Planets

Blog about planets.

Simulated views of WASP-121b (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech/Aix-Marseille University (AMU))

An article published in the journal “Astronomy & Astrophysics” describes a research on gas giant planets very close to their star. A team of researchers used observations made with Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes and computer simulations to study in particular the characteristics of the atmosphere of the exoplanet WASP-121b but also of other similar ones, called ultrahot Jupiters. They’re so close to their stars that their dayside has very high temperatures and are in some ways more similar to a star than a planet.

44 exoplanets detected by the Kepler space telescope confirmed in one go

An article published in “The Astronomical Journal” describes the confirmation of 44 exoplanets that are part of an original group of 72 candidates detected by NASA’s Kepler space telescope. A team of researchers led by John Livingston of the University of Tokyo, Japan, used data collected by ESA’s Gaia space probe and ground-based telescopes in the US to confirm the existence of 44 exoplanets in one go and discover some of their characteristics. 16 of them have a radius less than twice the Earth’s.

Artist's concept of SIMP J01365663+0933473 (Image Caltech/Chuck Carter; NRAO/AUI/NSF)

An article published in the “Astrophysical Journal” describes a study on the magnetic fields of five brown dwarfs, objects at the limit between the planet and the star, cold even by the standards of their category. A team of researchers used the Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope to examine the brown dwarfs chosen due to their radio wave emissions. The one cataloged as SIMP J01365663+0933473 is especially interesting because it’s at the limit between the planet and the brown dwarf and has a magnetic field over 200 times stronger than Jupiter’s.

Mars Express detections at Mars South Pole

An article published in the journal “Science” describes the discovery of an underground lake of liquid water on Mars. A team of researchers led by Roberto Orosei of the National Institute of Astrophysics and composed of researchers belonging to Italian research centers and universities used data collected by ESA’s Mars Express space probe’s MARSIS radar to collect evidence that at the south pole at about 1.5 kilometers of depth there’s water that is liquid.

Mars Proton Aurora

An article published in the journal “Nature Astronomy” describes the discovery of proton aurorae on the planet Mars. Scientists from NASA’s MAVEN mission were studying the red planet’s atmosphere using the space probe’s IUVS instrument and noticed a strange glow in its upper layers. The investigation led to the discovery of this rare type of aurora caused by energetic protons carried by the solar wind, a phenomenon that can occur on a large scale on Mars and perhaps also on Venus and Titan while it’s limited on Earth.