Space

Far far out is farther out than far out Space

Far far out is farther out than far out

It is like it is. Astronomers have now confirmed it: Dwarf planet candidate "Farfarout" really is farther away than its buddy "Farout". Farfarout was first spotted in January 2018 by the Subaru telescope on Maunakea in Hawai'i. Its discoverers could tell it was very far away, but they weren't sure exactly how far. They needed more observations. "At that point, we didn't know the orbit of the object because we only had the Subaru discovery observations over 24 hours, but it takes years of observations to get the orbit of an object around the Sun," explained co-discoverer Scott Sheppard of…
Three couples in a rare star dance Space

Three couples in a rare star dance

It must be quite interesting to live in the star system TYC 7037-89-1. Imagine a Galileo Galilei who has to explain this to his church highers: "Gentlemen, the earth moves around the sun while the sun moves around another sun. Just as two other stars orbit each other, with which we in turn orbit the center of mass with a third pair." But that probably still would have been the simpler option, because the three pairs of stars astronomers found using NASA's TESS satellite telescope orbit each other in very close orbits of 1.3, 1.6 and 8.2 days. A…
Six exoplanets in unusual resonance Astrophysics

Six exoplanets in unusual resonance

If one leaves multi-body systems to themselves, sometimes a strange order appears. The distances of the planetary orbits are integer multiples of a basic value, moons and planets move in unison, celestial bodies always turn to the same side - what we then perceive as cosmic order are all no miracles, but merely results of the effect of gravity in a system built up in a certain way. This is also true of TOI-178, a star about 200 light-years away in the constellation Sculptor. When researchers first observed the star, they initially suspected they had discovered two planets orbiting…
How deep is Titan’s largest lake? Space

How deep is Titan’s largest lake?

Saturn's moon Titan is one of the most mysterious celestial bodies in the solar system. Beneath the golden haze of gaseous nitrogen in which it is enveloped, it has a weather cycle comparable to Earth's - only not with water, but with liquid methane. The methane comes down from the sky as rain, flows down the mountains in rivers, forms lakes and oceans, and evaporates from them back into the atmosphere. In a new paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research, researchers now use data from one of the Cassini mission's last Titan flybys to show how deep Titan's…
Luhman-16 B: The striped dwarf Space

Luhman-16 B: The striped dwarf

Luhman-16 B is a brown dwarf - a star that was a little too small to actually become a star and ignite hydrogen fusion in its interior. Brown dwarfs are about the size of Jupiter, but typically dozens of times more massive. Luhman-16 B, along with its brother Luhman-16 A, is the closest to Earth of this type of celestial object. It is also the target of the "Majestic Dracht" in Proxima log 2. Because of their nature - they do not glow - brown dwarfs are quite difficult to observe. Only with the right tricks can researchers find…
Intelligent life in the Milky Way is slowly dying out Life

Intelligent life in the Milky Way is slowly dying out

Mankind is pretty late and pretty far out. That's the conclusion of a study that statistically examines the development of intelligent life in the Milky Way. In it, the authors look at a whole range of factors that they think influence the evolution of intelligent life, such as the frequency of Sun-like stars hosting Earth-like planets, the frequency of civilization destroying supernovas, the length of time it takes for intelligent life to evolve (if conditions are right), and the tendency of advanced civilizations to self-destruct. The researchers incorporated these factors, with varying values, into a simulation of the Milky…
Intergalactic gas filaments crisscross the universe Astrophysics

Intergalactic gas filaments crisscross the universe

They crisscross the cosmos like cobwebs in a room that hasn't seen a vacuum cleaner in a long time: In so-called filaments, unfathomably large, threadlike structures of hot gas that surround and connect galaxies and clusters of galaxies, astrophysicists have long suspected the previously hidden half of matter in our universe. We owe our existence to a tiny error. After the big bang 13.8 billion years ago, the matter of the cosmos spread out in a gigantic gas cloud and was almost evenly distributed in it. Almost, but not quite: in some parts the cloud was somewhat denser than in…
A lonely pair of gas giants that could never become a star Space

A lonely pair of gas giants that could never become a star

Star formation processes sometimes give rise to astronomical objects called brown dwarfs. They are smaller and colder than stars, and in the most extreme cases can have masses and temperatures down to those of exoplanets. Like stars, brown dwarfs often wander through space alone, but they can also appear in binary systems, where two brown dwarfs orbit each other and travel together in the galaxy. Researchers led by Clémence Fontanive of the Center for Space and Habitability (CSH) at the University of Bern have now discovered a curious starless binary system of brown dwarfs. The system, CFHTWIR-Oph 98 (or…