Erika Nesvold

Erika Nesvold has written 19 posts for astrobites

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.

Seeding Life on Other Worlds

Can life spread from Earth to the moons of Jupiter and Saturn on rock ejected from meteoroid collisions? The authors of this paper start on answering this question by asking if ejected material from Earth can even reach the gas giants’ moons. The answer is yes, so it’s possible that microbial Earthlings have already traveled a lot farther than human ones.

ISON’s Journey to the Sun: Are There Any Meteor Showers in Store for Us?

Comet ISON will be flying by on its way from the Oort Cloud to the Sun and back for the next couple months. Will the meteoroids it leaves behind produce any meteor showers here on Earth? The authors of this paper use orbital mechanics to find out.

Model Transit Light Curve

Mapping Magnetic Fields with Exoplanet Transits

Transit observations can yield a lot of information about exoplanets. If a transiting exoplanet encounters stellar wind, the bow shock created can show up in the transit light curves. In this paper, the authors investigate how the stellar wind of a star can shape the light curves we observe.

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