Of all the kinds of planets we’re finding around other stars—hot Jupiters and mini-Neptunes and those dubiously called “Earth-like”—super-Earths orbiting close to their stars are among the most abundant. While planets so close to their stars are poor candidates for habitability, they are important to understanding the possibility of other habitable planets in these seemingly common systems.
Astronomers hope to get lucky and discover the first evidence of plate tectonics on a planet besides Earth: remnants of continental crust in the rocky material that pollutes some white dwarfs.
A new model explains Mercury’s major density with magnetism.
Obtaining high-resolution spectra of asteroids is challenging. Measuring asteroid albedos in broad photometric wavebands is relatively easy, and potentially provides useful information about surface composition.
The unexpectedly large inclination of Iapetus may result from close encounters between Saturn and an interloping ice giant planet during the early evolution of the Solar System.
A new model simulates the composition of growing planetesimals in an evolving protoplanetary disk. The model predicts that carbon-rich terrestrial planets can form more easily than previously thought.
New Horizons will arrive at Pluto in mid-2015. Images of ancient tectonic features on its surface may provide evidence for the existence of an ancient, subsurface ocean.
For the first time ever, signatures from a newly formed moon are spotted in Saturn’s ring system.
Earth and its Solar System compatriots all have nearly circular orbits, but many exoplanets orbit their stars on wildly eccentric paths. Is our home system strange? Or is our sense of the data skewed?
How good are citizen-scientists at characterizing crater densities and size distributions on the lunar surface? For that matter how good are the experts? Today’s study attempts to answer these questions by having a group of experts analyze images of the Moon from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera.