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Youngest Planet: newborn gas giant may be up to six times the mass of Jupiter, orbiting a sunlike star 450 light-years away
Youngest Planet Picture: Gas Giant Seen in Throes of Creation... Baby world likely "deep red" to human eyes due to heat of formation.
A new picture of a Jupiter-like world swaddled in gas and dust is a direct image of what may be the youngest planet yet seen, astronomers report.
The newborn gas giant, dubbed LkCa 15b, orbits a sunlike star 450 light-years away in the northern constellation Taurus. The planet orbits inside a disk of material around the star that's no more than two million years old. By contrast, astronomers estimate our solar system is 4.6 billion years old.
The big baby planet may be up to six times the mass of Jupiter, according to theory-based calculations, and it appears to orbit 11 times farther from its parent star than Earth does from our sun.
The new picture was made in near-infrared light, but "the planet would probably appear a deep red to our eye, since it's still glowing from the heat of being formed," said Adam Kraus, lead study author and an astronomer at the University of Hawaii.
Separating Light From Light
Kraus and colleagues zeroed in on the young star based on previous observations that showed a conspicuous gap in the star's surrounding debris disk.
Such gaps are thought to be telltale signs that massive, newly formed planets are circling inside the disks—a protoplanet's gravity would clear away a wide swath of gas and dust as it accumulates matter. read more »
Photo of the Day: "I think that there is probably nothing as beautiful as a full disc image of Earth..."
Full Disc Image Shows Hurricane Irene (Photo of the Day)
I think that there is probably nothing as beautiful as a full disc image of Earth, though I would like it if I could find one that didn’t focus on the Americas. Either way, this most recent image was taken on August 24, 2011, by the NASA/NOAA GOES-13 satellite. In the middle of the image can be seen Hurricane Irene as it sweeps in over the Bahamas at 12 miles per hour. To the right is the far west corner of Africa, and you can just see the Antarctic Peninsula down the bottom, reaching up to try and meet the southern tip of South America.
Images courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
I've loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.
The space shuttle, icon of US high technology, leading mankind into space age; after 30 years, turns into victim of recession
Atlantis landing ends 30 years of space shuttle flights
CAPE CANAVERAL - Space shuttle Atlantis touched down before dawn Thursday on Kennedy Space Center's Runway 15, ending 30 years of space shuttle flights.
"Atlantis is home," said NASA's Mission Control moments after its arrival at 5:56 a.m. ET. "Its journey complete. A moment to be savored." In its final act before beginning the long journey home, Atlantis sent a small payload into orbit.
As an era comes to a close, nearly 200 satellites, probes and spacecraft have emerged from the cargo bays of NASA's five space shuttles since the Columbia launched from Florida's Kennedy Space Center on April 12, 1981. "We really wish we could share with everybody this really cool glow," commander Chris Ferguson radioed as he and his crew entered the Earth's atmosphere in a plasma of heated air before touching down. "We're doing fantastic." read more »
Celestial Majesty: Sun Storm, Hubble's Mystic Mountain, Big Bear's Sunspot, 1st time since 1638:Solstice+Full Moon+Lunar Eclipse
(quote) The hourglass shape of the supernova remnant SN 1987A isn't as well balanced as thought, according to an August picture of the exploded star... when massive stars explode, some of the ejected material gets shot into space faster than other debris.
A colorful, craggy column of dust and gas dubbed the Mystic Mountain stars in a picture from the Hubble Space Telescope released April 23 as part of celebrations for Hubble's 20th anniversary.
On Dec 21, 2010, the total lunar eclipse falls on the same day as the winter solstice, a rare cosmic event that hasn't occurred in centuries - the last time the solstice coincided with a total lunar eclipse on the same calendar day was 1638.
Mars shines like a bright red star over a "moonbow" in fog surrounding Hawaii's Haleakala volcano in January. Mars was about to make its closest pass by Earth for 2010.
Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth.
What goes up... Space junk: how to clean up the Space Age's mess; > 4 million pounds of trash orbiting Earth
The Trouble With Trash
It's been 53 years and over 4,500 launches since the dawn of the space age, and Earth's orbit is a junkyard. Our orbit is littered with spent rocket stages, lens caps, broken-up satellites, frozen urine, the odd glove, bits of foil, and the tool kit dropped by astronaut Heide Stefanyshyn-Piper during a spacewalk in 2008. You name it; the low Earth orbit has probably got it.
Millions of pieces of this space debris orbit the globe at break-neck speeds, and the spacecraft that pass through orbit are in jeopardy from even the smallest objects. But while the problem is evident, the solution remains elusive. Will Earth's orbit forever resemble a scene from WALL-E? Many scientists have now turned their attention to cleaning up the clutter.
Every satellite that goes up to orbit is the pride and joy of some company, lab, or nation. But once it has outlived its purpose, it's nothing but junk. read more »