Saturday, 6 February 2016
How big is the Solar System? After the discovery of the dwarf planet Sedna ten years ago, the question of what lies beyond the edge of the Solar System has been continuously sought out by the world’s brightest astronomers. This week, that question gets closer to an answer.
A new planet-hunting survey has revealed planetary candidates with orbitalperiods as short as four hours and so close to their host stars that they arenearly skimming the stellar surface. If confirmed, these candidates would beamong the closest planets to their stars discovered so far. DTM Post DoctoralFellow, Brian Jackson, presented his team’s findings, which are based on datafrom NASA’s Kepler mission. Most gas giant exoplanets with orbital periods less than or equal to a few days are unstable.
Reconstructing the rise of life during the period of Earth’s history when it first evolved is challenging. Earth’s oldest sedimentary rocks are not only rare, but also almost always altered by hydrothermal and tectonic activity. A new study from a team including the Geophysical Laboratory's Robert Hazen and visiting investigator Nora Noffke, revealed the well-preserved remnants of a complex ecosystem in a nearly 3.5 billion-year-old sedimentary rock sequence in Australia.
New research from a team led by the Geophysical Laboratory's Alexander Goncharov hones in on the hydrocarbon methane (CH4), which is one of the most abundant molecules in the universe. Despite its ubiquity, methane’s behavior under the conditions found in planetary interiors is poorly understood due to contradictory information from various modeling studies. The work is published by Nature Communications.