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Erika Nesvold

Erika Nesvold has written 22 posts for astrobites
Crater Simulation

Iapetus: Growing Up in a Rough Neighborhood

Saturn’s moon Iapetus has been bombarded pretty heavily by debris from the outer Solar System. But it’s not TOO smashed up — its strange, 20-km-high, equatorial ridge is still standing. The authors of this paper simulate the bombardment of Iapetus to figure out how much mass could have collided with the moon without destroying the ridge.

Kepler-10c: A Huge Rocky Exoplanet

According to planet formation theory, gas giants are more massive than rocky, terrestrial planets. But Kepler-10c is the size of Neptune, and denser than the Earth! Read on to find out more about the discovery of a new class of planets.

An Exoplanet’s Fast Spin

Planets in the Solar System with a higher mass spin faster than lower-mass planets. But what about planets in other systems? The authors of this paper make the first measurement of an exoplanet’s spin to compare its spin and mass to Solar System planets.

Mugged by a Passing Star

A close encounter with another star can disrupt the protoplanetary disk of a young star, leaving a smaller disk behind. Can we learn anything about the encounter from the size of the remaining disk? Read on to find out!

AGN Illustration

A New Galactic Yardstick

We can measure the expansion of the universe with velocities and distances of extragalactic objects. But measuring distances is tough! The authors of this paper have developed a new technique for measure the distances of AGN using the “echo” of light from heated dust.

Stellar Flybys and Damping Disks: How to Excite an Exoplanet

Close encounters with a passing star can excite a planet into an eccentric or inclined orbit. But a circumstellar disk can damp a planet’s eccentricity and inclination. Who wins? Find out when the authors of this paper model a stellar flyby with two circumstellar disks!

Disk Detective: The Newest Astronomy Citizen Science Project

Finding circumstellar disks in the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer data is a tough job, but fortunately our brains are even better suited to the task than computers! You can help by lending your pattern-recognition skills to Disk Detective, the Zooniverse’s newest citizen science project.

Better Than Earth: Superhabitable Worlds

Title: Superhabitable Worlds Authors: RenĂ© Heller and John Armstrong First Author’s Institution: McMaster University Status: Published in Astrobiology Note: This journal article covers two topics that we thought each deserved its own astrobite. Yesterday’s astrobite discussed the first half of the paper, about the effects of tidal heating on habitability. Today’s astrobite explores the concept […]

How to Keep Warm Outside the Habitable Zone

Today’s paper is too awesome to be contained in merely one astrobite, so we’ve split it into two parts. In Part 1, find out how you can keep warm even if you’re far outside your star’s habitable zone (if “you” are a planet or moon, that is). Tune in tomorrow for Part 2: Superhabitability and You!

HD 106906 image

Far Out, Dude: A Planetary-Mass Companion at 650 AU

The Magellan telescope has directly imaged a planetary-mass companion at a projected distance of 650 AU from its star! Read on to find out how the authors detected and characterized this companion, and how they think it got there.

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