Showing posts from April, 2020

There’s Something Special About the Sun: It’s a Bit Boring Source:   By Adam Mann, The New York Times. Excerpt: The sun, like all stars, is a blazing ball of fusion-powered plasma. From its surface emerge magnetic field lines that can cause dark patches known as sunspots. Turn up the activity of these magnetic whorls, and you get more solar storms flinging deadly charged particles and radiation throughout our solar system. If enough of these punishing waves hit a rocky planet, that planet might end up microwaved into a dreary condition where nothing could live. ...A study released Thursday in the journal Science suggests that our sun is rather tame compared with its stellar siblings, and that hundreds of other sun-like stars in our galaxy have on average five times more magnetic activity than our parent star. ...Some previous studies also implied that the sun was quieter than other similar stars. But competing evidence has also found the sun’s activity level is normal for

Hubble Marks 30 Years of Seeing a Universe Being Born and Dying. Source:   By Dennis Overbye, The New York Times. Excerpt: As shown in a new picture of stormy star birth in a nearby galaxy, captured by the Hubble Space Telescope, the cosmos is keeping up the tradition of both birth and death. Stars are being born out of the ashes of old ones, forever refreshing the universe. The picture was released Friday by the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, keepers of the Hubble, in honor of the 30th anniversary of the launch of that telescope on April 24, 1990....

The Case of the Disappearing Exoplanet Source:    By Robin George Andrews, New York Times.  Excerpt: Humanity’s growing tally of exoplanets — worlds seen orbiting other stars — stands at 4,151. Most were found indirectly, as they passed in front of their stars and cast a telltale shadow, or as they caused their star to wobble as they swung around it. Only 50 have been directly imaged through a telescope. Directly imaging an exoplanet was first achieved in two discoveries announced simultaneously in 2008. ...a solitary planet dancing around the star Fomalhaut was spotted by the Hubble Space Telescope. Fomalhaut b, as the latter was named, appeared to be a colossal world, potentially as massive as three Jupiters, zipping along the inner edge of a giant doughnut of debris. ... András Gáspár, an astronomer at the University of Arizona, was looking at Hubble’s images of the Fomalhaut system taken up through 2014, on the off chance that someone misse