Space

Proxima Rising: New planet found near Proxima Centauri Proxima

Proxima Rising: New planet found near Proxima Centauri

Hm, the protagonists of my book "Proxima Rising" must have overlooked this: Around the star Proxima Centauri, which is closest to Earth, there are apparently even three planets orbiting. Already known were the planet Proxima b, about the size of Earth, on which Marchenko, Adam and Eve land in the novel, and which orbits its star once every eleven days in the habitable zone, as well as the planet candidate Proxima c, a mini-Neptune of seven times Earth's mass, which is in a five-year orbit around the star. Proxima d, the newly discovered planet using the European Southern Observatory's (ESO)…
Comfortable Mars travel by hibernation? Mars

Comfortable Mars travel by hibernation?

Imagine that you are first fed well for two weeks. Cakes, steaks, whatever you like - until you have gained at least ten kilograms. After that, you go to sleep. Your body temperature is lowered, and with it your basal metabolic rate. You slumber in your cool cave, surrounded on all sides by water containers, like a bear, until you are awakened again after three months. You have lost the excess weight. But you have also lost hardly any muscle mass, unlike if you had been forced to lie down for three months, because hibernation preserves your muscles. Now,…
Did a deadly poison lead to life on earth? Life

Did a deadly poison lead to life on earth?

Compounds between carbon and nitrogen are called cyanides. The carbon atom is triple-bonded to the nitrogen atom. It therefore has one valence left to become hydrocyanic acid with hydrogen, for example, or potassium cyanide ("cyanide") with potassium. These are usually highly toxic. however, there are more complex molecules in which the cyanide is so tightly bound that it is no longer toxic. For example, the additive E536 (potassium hexacyanidoferrate(II)) is approved as a food additive. Cyanides could also have prepared the way for the emergence of life in the early days of the Earth, four billion years ago. This…
Earth has a new companion – and why that’s exciting Space

Earth has a new companion – and why that’s exciting

Don't worry: this story is not about the imminent destruction of Earth again. On the contrary: asteroids like 2020 XL5, discovered in 2020, are exciting because they could provide insights into Earth's early past. 2020 XL5 is a so-called Trojan, as astronomers confirm now in the science magazine Nature (the assumption existed already before): An asteroid which accompanies Earth in its orbit. If one considers only the system from sun and planet, there are several places, at which the attractive forces of planet and sun cancel each other out. These are the so-called Lagrange points. Objects residing there can…
Mimas has an ocean under the surface too Enceladus

Mimas has an ocean under the surface too

Saturn's moons Enceladus and Titan have one, as do Jupiter's moons Ganymede, Callisto and Europa and the dwarf planet Pluto: a liquid ocean beneath their icy surfaces. Perhaps the same is true of Saturn's moon Mimas, as a Southwest Research Institute scientist suspects. Dr. Alyssa Rhoden, a specialist in the geophysics of icy satellites, actually set out to prove that Saturn's tiny, innermost moon is a frozen, inert satellite. Instead, she found evidence that the moon also has a liquid inner ocean. One of the most fundamental discoveries of the past 25 years in planetary science is that worlds…
Earth cools faster Life

Earth cools faster

Earth is hot: up to 3500 degrees Celsius (6300 °F) in the mantle, 5000 degrees Celsius (9000 °F) in the outer core and 6000 °C (10,800 °F) in the (solid) inner core. This brings us some advantages. Not only us, but all life on Earth. There is, for example, the magnetic field, which is fueled by iron currents in the outer core and protects us from cosmic radiation. But also plate tectonics, which not only gives us mountains, volcanoes and earthquakes, but has also favored the emergence of complex life forms. If it stops at some point, erosion will…
New candidate for exomoon discovered Space

New candidate for exomoon discovered

Almost all planets in our solar system - and even some dwarf planets - are orbited by moons. In other star systems, however, astronomers have not yet been able to definitively confirm a single moon. Is it because there are no moons there? Certainly not - our observational technology simply isn't ready yet. But an article published in Nature Astronomy now introduces at least one new candidate for an exomoon. If confirmed as an exomoon, Kepler-1708 b-i - which is 2.6 times larger than Earth - could provide a missing piece of the puzzle for understanding the formation and…
Why we don’t stick to the ground with our bellies – or why our earth is not a super earth Astrophysics

Why we don’t stick to the ground with our bellies – or why our earth is not a super earth

During the search for exoplanets astronomers notice again and again that our solar system seems to be clearly out of the way. There are neither "hot Jupiters" (gas giants in the proximity of the central star) nor super earths (rock worlds with more than three times earth mass). At first it was thought that this could be due to the way of searching. The techniques used work particularly well with celestial bodies that are very large and orbit close to their star. In the meantime, however, the list of exoplanets is clearly in four digits, and super-Earths are still…