In the icy bodies around our solar system, radiation emitted from rocky cores could break up water molecules and support hydrogen-eating microbes. To address this cosmic possibility, a University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) team modeled a natural water-cracking process called radiolysis. They then applied the model to several worlds with known or suspected interior oceans, including Saturn's moon Enceladus, Jupiter's moon Europa, Pluto and its moon Charon, as well as the dwarf planet Ceres.
There's something new to look for in the heavens, and it's called a 'synestia,' according to planetary scientists Simon Lock at Harvard University and Sarah Stewart at UC Davis. A synestia, they propose, would be a huge, spinning, donut-shaped mass of hot, vaporized rock, formed as planet-sized objects smash into each other.
A University of Washington-led international team of astronomers has used data gathered by the Kepler Space Telescope to observe and confirm details of the outermost of seven exoplanets or-biting the star TRAPPIST-1.
The surfaces of Earth, Mars, and Titan, Saturn's largest moon, have all been scoured by rivers. Yet despite this similarity and the amazingly Earth-like landscapes of Titan complete with valleys, lakes, and mountains, researchers led by City College of New York geologist Benjamin Black report new evidence that the origins of the topography there and on Mars are different from on Earth.
Fluid erosion has carved river networks in at least three bodies in our solar system in the form of water on Earth and Mars and liquid hydrocarbons on Titan. A new report in Science examines the global drainage patterns of these worlds to shed light on their geologic past.
ALMA has made the first complete millimeter-wavelength image of the ring of dusty debris surrounding the young star Fomalhaut. This remarkably well-defined band of rubble and gas is likely the result of exocomets smashing together near the outer edges of a planetary system 25 light-years from Earth.
Astronomers uncovered a moon orbiting the third largest dwarf planet, 2007 OR10, in the frigid outskirts of our solar system called the Kuiper Belt.
In a paper published in Science, researchers report that Titan, like Mars but unlike Earth, has not undergone any active plate tectonics in its recent past. The upheaval of mountains by plate tectonics deflects the paths that rivers take. The team found that this telltale signature was missing from river networks on Mars and Titan.
Heavy rain on Mars reshaped the planet's impact craters and carved out river-like channels in its surface billions of years ago, according to a new study published in Icarus. In the paper, researchers from the Smithsonian Institution and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory show that changes in the atmosphere on Mars made it rain harder and harder, which had a similar effect on the planet's surface as we see on Earth.
Researchers at Lehigh University have discovered a new planet orbiting a star 320 light years from Earth that has the density of styrofoam. This 'puffy' exoplanet may hold opportunities for testing atmospheres that will be useful when assessing future planets for signs of life. The research, 'KELT-11b: A Highly Inflated Sub-Saturn Exoplanet Transiting the V+8 Subgiant HD 93396,' appears in The Astronomical Journal May 2017 issue.