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!
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.
Title: Superhabitable Worlds Authors: René 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 […]
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Galaxy Zoo is a citizen science project that uses volunteers to classify galaxies from the Sloan Digitial Sky Survey as spiral or elliptical. Now the Galaxy Zoo 2 catalogue has gone public, with even more detailed classifications of galaxies, including bars, bulges, spiral arms, and round and squashed ellipticals.
The search for exoplanets in their habitable zones continues. But exomoons could be habitable, too! This paper models hypothetical exomoons in four real systems to determine the habitability of moons around planets that don’t necessarily stay in the habitable zone.