Astronomers discover planet with scorching snow

Some real science from Penn State: Astronomers discover sunscreen snow falling on hot exoplanet Astronomers at Penn State have used the Hubble Space Telescope to find a blistering-hot giant planet outside our solar system where the atmosphere “snows” titanium dioxide — the active ingredient in sunscreen. These Hubble observations are the first detections of this…

NASA discovers ancient ocean on Asteroid Ceres

Via the AGU: WASHINGTON D.C. — Minerals containing water are widespread on Ceres, suggesting the dwarf planet may have had a global ocean in the past. What became of that ocean? Could Ceres still have liquid today? Two new studies from NASA’s Dawn mission shed light on these questions. In one study, the Dawn team…

Our dizzy Universe: Hubble discovers ‘wobbling galaxies’

From the ESA/HUBBLE INFORMATION CENTRE Hubble discovers ‘wobbling galaxies’ Observations may hint at nature of dark matter Using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have discovered that the brightest galaxies within galaxy clusters “wobble” relative to the cluster’s centre of mass. This unexpected result is inconsistent with predictions made by the current standard model of dark…

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…