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planetary science

This tag is associated with 97 posts

Migrating Super-Earths vs. Terrestrial Planets

Of all the kinds of planets we’re finding around other stars—hot Jupiters and mini-Neptunes and those dubiously called “Earth-like”—super-Earths orbiting close to their stars are among the most abundant. While planets so close to their stars are poor candidates for habitability, they are important to understanding the possibility of other habitable planets in these seemingly common systems.

Searching for Signs of Plate Tectonics in Polluted White Dwarfs

Astronomers hope to get lucky and discover the first evidence of plate tectonics on a planet besides Earth: remnants of continental crust in the rocky material that pollutes some white dwarfs.

Mercury’s surprising density: What about magnets?

A new model explains Mercury’s major density with magnetism.

Albedo as a quick proxy for asteroid compositions

Obtaining high-resolution spectra of asteroids is challenging. Measuring asteroid albedos in broad photometric wavebands is relatively easy, and potentially provides useful information about surface composition.

Why isn’t Iapetus inclined to be eccentric?

The unexpectedly large inclination of Iapetus may result from close encounters between Saturn and an interloping ice giant planet during the early evolution of the Solar System.

How Easily Do Carbon-Rich Planets Form?

A new model simulates the composition of growing planetesimals in an evolving protoplanetary disk. The model predicts that carbon-rich terrestrial planets can form more easily than previously thought.

Will we find signs of tectonics on Pluto? And what would that mean?

New Horizons will arrive at Pluto in mid-2015. Images of ancient tectonic features on its surface may provide evidence for the existence of an ancient, subsurface ocean.

A New Moon from Saturn’s Ring

For the first time ever, signatures from a newly formed moon are spotted in Saturn’s ring system.

The nearly circular orbits in our solar system, not drawn to scale.

How Weird Is Our Solar System?

Earth and its Solar System compatriots all have nearly circular orbits, but many exoplanets orbit their stars on wildly eccentric paths. Is our home system strange? Or is our sense of the data skewed?

Crowd-Sourcing Crater Identification

How good are citizen-scientists at characterizing crater densities and size distributions on the lunar surface? For that matter how good are the experts? Today’s study attempts to answer these questions by having a group of experts analyze images of the Moon from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera.

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