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Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Table Salt Compound Spotted on Europa

Tara Regio is the yellowish area to left of center, in this NASA Galileo image of Europa’s surface. This region of geologic chaos is the area researchers identified an abundance of sodium chloride. Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

A familiar ingredient has been hiding in plain sight on the surface of Jupiter's moon Europa. Using a visible light spectral analysis, planetary scientists at Caltech and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which Caltech manages for NASA, have discovered that the yellow color visible on portions of the surface of Europa is actually sodium chloride, a compound known on Earth as table salt, which is also the principal component of sea salt.

Gemini Planet Imager Analyzes 300 Stars

Artist’s conception portrays exoplanet 51 Eri b seen in near-infrared light, which shows the hot layers deep in its atmosphere glowing through clouds. (Image credit: Danielle Futselaar and Franck Marchis, SETI Institute)

Over the past four years, an instrument attached to a telescope in the Chilean Andes - known as the Gemini Planet Imager - has set its gaze on 531 stars in search of new planets. The team, led by Stanford University, is now releasing initial findings from the first half of the survey, published June 12 in The Astronomical Journal.

New Evidence Shows Crash with Antlia 2 Gave the Milky Way the Ripples in Its Outer Disc

A group of scientists led by RIT Assistant Professor Sukanya Chakrabarti believe that the dark dwarf galaxy Antlia 2’s collision with the Milky Way hundreds of millions of years ago is responsible for our galaxy’s characteristic ripples in its outer disc.

The newly-discovered dark dwarf galaxy Antlia 2's collision with the Milky Way may be responsible for our galaxy's characteristic ripples in its outer disc, according to a study led by Rochester Institute of Technology Assistant Professor Sukanya Chakrabarti.

Monday, June 17, 2019

The Atmosphere of a New Ultra Hot Jupiter Is Analyzed

Ultra hot Jupiter MASCARA-2B/KELT-20b -- Artist's impression.Credit: Gabriel Pérez Díaz, SMM (IAC).

The combination of observations made with the CARMENES spectrograph on the 3.5m telescope at Calar Alto Observatory (Almería), and the HARPS-N spectrograph on the National Galileo Telescope (TNG) at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory (Garafía, La Palma) has enabled a team from the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) and from the University of La Laguna (ULL) to reveal new details about this extrasolar planet, which has a surface temperature of around 2000 K.

Astrophysicist Announces Her Discovery that Could Rewrite Story of How Galaxies Die

This artist conception depicts an energetic quasar that has cleared the center of the galaxy of gas and dust, and the winds are now propagating it to the outskirts. Soon, there will be no gas and dust left, and only a luminous blue quasar will remain. Credit: Michelle Vigeant.

At the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society in St. Louis, Missouri, Allison Kirkpatrick, assistant professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Kansas, will announce her discovery of "cold quasars" -- galaxies featuring an abundance of cold gas that still can produce new stars despite having a quasar at the center -- a breakthrough finding that overturns assumptions about the maturation of galaxies and may represent a phase of every galaxy's lifecycle that was unknown until now.

Rare ‘Superflares’ Could One Day Threaten Earth

An artist's depiction of a superflare on an alien star. (Credit: NASA, ESA and D. Player)

Astronomers probing the edges of the Milky Way have in recent years observed some of the most brilliant pyrotechnic displays in the galaxy: superflares. These events occur when stars, for reasons that scientists still don’t understand, eject huge bursts of energy that can be seen from hundreds of light years away. Until recently, researchers assumed that such explosions occurred mostly on stars that, unlike Earth’s, were young and active.

The Sun May Have a Dual Personality, Simulations Suggest

Sunspots appear on the surface of Earth's sun. (Credit: NASA/SDO)

Researchers at CU Boulder have discovered hints that humanity’s favorite star may have a dual personality, with intriguing discrepancies in its magnetic fields that could hold clues to the sun’s own “internal clock.”

Saturn’s Moon Mimas, a Snowplough in the Planet’s Rings

10 million years ago, Saturn’s moons moved inwards, opening up the Cassini Division.  In 40 million years’ time, the moons will have moved out far enough for it to close up again. © Cassini, Dante, Baillié and Noyelles

The Solar System’s second largest planet both in mass and size, Saturn is best known for its rings. These are divided by a wide band, the Cassini Division, whose formation was poorly understood until very recently. Now, researchers from the CNRS, the Paris Observatory – PSL and the University of Franche-Comté have shown that Mimas, one of Saturn’s moons, acted as a kind of remote snowplough, pushing apart the ice particles that make up the rings.