Mars did Have Moving Glaciers, but They Behaved Differently in the Planet’s Lower Gravity

On Earth, shifts in our climate have caused glaciers to advance and recede throughout our geological history (known as glacial and inter-glacial periods). The movement of these glaciers has carved features on the surface, including U-shaped valleys, hanging valleys, and fjords. These features are missing on Mars, leading scientists to conclude that any glaciers on … Read more

Diamond rains could fall through the interior of ice giant planets

An exotic form of precipitation called ‘diamond rain’ — long thought to occur deep within ice giant planets — could be more common than previously thought. A team of researchers have experimented with material similar to that found within ice giants such as the solar system planets Neptune and Uranus, discovering that the presence of … Read more

‘Diamond rain’ on giant icy planets could be more common than previously thought

Studying a material that even more closely resembles the researchers composition of ice giants, found that oxygen boosts the formation of diamond rain. The team also found evidence that, in combination with the diamonds, a recently discovered phase of water, often described as “hot, black ice” could form. Credit: Greg Stewart/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory A … Read more

Brightest stars in the night sky can strip Neptune-sized planets to their rocky cores

Artist’s concept of a Neptune-sized planet, left, around a blue, A-type star. UC Berkeley astronomers have discovered a hard-to-find gas giant around one of these bright, but short-lived, stars, right at the edge of the hot Neptune desert where the star’s strong radiation likely strips any giant planet of its gas. Credit: Steven Giacalone, UC … Read more

A distant planet’s strange orbit points to a violent, chaotic past

Artist’s impression of a gas giant orbiting very closely to its host star. (Image credit: kevinmgill/flickr, CC BY) This article was originally published at The Conversation. (opens in new tab) The contributed the article to Space.com’s Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights. Adriana Errico (opens in new tab), PhD. candidate (Astrophysics) University of Southern QueenslandBrad Carter … Read more

JWST just proved it can search for alien life in planets’ atmospheres

This article was originally published at The Conversation. (opens in new tab) The contributed the article to Space.com’s Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights. Chris Impey (opens in new tab)University Distinguished Professor of Astronomy, University of ArizonaDaniel Apai (opens in new tab)Professor of Astronomy and Planetary Sciences, University of Arizona The ingredients for life are spread … Read more

NASA helps decipher how some distant planets have clouds of sand

Brown dwarfs—celestial objects that fall between stars and planets—are shown in this illustration with a range of temperatures, from hottest (left) to coldest (right). The two in the middle represent those in the right temperature range for clouds made of silicates to form. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech Most clouds on Earth are made of water, but beyond … Read more

A Dying Star’s Last Act was to Destroy all Its Planets

When white dwarfs go wild, their planets suffer through the resulting chaos. The evidence shows up later in and around the dying star’s atmosphere after it gobbles up planetary and cometary debris. That’s the conclusion a team of UCLA astronomers came to after studying the nearby white dwarf G238-44 in great detail. They found a … Read more

Remains of cannibalized baby planets found in Jupiter’s cloud-covered belly

Jupiter’s innards are full of the remains of baby planets that the gas giant gobbled up as it expanded to become the behemoth we see today, scientists have found. The findings come from the first clear view of the chemistry beneath the planet’s cloudy outer atmosphere. Despite being the largest planet in the solar system, … Read more

Jupiter is up to 9% Rock and Metal, Which Means it Ate a lot of Planets in its Youth

Jupiter is almost composed entirely of hydrogen and helium. The amounts of each closely conform to the theoretical quantities in the primordial solar nebula. But it also contains other heavier elements, which astronomers call metals. Even though metals are a small component of Jupiter, their presence and distribution tell astronomers a lot. According to a … Read more