Posts Tagged ‘solar system’


The predicted ninth planet has so far proved elusive, with searches of 50 per cent of the sky in the range where it ‘should’ be having turned up nothing. But planetary theorists Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin insist the evidence shows they are on the right track. Others talk of broken glass and fingerprints – shades of Sherlock Holmes.

Beyond Neptune, a handful of small worlds are moving in harmony.

Astronomers think they might be dancing to the tune of a third world lurking in the darkness, one that’s four times bigger than Earth and significant enough to be named our Solar System’s ninth planet.

Now they think they know exactly where to look for it, says Science Focus.

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Image credit: naturalnavigator.com


The contention here is that in the time taken for 14 lunar nodal cycles, the difference between the number of Saros eclipse cycles and lunar apsidal cycles (i.e the number of ‘beats’ of those two periods) is exactly 15.

Since 15-14 = 1, this period of 260.585 tropical years might itself be considered a cycle. It is just over 9 Inex eclipse cycles (260.5 years) of 358 synodic months each, by definition.

Although it’s hard to find references to ~260 years as a possible climate and/or planetary period, there are a few for the half period i.e. 130 years, for example here.

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Image credit: interactivestars.com


In 2015 this post discussed long-term lunar precession from an apsidal, or anomalistic, standpoint.

We saw that all the numbers related to an exact number (339) of Metonic cycles (19 tropical years each, as discussed below).

Here we show the equivalent from a nodal, or draconic, standpoint.

Again, all the numbers relate to an exact number (337 this time) of Metonic cycles.

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Natural gas flare {credit: Wikipedia]


As we already knew from elsewhere in the solar system, fossils are not essential for the production of methane aka natural gas. Only two ingredients are needed, one being water, as explained below.

New research from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) published Aug. 19, 2019, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science provides evidence of the formation and abundance of abiotic methane—methane formed by chemical reactions that don’t involve organic matter—on Earth and shows how the gases could have a similar origin on other planets and moons, even those no longer home to liquid water.

Researchers had long noticed methane released from deep-sea vents, says Phys.org. But while the gas is plentiful in the atmosphere where it’s produced by living things, the source of methane at the seafloor was a mystery.

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Credit: NASA [click on image to enlarge]


In a 2015 Talkshop post we found a resonant period of 486.5 days for the inner three of the four Galilean moons of Jupiter: Io, Europa and Ganymede. Here the researchers find a period of 480-484 days, which clearly looks very much the same as our period, linked to recurring volcanic activity. They find this ‘surprising’, but the repeating alignments of these moons with Jupiter – at the same time interval – look to be more than a coincidence.

Hundreds of volcanoes pockmark the surface of Io, the third largest of Jupiter’s 78 known moons, and the only body in our solar system other than Earth where widespread volcanism can be observed, says Phys.org.

The source of the moon’s inner heat is radically different than Earth’s, making the moon a unique system to investigate volcanism.

A new study in the AGU journal Geophysical Research Letters finds Io’s most powerful, persistent volcano, Loki Patera, brightens on a similar timescale to slight perturbations in Io’s orbit caused by Jupiter’s other moons, which repeat on an approximately 500-Earth-day cycle.

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Hebridean islands of Scotland


So it is believed at least. Researchers say a more detailed underwater survey is needed.

Evidence for the ancient, 1.2 billion years old, meteorite strike, was first discovered in 2008 near Ullapool, NW Scotland by scientists from Oxford and Aberdeen Universities.

The thickness and extent of the debris deposit they found suggested the impact crater—made by a meteorite estimated at 1km wide—was close to the coast, but its precise location remained a mystery.

In a paper published today in Journal of the Geological Society, a team led by Dr. Ken Amor from the Department of Earth Sciences at Oxford University, show how they have identified the crater location 15-20km west of a remote part of the Scottish coastline.

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Main solar system planets [image credit: Wikipedia]


No s**t Sherlock! Numerous independent researchers, some featured at the Talkshop, have been working along such lines for years with little apparent recognition and even a certain amount of negative reaction (like this), let’s say.

H/T Miles Mathis

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HZDR press release of May 27, 2019: New study corroborates the influence of planetary tidal forces on solar activity.

One of the big questions in solar physics is why the Sun’s activity follows a regular cycle of 11 years. Researchers from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR), an independent German research institute, now present new findings, indicating that the tidal forces of Venus, Earth and Jupiter influence the solar magnetic field, thus governing the solar cycle.

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Distances not to scale.


This is an easy data table to interpret.

The Uranus orbits are all Fibonacci numbers, and the synodic conjunctions are all a 3* multiple of Fibonacci numbers.
[Fibonacci series starts: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, …etc.]

In addition, the difference between the two is always a Lucas number. And that’s it for Saturn-Uranus, which would make for a very short blog post.

But it’s possible to go further.

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Saturn seen across a sea of methane on Titan by Huygens probe 2005


Not sure they mean Earth also has eerie lakes – apart from Lake Erie perhaps. Titan, billed here by a researcher as ‘the most interesting moon in the solar system’, has some observed similarities with Earth, plus some quirks of its own.

There’s one other place in the solar system where liquid rains, evaporates, and seeps into the surface to create deep lakes: Saturn’s moon Titan, says Tech Times.

In this alien world, the Earth-like hydrologic cycle does not take place with water, but with liquid methane and ethane. In Titan’s ultra-cold environment, these gases behave just like water.

Two new papers published in the journal Nature Astronomy detailed the findings of the concluded Cassini mission, particularly the details on Titan’s lakes and their composition.

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Image credit: Wikipedia


The next step is to find the source(s) of the dust, with as yet undetected asteroids thought to be the leading suspects.

Two dusty discoveries may shake up our understanding of the inner solar system, says Fox News.

Mercury shares its supertight orbit with a big ring of wandering dust, a recent study suggests. And a cloud of as-yet-undiscovered asteroids likely gave rise to a similar halo in Venus’ neighborhood, another new paper concludes.

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Planetary theory lives on, even if it now has to nod towards trace gases in the atmosphere to be in fashion with the times.

Scientists have long posited that periodic swings in Earth’s climate are driven by cyclic changes in the distribution of sunlight reaching our surface, says Phys.org.

This is due to cyclic changes in how our planet spins on its axis, the ellipticity of its orbit, and its orientation toward the sun—overlapping cycles caused by subtle gravitational interplays with other planets, as the bodies whirl around the sun and by each other like gyrating hula-hoops.

But planetary paths change over time, and that can change the cycles’ lengths. This has made it challenging for scientists to untangle what drove many ancient climate shifts.

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Saturn from the Cassini orbiter [image credit: NASA]


This has been a tricky problem for years as explained below, and now appears to have been resolved. But whether that’s the end of the story remains to be seen.

Saturn’s distinctive rings were observed in unprecedented detail by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, and scientists have now used those observations to probe the interior of the giant planet and obtain the first precise determination of its rotation rate, reports Phys.org.

The length of a day on Saturn, according to their calculations, is 10 hours 33 minutes and 38 seconds.

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Does it snow on Mars?

Posted: December 30, 2018 by oldbrew in atmosphere, Clouds, solar system dynamics
Tags: ,

Clouds on Mars [image credit: NASA]


H/T Discover Magazine

This wasn’t the first question that came to mind when I photographed these clouds, says Tom Yulsman @ ImaGeo.

But the beautiful phenomenon I witnessed eventually led me to it.
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Mars is certainly cold. With temperatures that can plunge to more than negative 100 degrees Celsius, it’s bloody frigid!

But as cold as it might get, does it snow on Mars?

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The orbit of 2014 MU69 with the path of New Horizons [credit: NASA@Wikipedia]


“Ultima Thule” (2014 MU69) means “beyond the borders of the known world.” It takes nearly 300 years to orbit the Sun. Scientists ‘have no idea what to expect’.

After several weeks of sensitive searches for rings, small moons and other potential hazards around 2014 MU69, a Kuiper belt object nicknamed Ultima Thule, the dozen-member New Horizons hazard watch team gave the ‘all clear’ for the spacecraft to remain on a path that takes it about 2,200 miles (3,500 km) from Ultima Thule, instead of a hazard-avoiding detour that would have pushed it three times farther out, reports Sci-News.

“New Horizons is now targeted for the optimal flyby, over three times closer than we flew to Pluto. Ultima, here we come,” said New Horizons principal investigator Dr. Alan Stern, a researcher at Southwest Research Institute.

New Horizons will make its historic close approach to Ultima Thule at 12:33 a.m. EST on January 1, 2019.

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See a passing comet this Sunday

Posted: December 15, 2018 by oldbrew in Astronomy, News, solar system dynamics
Tags:

Comet 46P/Wirtanen [image credit: NASA]


The comet can be found near the Pleiades star cluster, conditions permitting.

On Sunday, Dec. 16, the comet known as 46P/Wirtanen will make one of the 10 closest comet flybys of Earth in 70 years, and you may even be able to see it without a telescope, says Phys.org.

Although the approach will be a distant 7.1 million miles (11.4 million kilometers, or 30 lunar distances) from Earth, it’s still a fairly rare opportunity.

“This will be the closest comet Wirtanen has come to Earth for centuries and the closest it will come to Earth for centuries,” said Paul Chodas, manager of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

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It has been billed as The Comet of The Year.

Spaceweather.com

Nov. 26, 2018: Small but hyperactive Comet 46P/Wirtanen is approaching Earth and could soon become visible to the naked eye. On Dec. 16th, the kilometer-wide ball of dirty ice will be less than 11.5 million km away–making it one of the 10 closest-approaching comets of the Space Age. It already looks magnificent through amateur telescopes. On Nov. 26th, Gerald Rhemann took this picture using a 12-inch reflector in Farm Tivoli, Namibia:

“The comet is currently gliding through the southern constellation Fornax,” says Rhemann. “If you look carefully at the image, you can see galaxy NGC 922 near the comet’s head, and another galaxy ESO 479-2 on the left.”

Rhemann says that the comet’s emerald green atmosphere is 50 arcminutes wide. In other words–almost twice as wide as a full Moon. Its apparent diameter could double in the weeks ahead as the comet comes even closer. Because Wirtanen’s brightness is spread…

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More twins than couple, as this 2008 blog post explains. It takes them 25-30 years to orbit each other and 290 years for the binary system to orbit the Sun.
QW322

astroengine.com

2001 QW322 is a highly split Kuiper Belt pair, orbiting eachother at a distance of 125,000 km

The highly-split Kuiper Belt pair 2001 QW322 (CFEPS)

The Kuiper Belt is an eerie, mysterious and cold region of the Solar System. In it, there are billions of small pieces of rocks with lots of fancy names. As a general designation, all objects in the Kuiper belt are called “Kuiper-belt objects” (KBO’s for short). As the Kuiper belt is located in a region just beyond Neptune, they may also be known as trans-Neptunian objects (TNO’s). Inside the Kuiper belt, we have Pluto-like objects known as “Plutoids”, classical KBO’s called “Cubewanos” (the largest being the recently discovered Makemake) and a whole host of other objects such as icy objects soon to become the next generation of periodic comets.

We are only scraping the surface, finding only a small portion of KBOs. We know of a thousand, but astronomers believe there may…

View original post 542 more words

Saharan dust storm [image credit: BBC]


The researchers report that ‘Titan displays particularly energetic meteorology at equinox in equatorial regions’. Associated strong winds ‘are expected to occur in downbursts during rare equinoctial methane storms—consistent with the timing of the observed brightenings’. On Earth, auroral activity is strongest at the equinoxes, so solar wind strength could be a factor in both phenomena.

Data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has revealed what appear to be giant dust storms in equatorial regions of Saturn’s moon Titan, reports Phys.org.

The discovery, described in a paper published on Sept. 24 in Nature Geoscience, makes Titan the third Solar System body, in addition to Earth and Mars, where dust storms have been observed.

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NASA mission to Jupiter’s
trojan asteroids


Could evidence from a specific binary asteroid pair upset existing planetary theories? ‘The Jupiter trojans, commonly called Trojan asteroids or just Trojans, are a large group of asteroids that share the planet Jupiter’s orbit around the Sun.’ – Wikipedia. There are over a million of these, inhabiting two oval-shaped zones based around what are known as the Lagrangian points L4 and L5 of Jupiter’s orbit (see animation below).

Scientists at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) studied an unusual pair of asteroids and discovered that their existence points to an early planetary shake-up in our solar system.

These bodies, called Patroclus and Menoetius [see flyby 6 in the graphic], are targets of NASA’s upcoming Lucy mission to the Trojan asteroids. They are around 70 miles wide and orbit around each other as they collectively circle the Sun.

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The highly tilted orbit of Eris compared to the orbits of Ceres (light blue), Jupiter (maroon), Saturn (orange, Uranus (green), Neptune (blue), Pluto (olive, and MakeMake (red) [image credit: Fandom]


Could a ‘rogue’ star passing nearby have disturbed outer parts of the early solar system? Beyond Neptune things become somewhat different.

The outer reaches of our solar system harbor a number of mysterious features. Astrobites reports on whether a single stellar fly-by could help explain them all.

A star is born from the gravitational collapse of a cloud of gas and dust. Yet not all of the material ends up in the star, and instead forms a flat protoplanetary disk that surrounds the new star. Over time, the materials in this disk coalesce to form planets, moons, asteroids, and most other objects you might expect to find near a typical star.

Since protoplanetary disks are flat, the expectation is that all of the planets and objects orbiting a star that formed out of a protoplanetary disk should orbit on a single plane. So when we find stars with planets that orbit at multiple different inclinations, this raises questions.

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