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Is Making Planets Child’s Play?

Are star children good at child's play? Like making mudballs, it should be easy to roll up dust into planets.

Stellar Habitable Zones: Don’t Forget the Sunscreen

Astronomers concerned with the origin of life on earth have long thought about the “habitable zone” (sometimes called continuously habitable zone, or CHZ) of our solar system.  They’ve discussed this aerobee-shaped zone around our sun – or any star – mainly in terms of locations where the temperature would permit water to exist as a […]

Planets Can Form Rapidly

Observations by the Spitzer Space Telescope, announced in a JPL press release, “pose a challenge to existing theories of giant planet formation, especially those in which planets build up gradually over millions of years.”  Three young stars show clearings in dust disks surrounding them, suggesting that gas giant planets inhabit the clearings and must have […]

Planet Orbiting Triple Star Tightens Noose on Planet Formation Theories

The discovery of a planet orbiting a triple star system (see JPL Press Release), described by Maciej Konacki in Nature,1 has delivered a severe challenge to theorists.  In short, the environment is “particularly prohibitive” for planet formation.  This Jupiter-size planet should not be there.     Planet-formation theories have taken a triple whammy lately.  The […]

Ice Volcano Seen on Titan

Planetary scientists are reporting the possible discovery of an ice volcano on Saturn’s large moon Titan.  A large circular feature, 18 miles across, appears to have a caldera at the top, is surrounded by stress fractures, and appears warmer than the surroundings (warmer, relatively speaking: the mean surface temperature is -290° F).  The infrared pictures […]
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