Astronomers: ‘death star’ has devoured 15 Earth sized worlds

From PRINCETON UNIVERSITY and the “That’s no moon…” department: Devourer of planets? Princeton researchers dub star ‘Kronos’ Sun-like star Kronos shows signs of having ingested 15 Earth masses worth of rocky planets, prompting Princeton astronomers to name it after the Titan who ate his children. In mythology, the Titan Kronos devoured his children, including Poseidon (better…

Asteroid to buzz Earth this week

Four years ago, a house-sized asteroid tore through the atmosphere over Chelyabinsk, Russia, and exploded.  Shock waves shattered windows and knocked down onlookers as fragments of the disintegrating space rock peppered the Ural countryside. This week an asteroid about the same size is approaching Earth. It will not hit our planet, but it’s coming very…

Surprise: Freon detected around a distant star, comet

From the “Nature just wanted Freon for herself” department and the European Southern Observatory: ALMA and Rosetta detect Freon-40 in space Dashing hopes that molecule may be marker of life Using data captured by ALMA in Chile and from the ROSINA instrument on ESA’s Rosetta mission , a team of astronomers has found faint traces of the chemical compound [Freon-40] –…

Study: Early Earth gobbled up mini-planets to grow

The volatile processes that shaped the Earth Oxford University scientists have shed new light on how the Earth was first formed. Based on observations of newly-forming stars, scientists know that the solar system began as a disc of dust and gas surrounding the centrally-growing sun. The gas condensed to solids which accumulated into larger rocky…

Hubble telescope observes strange ‘pitch black’ planet

From the ESA/HUBBLE INFORMATION CENTRE Astronomers have discovered that the well-studied exoplanet WASP-12b reflects almost no light, making it appear essentially pitch black. This discovery sheds new light on the atmospheric composition of the planet and also refutes previous hypotheses about WASP-12b’s atmosphere. The results are also in stark contrast to observations of another similarly…

Climate change for aliens

From the UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER In February NASA astronomers discovered seven Earth-like planets, potentially harboring life, orbiting the star TRAPPIST-1, not too far from Earth. Scientists have yet to discover life, or evidence of civilizations, on these or other planets. But in the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence, they often categorize hypothetical worlds according to the amount…