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Mars Weather

The Scientist

News Feed

The oldest material on Earth has been found in an Australian meteorite

It contains dust grains that pre-date our solar system by over a billion years. The Guardian More +

A star called Betelgeuse might be ready to explode into a giant supernova

The star has been dimming rapidly in the last few weeks, and scientists are keen to know why.

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How a tabletop experiment could test the bedrock of reality

By playing with quantum entanglement, physicists hope to probe their ideas about quantum gravity for the first time.

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Water vapor has been spotted on a “habitable zone” planet 110 light-years away

It’s the first time scientists have made this discovery for a planet whose distance from its star means it could theoretically have liquid water on its surface, reports Neel V. Patel.

The news: Astronomers found that planet K2-18b, which orbits a red dwarf star 110 light-years from Earth and was already thought to be potentially habitable, has water vapor within its atmosphere. The discovery, made using data from the Hubble telescope, was reported in a pair of papers in Nature Astronomy and uploaded to arXiv.

Differing approaches: Although they share the same general conclusions, the teams differ on how much water vapor is likely to be present. One team believes K2-18b is a sort of “super-Earth” while the other thinks it’s more like a “mini-Neptune.” Either way, their conclusions are affected by the limitations of current technology. There’s only so much software can do to model an atmosphere that far away.

Is there life there? Woah now. We'll have to wait until the launch of telescopes such as the James Webb Space Telescope, which is due to launch in 2021 but has been repeatedly delayed, and the ESA’s ARIEL space telescope, set to launch in 2029, to make further observations. Read the full story here.

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Another interstellar object has been spotted visiting the solar system

An amateur astronomer seems to have spotted the second interstellar object traveling through our solar system.

Meet C/2019: Gennady Borisov in Crimea first saw the object on August 30. Follow-up observations confirmed it was on a “hyperbolic trajectory” that should have it zoom in and out of the solar system. It is most likely a comet.

A second interstellar passer-by: The first on record is ‘Oumuamua, spotted in late 2017. That cigar-shaped rock became a sensation after a couple of scientists began to openly speculate on whether it might actually be an extraterrestrial spacecraft of intelligent origin (it’s not.)

A long stay: Astronomers stumbled upon ‘Oumuamua as it was already departing the solar system, but C/2019 is still making its way into the solar system and should stick around for at least six months. It’s about six times brighter than ‘Oumuamua, which could help extend that observation period.

—Neel V. Patel

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