Plants have the edge in the search for life beyond Earth
The reflected light from vegetation, particularly on older, hotter planets, could give away the existence of life elsewhere in the Universe, new research from scientists at the Carl Sagan Institute at Cornell University have shown.
How life could help atmospheric tides slow a planet’s rotation
Resonating oscillations of a planet’s atmosphere caused by gravitational tides and heating from its star could prevent a planet’s rotation from steadily slowing over time, according to new research by Caleb Scharf, who is the Director of Astrobiology at Columbia University. His findings suggest that the effect is enhanced for a planet with an atmosphere that has been oxygenated by life, and the resulting ‘atmospheric tides’ could even act as a biosignature.
Rocky? Habitable? Sizing up a Galaxy of Planets
The planets so far discovered across the Milky Way are a motley, teeming multitude: hot Jupiters, gas giants, small, rocky worlds and mysterious planets larger than Earth and smaller than Neptune. As we prepare to add many thousands more to the thousands found already, the search goes on for evidence of life – and for a world something like our own.
Vesta, tell us about the childhood of the Solar System
Investigating the earliest and least known phases of the history of the Solar System, when the young Sun was still enveloped by the disk of gas and dust where its planets began to form, is probably one of the most complex challenges in modern planetary science. The celestial bodies formed at the time that survived intact to now are few and in the majority of cases their “memory” of the ancient processes that marked the birth of the Solar System has been canceled or otherwise altered by the environments to which they were exposed or by the later events that shaped their evolution.
Observing the development of a deep-sea greenhouse gas filter
On sites of the seafloor that are more turbulent than most others – for example gas seeps or so-called underwater volcanoes -, the microbes remove just one tenth to one third of the emitted methane. Why is that?
Earth’s oxygen increased in gradual steps rather than big bursts
A carbon cycle anomaly discovered in carbonate rocks of the Neoproterozoic Hüttenberg Formation of north-eastern Namibia follows a pattern similar to that found right after the Great Oxygenation Event, hinting at new evidence for how Earth’s atmosphere became fully oxygenated.
Start of hard rock excavation for the Giant Magellan Telescope
GMTO Corporation (GMTO) announced on Aug. 14 the start of hard rock excavation for the Giant Magellan Telescope’s massive concrete pier and the foundations for the telescope’s enclosure on its site at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile. The work will be performed by Minería y Montajes Conpax (known as Conpax), a construction services company that has previously performed site work for other observatories in Chile. Using a combination of hydraulic drilling and hammering, the excavation work is expected to take about five months to complete. Excavation is a key step towards the construction of the GMT, which is expected to see first light as early as 2024.
The value of seagrass in securing a sustainable planet
Researchers believe that improving knowledge of how seagrasses are important for biodiversity, fisheries and our global carbon cycle in turn needs to be reflected with greater protection for these sensitive habitats.
Microbes go dark to stay warm in cooler climates
Microbes are numerous at high latitudes and in some polar regions noticeably darken the terrain, so it is possible that they not only respond to climate change but also—through sheer numbers—enhance it
Pair of Colliding Stars Spill Radioactive Molecules into Space
Astronomers have made the first definitive detection of a radioactive molecule in interstellar space: a form, or isotopologue of aluminum monofluoride (26AlF). The new data – made with ALMA and the NOEMA radio telescopes – reveal that this radioactive isotopologue was ejected into space by the collision of two stars, a tremendously rare cosmic event that was witnessed on Earth as a “new star,” or nova, in the year 1670.