compiled by David Kaplan
If Planet Nine Is Out There, It Tilts Our Solar System
Most people think the eight planets in our solar system orbit the sun along a straight plane, like a disc on a record player. But actually, that plane is slightly tilted, and now astronomers think they know why: The elusive Planet Nine….more
Two Trillion Galaxies, at the Very Least
The scale of the universe, already unfathomable, just became even more so: There are about 10 times as many galaxies as previously thought.
Previous estimates were that there were perhaps 200 billion galaxies in the observable universe. One might well ask — what difference does it make?….more
Venus: Inhospitable, and Perhaps Instructional
Venus is not a placid paradise — that much we know. In addition to searing surface temperatures, wind in the upper atmosphere howls at up to 250 miles per hour, carrying clouds around the planet once every four days. The Japanese space probe Akatsuki, now in orbit around Venus, seeks to solve the mystery of so-called super-rotation….more
Pluto May Have Clouds, New Data Indicate
Pluto is hazy, with a chance of clouds.
Findings from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft include images showing seven small, bright spots that might be clouds floating just above Pluto’s surface.
Scientists working with data from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, which flew past Pluto last year, are presenting some of their latest results this week in Pasadena, Calif., at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences….more
Juno Hobbled but Healthy After Glitch, NASA Says
Hours before a close flyby of Jupiter on Wednesday, NASA’s Juno spacecraft experienced a malfunction that scrambled plans for peering deep into the planet.
At 1:47 a.m. Eastern, the spacecraft put itself into “safe mode” and restarted its computer. Juno’s instruments shut down, scuttling observations that were to take place as it passed 3,000 miles above Jupiter’s clouds….more
Distant Ringed Object Could Be ‘Saturn on Steroids’
About 400 light years from our solar system, there is a celestial body that looks like Saturn on steroids.
Its rings are about 200 times larger than its counterpart here, measuring about 75 million miles in diameter. The ring system is so large, in fact, that scientists aren’t sure why it doesn’t get ripped apart by the gravity of the star it orbits….more