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Posts Tagged ‘Venus’

Lost in Space: A Starless Planet Floats Alone

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on November 15, 2012

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SSPL / GETTY IMAGES This artist's concept shows a brown dwarf surrounded by a swirling disk of planet-building dust. NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope spotted such a disk around a surprisingly low-mass brown dwarf, or "failed star."

SSPL / GETTY IMAGES This artist’s concept shows a brown dwarf surrounded by a swirling disk of planet-building dust. NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope spotted such a disk around a surprisingly low-mass brown dwarf, or “failed star.”

Just 20 years ago, astronomers imagined that planets beyond the Solar System would be more or less like the ones we know: small, rocky worlds like Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars orbiting relatively close to their stars, and big, gassy ones like Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, farther away. (Even then, Pluto was recognized as an oddball, though it hadn’t been demoted yet.) Then the first actual exoplanet was discovered, and it turned out to be a big, gaseous world orbiting ridiculously close to its star. Dozens of others very much like it soon turned up, and the astronomers’ preconceptions were abruptly laid to rest.

(PhotosWindow on Infinity: Pictures from Space)

But at least these so-called “hot Jupiters” actually orbited a star. Not so for a new planet just reported in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics. The object, known only as CFBDSIR2149, appears to be a planet from four to seven times as massive as Jupiter, floating along with a cluster of stars known as the AB Doradus Moving Group — but tethered to no one star in particular.

That’s the only reason the planet was spotted at all, in fact. If it were orbiting a star, the parent sun’s bright glare would make even a huge planet tough to discern. It would be like trying to see a candle sitting next to a  searchlight. The team of French and Canadian astronomers who made the discovery weren’t looking for planets in any case. They were looking for brown dwarfs, objects too big to be classified as planets, but too small to ignite the nuclear reactions that would qualify them as full-blown stars.

(MoreThe Very First Stars)

But when CFBDSIR2149 showed up in the Canada-France-Hawaii telescope on Mauna Kea, says co-discoverer Etienne Artigau, of the University of Montreal, “we saw that it was very red compared with the typical brown dwarf.” That meant it was relatively cool. It could still be a brown dwarf, but it would have to be billions of years old to have lost so much of its internal heat. If the object were very young, its temperature ruled it out as a brown dwarf at all. In general, says Artigau, “it would not be a trivial thing to distinguish an old, massive object from a young, small one.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Transit Of Venus Pictures: Images Of Astronomical Event (PHOTOS)

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 6, 2012

Venus Transit Photos

Skywatchers around the world readied their telescopes and grabbed their solar shades on Tuesday and Wednesday to catch a glimpse of the transit of Venus, a phenomenon that won’t occur again until 2117. Read the rest of this entry »

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Man on Moon & Mars landing: Russia space plans unveiled

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on March 13, 2012

Russian probes will visit Mars, Jupiter and Venus, while Russian cosmonauts will set foot on the surface of the Moon – all by 2030. At least according to the plans of the country’s space agency.

Space Development Strategies up to 2030, the official blueprint that for the country’s space industry in the coming years, was submitted to the government by the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) last week, Kommersant reports.

And it makes for a breathtaking – some might say fantastical – read.

By 2020, the long-gestating and as yet untested Angara rocket will become the chief means of launching Russian loads, replacing the trusted Soyuz and Proton, which have been in use since the mid-1960s. The new rocket will be headed by a new piloted spaceship carrying six astronauts, instead of the current three. No concrete project for such a spaceship currently exists.

The launches will be made from the brand-new Vostochny cosmodrome in the east of Russia, decreasing dependence on the outdated Baikonur facility, which is located outside of country’s borders in Kazakhstan and has to be rented. Construction on the $20 billion facility began last year, and is scheduled to wrap up in 2018. Read the rest of this entry »

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Venus springs ozone layer surprise

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on October 8, 2011

By Jennifer Carpenter

Scientists have discovered that Venus has an ozone layer.

The thin layer, which is hundred of times less dense than the Earth’s, was discovered by the European Space Agency’s

Artist's impression of the detection of ozone on Venus' night side

Venus Express craft,researchers report in the journal Icarus.

Until now, ozone layers have only been detected in the atmospheres of Earth and Mars.

The find could help astronomers refine their hunt for life on other planets.

The European spacecraft spied the ozone layer when focusing on stars through Venus’ atmosphere.

The distant stars appeared fainter than expected, because the ozone layer absorbed some of their ultraviolet light.

The paper’s lead author Franck Montmessin, of the LATMOS atmospheric research centre in France, explained that Venus’ ozone layer sits 100km up; about three times the height of our own.

The ozone – a molecule containing three oxygen atoms – formed when sunlight broke down carbon dioxide in the Venusian atmosphere to form oxygen molecules.

On Earth, ozone, which absorbs much of the Sun’s harmful UV-rays preventing them reaching the surface, is formed in a similar way. Read the rest of this entry »

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