Starts With a Bang! 18 Sep 2020, 14:01 UTC There are only 3 populations of stars, but “generations” is a more complex question.
Universe Today 18 Sep 2020, 09:51 UTC Can the galaxy’s dead stars help us in our search for life? A group of researchers from Cornell University thinks so. They say that watching exoplanets transit in front of white dwarfs can tell us a lot about those planets. It might even reveal signs of life.
astrobites 17 Sep 2020, 16:01 UTC There are lots of stars out there in the Universe, and a large chunk of those are M dwarfs. These are the smallest and reddest stars, coming last in the sequence of spectral types (O, B, A, F, G, K, and last but not least: M). Bonus: since they’re so small and dim, it actually makes it easier to find smaller, terrestrial planets around them! Given that they’re so plentiful and we have a good shot at peering into their habitable zones, it makes sense that we’d want to think about what life on a planet around a M dwarf would be like.
Universe Today 17 Sep 2020, 02:53 UTC The discovery of phosphine in the upper clouds in Venus’ atmosphere has generated a lot of excitement. On Earth, phosphine is produced biologically, so it’s a sign of life. If it’s not produced by life, it takes an enormous amount of energy to be created abiologically.
Sky and Telescope 16 Sep 2020, 13:12 UTC The detection of phosphine on Venus demands confirmation on two levels. Chemistry labs across the globe are already investigating possible inorganic production routes, to see if anything besides life could account for the molecule’s presence in the atmosphere. The observation itself also requires independent verification. But there are considerable challenges to detecting phosphine’s other chemical fingerprints here on Earth. The solution may come from space.
Nanowerk Space Exploration News 15 Sep 2020, 16:07 UTC More than 230 years ago astronomer William Herschel discovered the planet Uranus and two of its moons. Using the Herschel Space Observatory, a group of astronomers led by Örs H. Detre of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy now has succeeded in determining physical properties of the five main moons of Uranus. The measured infrared radiation, which is generated by the Sun heating their surfaces, suggests that these moons resemble dwarf planets like Pluto.
Centauri Dreams 15 Sep 2020, 14:10 UTC A biosignature is always going to create a rolling discussion that gradually homes in on a consensus. Which is to say that the recent discovery of phosphine in the upper atmosphere of Venus has inspired a major effort to figure out how phosphine could emerge abiotically. After all, the scientists behind the just published paper on the phosphine discovery seem to be saying something to the community like “We can’t come up with a solution other than life to explain this. Maybe you can.”
Sky and Telescope 15 Sep 2020, 09:29 UTC An international team of researchers led by Jane Greaves (Cardiff University, UK) has announced the detection of phosphine in the cool cloud decks of Venus. If the detection pans out, it might be a sign of life on our sister planet.
Centauri Dreams 14 Sep 2020, 15:47 UTC Io, Jupiter’s large, inner Galilean moon, is the very definition of a tortured surface, as seen in the image below, taken by the Galileo spacecraft in 1997. Discovering volcanic activity — and plenty of it — on Io was one of the early Voyager surprises, even if it didn’t surprise astrophysicist Stanton Peale (UC-Santa Barbara) and colleagues, who predicted the phenomenon in a paper published shortly before Voyager 1’s encounter. We now know that Io is home to over 400 active volcanoes, making it the most geologically active body in the Solar System.