a precision wavelength scale in this part of the spectrum.”

Prof Reid’s team is developing the technology for the Extremely Large Telescope, currently under construction in Chile.


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