Posts Tagged ‘solar system’

Where is Planet 9? [credit: NASA]


This may say something about what is not likely to be true about the mysterious, or mythical, Planet 9 but obviously it’s still all in the realms of theory. If it did form around the sun, how did it get to be so much further away from it than the known major planets in the solar system?

Astronomers at the University of Sheffield have shown that ‘Planet 9’ – an unseen planet on the edge of our solar system – probably formed closer to home than previously thought, reports Phys.org.

A team led by Dr Richard Parker from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Physics and Astronomy has found that Planet 9 is ‘unlikely’ to have been captured from another planetary system, as has previously been suggested, and must have formed around the sun.

The outskirts of the solar system have always been something of an enigma, with astronomers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries searching for a giant planet that wasn’t there, and the subsequent discovery of Pluto in 1930.

(more…)

Credit: NASA


Among other findings, solar EUV [extreme ultraviolet radiation] turns out to be a greater planetary force than expected in this new research. Also the bow shock is greater the nearer Mars gets to the Sun during its orbit.

As the energetic particles of the solar wind speed across interplanetary space, their motion is modified by objects in their path. A study, based on data from ESA’s Mars Express orbiter, has thrown new light on a surprising interaction between the planet Mars and supersonic particles in the solar wind, reports Phys.org.

Scientists have long been aware that a feature known as a bow shock
forms upstream of a planet – rather like the bow of a ship, where the water is slowed and then diverted around the obstacle.

The bow shock marks a fairly sharp boundary where the solar wind slows suddenly as it begins to plough into a planet’s magnetosphere or outer atmosphere.

In the case of Mars, which does not generate a global magnetic field and has a thin atmosphere, the main obstacle to the solar wind is the ionosphere – a region of electrically charged particles in its upper atmosphere.

(more…)


These two 1977 vintage machines really are ‘cosmic overachievers’ as this Phys.org report calls them. Voyager 1 reached interstellar space in 2012, but the last science instrument is not due to be switched off until 2030.

Humanity’s farthest and longest-lived spacecraft, Voyager 1 and 2, achieve 40 years of operation and exploration this August and September.

Despite their vast distance, they continue to communicate with NASA daily, still probing the final frontier. Their story has not only impacted generations of current and future scientists and engineers, but also Earth’s culture, including film, art and music.

Each spacecraft carries a Golden Record of Earth sounds, pictures and messages. Since the spacecraft could last billions of years, these circular time capsules could one day be the only traces of human civilization.

(more…)

A compact model of the heliosphere, supported by the latest data [Credit: Dialynas, et al.]


It seems the interstellar magnetic field is a lot more powerful than scientists expected, as Phys.org reports.

New data from NASA’s Cassini mission, combined with measurements from the two Voyager spacecraft and NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer, or IBEX, suggests that our sun and planets are surrounded by a giant, rounded system of magnetic field from the sun—calling into question the alternate view of the solar magnetic fields trailing behind the sun in the shape of a long comet tail.

The sun releases a constant outflow of magnetic solar material—called the solar wind—that fills the inner solar system, reaching far past the orbit of Neptune. This solar wind creates a bubble, some 23 billion miles across, called the heliosphere. Our entire solar system, including the heliosphere, moves through interstellar space.

The prevalent picture of the heliosphere was one of comet-shaped structure, with a rounded head and an extended tail.
(more…)

The largest ‘TNOs’

This is about the ‘no-name’ dwarf planet 2007 OR10, which has the unusual property of being 3 times further from the Sun at aphelion (furthest) than at perihelion (nearest).

Everybody gets a moon! With the discovery of a small moon orbiting the third-largest dwarf planet, all the large objects that orbit beyond Neptune now have satellites, reports New Scientist.

Trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs) spend most or all of their orbits beyond Neptune. Last April, the dwarf planet Makemake became the ninth of the ten TNOs with diameters near or above 1,000 kilometres known to have a moon.

So when dwarf planet 2007 OR10 was found to be rotating more slowly than expected, it was suspected that a moon might be the culprit.
(more…)

A 'normal' binary system

A ‘normal’ binary system


Have fun trying to imagine how this solar system works, as iTech Post describes its unusual structure.

Astronomers have discovered the first binary-binary solar system. The discovery is said to have implications on the way people perceive the solar system was formed.

The discovered solar system has two stars as well and a planet revolving. The new binary system has been named HD 87646. It is made up of one star, a brown dwarf star, and a massive planet, according to Science Daily. The large planet is 12 times the mass of Jupiter while the brown dwarf is 57 times the mass of Jupiter. The two are in close proximity as well to the primary star.

What makes the system interesting is that it defies what people know how a solar system is. Typically astronomers think that the solar system formed out of a disk dust cloud, with the large outer planets farther out from the primary star. Yet with HD 87646 the objects are far closer than how the outer planets are in our solar system.

(more…)

The Kuiper Belt region [credit: theplanets.org]

The Kuiper Belt region [credit: theplanets.org]


Details are sketchy but the object is said to be ‘beyond the pull of Neptune’s gravity’, so we can only speculate what and where its planetary master(s) might be.

A team of space scientists at the University of Michigan has discovered a dwarf planet that is approximately half the size of Pluto and twice as far from the sun, reports Phys.org.

The sighting was reported by NPR, which interviewed team lead physicist David Gerdes. He told them credit goes to a group of students who were challenged to find some new objects to add to the ongoing construction of a galaxy map.

(more…)

Spiral galaxy NGC 5457 aka the Pinwheel Galaxy [image credit: European Space Agency & NASA]

Spiral galaxy NGC 5457 aka the Pinwheel Galaxy [image credit: European Space Agency & NASA]


One in the eye for dark matter theorists it seems, as Phys.org reports.

In the late 1970s, astronomers Vera Rubin and Albert Bosma independently found that spiral galaxies rotate at a nearly constant speed: the velocity of stars and gas inside a galaxy does not decrease with radius, as one would expect from Newton’s laws and the distribution of visible matter, but remains approximately constant.

Such ‘flat rotation curves’ are generally attributed to invisible, dark matter surrounding galaxies and providing additional gravitational attraction.

(more…)

A long way from the Sun: theoretical Planet Nine

A long way from the Sun: theoretical Planet Nine


This story surfaced two months ago but – better late than never – we’d like to draw it to the attention of Talkshop readers, at least those who haven’t seen it already.

Two recent studies have shown that the existence of a mysterious, hypothetical Planet Nine could explain why the planets in our Solar System don’t fully line up with the Sun, reports ScienceAlert.

Researchers have been speculating about a ninth planet since January this year, and these latest studies add more weight to the hypothesis that, at some point in time at least, there was an extra planet orbiting our Sun.

In fact, if Planet Nine does exist (or did), it would help to explain something that scientists have puzzled over for decades – why the Solar System is tilted.

(more…)

Credit: NASA

Credit: NASA

Strictly speaking it’s been 68 years but we get the idea.
For links to videos see the original IB Times report
.

For the first time in 70 years, the full moon will rise on the day of the summer solstice. The rare astronomical event will occur on Monday (20 June 2016) and will be observed all around the world.

Solstices happen twice a year and correspond to the moment when the sun reaches its highest or lowest point from Earth as it orbits the Sun.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the June solstice marks the beginning of summer and is the longest day of the year, because it has the longest period of daylight. [Well, yes.]

(more…)

Ultraviolet image of Venus' clouds [credit: NASA]

Ultraviolet image of Venus’ clouds [credit: NASA]


Is it the cloud cover or the enormous atmospheric pressure at the surface that makes Venus hot? Whatever, it seems the poles are colder than Earth, and by a wide margin, as Astronomy.com reports. Models based on a ‘greenhouse effect’ weren’t expecting this.

Thanks to a thick layer of cloud cover trapping in heat, Venus is the hottest planet in our solar system, with temperatures boiling over at 850 degrees Fahrenheit (454 C). But in a study published last week in Nature Physics, the European Space Agency found something surprising at the planet’s poles: temperatures more frigid than anywhere on Earth.

(more…)

The hunt for 'Planet 9' [image credit: Caltech]

The hunt for ‘Planet 9’ [image credit: Caltech]

Still no guarantee that such a planet exists, but the signs seem promising.
H/T Daily Mail Online

Since its discovery at the beginning of this year, the mysterious ‘Planet Nine’ has had scientists looking for the signs that could confirm its existence.

Now, astronomer Mike Brown of Caltech, one of the scientists behind the January announcement, claims he’s found further evidence to support it. The giant hidden planet is thought to sit on the edge of our solar system and is 10 times more massive than the Earth, gaseous, and similar to Uranus or Neptune.

(more…)

image credit: digitaltrends

image credit: digitaltrends


Given the enormous cost of $9 billion, the mediocre output of 580 MW when finished and the vast amount of land used, is this really worth it? Three hours after sunset it’s game over until the next day. What power source comes in then?

Morocco’s king will switch on the first phase of a concentrated solar power plant on Thursday that will become the world’s largest when completed. The power station on the edge of the Saharan desert will be the size of the country’s capital city by the time it is finished in 2018, and provide electricity for 1.1 million people, says the Guardian.

(more…)

This image of Ceres is part of a sequence taken by NASA's Dawn spacecraft on May 5 and 6, 2015, from a distance of 8,400 miles (13,600 kilometers)

This image of Ceres is part of a sequence taken by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft on May 5 and 6, 2015, from a distance of 8,400 miles (13,600 kilometers)

It’s ‘baffled scientists’ time again, but now they want the public to help them out, reports phys.org

Throwing open the doors to the hallowed halls of science, stumped researchers welcomed help from the public Wednesday in solving a number of nagging mysteries about dwarf planet Ceres.

NASA’s space probe Dawn, which travelled seven-and-a-half years and some 4.9 billion kilometres to reach Ceres in March this year, is the first to orbit a dwarf planet.The probe is seeking to learn more about the structure of Ceres, which circles the Sun between Mars and Jupiter, in a bid to better understand the formation of Earth and other planets.

But many of the features of Ceres have left researchers scratching their heads — including a six-kilometre (four-mile) high protrusion they have dubbed “Lonely Mountain”.

(more…)

Pluto_probe
Squeaky bum time over at NASA for the team handling the Pluto probe with a sudden technical hitch – now resolved – days before the crucial fly-by, reports The Verge.

The New Horizons team is breathing a big sigh of relief this Monday. Over the weekend, the NASA team resolved a glitch that caused their Pluto probe to go into “safe mode” on July 4th. The spacecraft switched to its backup computer and briefly ceased communication with ground control.

(more…)

Jupiter dominates the solar system

Jupiter dominates the solar system

By far the two largest bodies in our solar system are Jupiter and Saturn. In terms of angular momentum: ‘That of Jupiter contributes the bulk of the Solar System’s angular momentum, 60.3%. Then comes Saturn at 24.5%, Neptune at 7.9%, and Uranus at 5.3%’ (source), leaving only 2% for everything else. Jupiter and Saturn together account for nearly 85% of the total.

The data tell us that for every 21 Jupiter-Saturn (J-S) conjunctions there are 382 Jupiter-Earth (J-E) conjunctions and 403 Saturn-Earth (S-E) conjunctions (21 + 382 = 403).

Since one J-S conjunction moves 117.14703 degrees retrograde from the position of the previous one, the movement of 21 will be 21 x 117.14703 = 2460.0876, or 2460 degrees as a round number.

The nearest multiple of a full rotation of 360 degrees to 2460 is 2520 (= 7 x 360).
Therefore 21 J-S has a net movement of almost 60 degrees (2520 – 2460) from its start position.

(more…)

1685 Toro and 1866 Sisyphus may be names you haven’t heard of but they’re
orbiting the Sun in the neighbourhood of our planet. What are they and what
exactly are they doing?

They are known as Apollo asteroids (see footnote) – two of several dozen in fact.

‘They are Earth-crosser asteroids that have orbital semi-major axes greater
than that of the Earth (more than 1 AU) but perihelion distances less than
the Earth’s aphelion distance (which is 1.017 AU).’

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Apollo_asteroids

What they are doing is orbiting the Earth in interesting synodic relationships
with it. Toro completes 5 orbits of the Sun every 8 Earth years/orbits while 5
Sisyphus orbits take 13 Earth years/orbits, thus 8 Sisyphus = 13 Toro orbits
(as very close approximations). On a longer time scale the figures are:
825 Toro = 1319 Earth orbits (825:1320 = 5:8) and
100 Sisyphus = 163 Toro orbits (100:162.5 = 8:13).

toro-orbit

(more…)

‘An exoplanet, or extrasolar planet, is a planet outside the Solar System’ – Wikipedia.

At least 175 multiple planetary systems have been found as of 25 November 2013. Stuart Graham investigates.

Exoplanets are a mixed bunch. Some are 10 times the size of Jupiter, others seem more like moons and may orbit their star in less than 2 days. Here we’ll look first at a small planetary body in the solar system, see how it relates to its neighbours, and then see what similarities and/or differences can be found in a few selected exoplanet systems. There may even be a few surprises.

Less well-known than Pluto is its supposed twin Orcus, or 90482 Orcus to give its full name. It’s a trans-Neptunian object or maybe a dwarf planet. As it even has its own moon Vanth, it has the reputation of being the ‘anti-Pluto’. Its orbit looks like a mirror image of Pluto’s orbit (red: Pluto, blue: Orcus, grey: Neptune).

orcus_pluto
— Symmetric orbits of Orcus and Pluto – image credit Wikipedia —

(more…)

This is an essay written some years ago by the late Tom Van Flandern  which was included in his book ‘Dark Matter, Missing Planets & New Comets’. Tom, who worked for many years at the U.S. Naval Observatory, was an out of the box thinker who covered a wide range of astronomical topics, many of them well outside the mainstream. His methodology was a bit similar to my old dad’s approach to cryptic crosswords. “The clue doesn’t give you the answer, but it helps confirm you got the right answer once you’ve got it”. Leif Svalgaard says he was a crank, which in my view means he’s well worth a read. I think this article, tied in with his other solar system formation concepts, deserves to be republished for the assessment and re-appraisal of the talkshop cognoscenti and the interested visitors here.

mercury-300x300Let us examine in detail what the consequences would be of assuming that Mercury originated as a satellite of Venus. If that were so, we might presume that Mercury formed in close orbit about Venus, perhaps by fissiona. But Mercury is four and a half times more massive than the Moon. So the interchange of energy through tidal friction between Venus and Mercury would have been enormous. Mercury’s original spin would have been halted fairly rapidly by Venus, leaving Mercury spinning once per revolution around Venus, always keeping the same face toward Venus, as for our Moon.

(more…)

My thanks to Astrophysicist Ian Wilson who has left a long comment which I’m reposting here for further discussion, because it contains findings which are as Ian says, amazing (and Ian isn’t a man of hyperbole) . The summary below is further explained in Ian’s new paper which I’ll be putting up a further post on soon: 

Are Changes in the Earth’s Rotation Rate Externally Driven and Do They Affect Climate? 

sun-earth-moonwhich is available from this link. This is a stupendous work, containing many exact period matches, rather than being dominated by tenuous statistical derivations like so many other climate papers are. Top quality science on the talkshop. In the meantime, to whet your appetite:

Ian Wilson:
We know that the strongest planetary tidal forces acting on the lunar orbit come from
the planets Venus, Mars and Jupiter, in order of the size of their respective tidal
influences. In addition, we known that, over the last 4.6 billion years, the Moon has
slowly receded from the Earth. During the course of this lunar recession, there have been
times when the orbital periods of Venus, Mars and Jupiter have been in resonance(s) with
the precession rates for the line-of-nodes and line-of-apse of the lunar orbit. When these resonances have occurred, they would have greatly amplified the effects of the planetary tidal forces upon the shape and tilt of lunar orbit. Hence, the observed synchronization between the precession rates of the line-of-nodes and line-of-apse of the lunar orbit and the orbital periods of Venus, Earth, Mars and Jupiter, could simply be a cumulative fossil record left behind by these historical resonances.
(more…)