Showing posts from September, 2019

Veil of dust from ancient asteroid breakup may have cooled Earth Source:   By Joshua Sokol, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Faced with a dangerously warming world, would-be geoengineers have dreamed up ways to quickly turn down the heat. One proposed technique: spreading a veil of dust that would sit in space or Earth's atmosphere and reflect sunlight. Researchers say they have now found evidence for a similar experiment that played out naturally, 466 million years ago, when an asteroid out in space exploded into bits. Dust from the breakup blanketed the planet, says Birger Schmitz, a geologist at Lund University in Sweden, plunging it into an ice age that was soon followed by an explosion in animal life. The ancient episode offers both encouragement and caution for geoengineers. If Schmitz is right, it dramatically demonstrates how dust can cool the planet. But the deep freeze is a lesson in potential unintended consequences....

Water found for first time on potentially habitable planet Source:   By Pallab Ghosh, BBC News. Excerpt: Astronomers have for the first time discovered water in the atmosphere of a planet orbiting within the habitable zone of a distant star. The finding makes the world - which is called K2-18b - a plausible candidate in the search for alien life. ...Details were published in the scientific journal Nature Astronomy [ ]. ...K2-18b is 111 light-years - about 650 million million miles - from Earth, too far to send a probe. ...The team behind the discovery looked through the planets discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope between 2016 and 2017. The researchers determined some of the chemicals in their atmosphere by studying the changes to the starlight as the planets orbited their suns. The light filtered through the planets' atmospheres was subtly altered by the composition of the atmosphere.Only K2-18b revealed  the molecular signature