NCCR PlanetS 19 Dec 2018, 17:08 UTC Researchers at the Universities of Zurich and Cambridge have discovered a new, exotic class of planets outside our solar system. These so-called super-Earths were formed at high temperatures close to their host star and contain high quantities of calcium, aluminium and their oxides – including sapphire and ruby.
ALMA (Atacama Large Millimetre/Submillimetre Array) 18 Dec 2018, 19:13 UTC Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have discovered that two young stars forming from the same swirling protoplanetary disk may be twins — in the sense that they came from the same parent cloud of star-forming material. Beyond that, however, they have shockingly little in common.
ESA Top News 18 Dec 2018, 10:48 UTC Artist’s impression of the BepiColombo spacecraft in cruise configuration. In this viewing orientation, the Mercury Transfer Module is at the bottom, its ion thrusters firing, and its solar wings extending about 14 m either side of the module. The 7.5 m-long solar array of the Mercury Planetary Orbiter in the middle is seen extending to the top, the reverse side facing the viewer. The booms of the magnetometer and medium gain antenna are also seen. The Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter sits inside the sunshield, which is visible at the top.
California Institute of Technology 17 Dec 2018, 20:29 UTC Researchers have discovered a young star in the midst of a rare growth spurt—a dramatic phase of stellar evolution when matter swirling around a star falls onto the star, bulking up its mass. The star belongs to a class of fitful stars known as FU Ori's, named after the original member of the group, FU Orionis (the capital letters represent a naming scheme for variable stars, and Orionis refers to its location in the Orion constellation). Typically, these stars, which are less than a few million years old, are hidden behind thick clouds of dust and hard to observe. This new object is only the 25th member of this class found to date and one of only about a dozen caught in the act of an outburst.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center 17 Dec 2018, 16:00 UTC New NASA research confirms that Saturn is losing its iconic rings at the maximum rate estimated from Voyager 1 & 2 observations made decades ago. The rings are being pulled into Saturn by gravity as a dusty rain of ice particles under the influence of Saturn’s magnetic field.
NASA Breaking News 17 Dec 2018, 13:20 UTC A series of new CubeSats now are in space, conducting a variety of scientific investigations and technology demonstrations, following launch Sunday of Rocket Lab’s first mission for NASA under a Venture Class Launch Services (VCLS) contract.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory News and Features 14 Dec 2018, 16:48 UTC On Sunday, Dec. 16, the comet known as 46P/Wirtanen will make one of the 10 closest comet flybys of Earth in 70 years, and you may even be able to see it without a telescope. Although the approach will be a distant 7.1 million miles (11.4 million kilometers, or 30 lunar distances) from Earth, it's still a fairly rare opportunity. "This will be the closest comet Wirtanen has come to Earth for centuries and the closest it will come to Earth for centuries," said Paul Chodas, manager of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. What's more, Chodas said, "This could be one of the brightest comets in years, offering astronomers an important opportunity to study a comet up close with ground-based telescopes, both optical and radar."