Category: astronomia

This image captures swirling cloud belts and…

This image captures swirling cloud belts and tumultuous vortices within Jupiter’s northern hemisphere.

The region seen here is somewhat chaotic and turbulent, given the various swirling cloud formations. In general, the darker cloud material is deeper in Jupiter’s atmosphere, while bright cloud material is high. The bright clouds are most likely ammonia or ammonia and water, mixed with a sprinkling of unknown chemical ingredients.

Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstädt /Seán Doran

Pelican Nebula by Roberto Colombari

Pelican Nebula

by

Roberto Colombari

A self-portrait by NASA’s Curiosity ro…

A self-portrait by NASA’s Curiosity rover taken on Sol 2082 (June 15, 2018). A Martian dust storm has reduced sunlight and visibility at the rover’s location in Gale Crater. A drill hole can be seen in the rock to the left of the rover at a target site called “Duluth.”

Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Dunes on Mars captured by NASA’s Mars Re…

Dunes on Mars captured by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO)

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

Urania’s Mirror Urania’s Mirr…

Urania’s Mirror

Urania’s Mirror; or, a view of the Heavens is a set of 32 astronomical star chart cards, first published in November 1824. They had illustrations based on Alexander Jamieson’s A Celestial Atlas, but the addition of holes punched in them allowed them to be held up to a light to see a depiction of the constellation’s stars. They were engraved by Sidney Hall, and were said to be designed by “a lady”, but have since been identified as the work of the Reverend Richard Rouse Bloxam, an assistant master at Rugby School.

The cover of the box-set showed a depiction of Urania, the muse of astronomy, and came with a book entitled A Familiar Treatise on Astronomy… written as an accompaniment. Peter Hingley, the researcher who solved the mystery of who designed the cards a hundred and seventy years after their publication, considered them amongst the most attractive star chart cards of the many produced in the early 19th century.

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Possible variations in chemical composition …

Possible variations in chemical composition from one part of Saturn’s ring system to another are visible in this Voyager 2 picture as subtle color variations that can be recorded with special computer-processing techniques.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL

Researchers have identified 121 giant planets …

To fall within the habitable zone, a planet must sit far enough from its host star to not be scalding hot, but close enough for its surface liquid to not freeze — ideal conditions for harboring life. These factors, along with a rocky, terrestrial surface, are what Kepler looked for during its 9-year hunt for habitable exoplanets.

To fall within the habitable zone, a planet must sit far enough from its host star to not be scalding hot, but close enough for its surface liquid to not freeze — ideal conditions for harboring life. These factors, along with a rocky, terrestrial surface, are what Kepler looked for during its 9-year hunt for habitable exoplanets.

But rather than looking at terrestrial exoplanets themselves, researchers from the University of California, Riverside and the University of Southern Queensland used Kepler’s data to look for gas giants that could have rocky moons, with similar atmospheres and surfaces to Earth’s, orbiting them. In total, they were able to track down 121 gas giants that lie within their star’s habitable zone. Their research will be published in an upcoming issue of the Astrophysical Journal.

“There are currently 175 known moons orbiting the eight planets in our solar system. While most of these moons orbit Saturn and Jupiter, which are outside the Sun’s habitable zone, that may not be the case in other solar systems,” said Stephen Kane, an associate professor of planetary astrophysics at the University of California, Riverside, in a press release. “Including rocky exomoons in our search for life in space will greatly expand the places we can look.”

Looking at these exomoons won’t be an easy task, though. These gas giants have radii of at least three times that of Earth, making them relatively easy to spot with the right equipment, but their moons are suspected to be much smaller and more difficult to find. No exomoons have been directly identified so far, but Kepler’s data gives researchers a solid starting point.

“Now that we have created a database of the known giant planets in the habitable zone of their star, observations of the best candidates for hosting potential exomoons will be made to help refine the expected exomoon properties. Our follow-up studies will help inform future telescope design so that we can detect these moons, study their properties, and look for signs of life,” said University of Southern Queensland undergraduate student, Michelle Hill.

And according to scientists, the conditions for life on exomoons have the potential to be more favorable than those on Earth. Here, we’re able to harbor energy that radiates from the Sun, but an exomoon could benefit from the energy of both its host star and its host planet.

While the hunt for Earth-like exoplanets is by no means called off, embracing the possibility of Earth-like exomoons certainly increases our chances of finding life in the great beyond.

astronomy.com & sciencedaily.com

Conjunction: Moon and JupiterImage credit: Joe…

Conjunction: Moon and Jupiter

Image credit: Joe Stieber

Halley’s Comet on 8 March 1986 Credit…

Halley’s Comet on 8 March 1986

Credit:

NASA/W. Liller

Planetary Nebulae: Cat’s Eye Nebula &amp…

Planetary Nebulae: Cat’s Eye Nebula & Eskimo Nebula 

Our solar system will also have a planetary nebula. In about 5 billion years, when the sun comes loose from its outer layers, it will create a beautiful diffuse shell of gas.

Image credit: NASA

/ESA, Hubble