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Analysis and Comment (12)

Beta Pictoris b spins faster than the fastest spinning planet in our solar system. Beta Pictoris b spins faster than the fastest spinning planet in our solar system. ESO/L. Calçada & N. Risinger (skysurvey.org)

A different spin – exoplanet’s ‘day’ is measured for the first time

Over the past two decades, almost 1,500 exoplanets have been discovered orbiting distant stars – but Dutch astronomers have determined for the very first time just how fast one of those exoplanets is spinning…
Things may not be as they’d previously seemed regarding the moon’s formation. Things may not be as they’d previously seemed regarding the moon’s formation. NASA/JPL-Caltech

Was the moon formed by a planetary hit-and-run?

New research published in the planetary science journal Icarus, shows the moon may have been formed by a glancing collision with an “impactor” in the violent days of the early solar system. Contrary to…
Time to shine, Venus: the 2004 transit as seen from Hong Kong. Time to shine, Venus: the 2004 transit as seen from Hong Kong. Wikimedia Commons

Venus nears its moment in the sun, but what’s a transit anyway?

As you’re reading this, people all over the world are gearing up to witness this century’s final transit of Venus. Over a period of around six hours and 40 minutes tomorrow, from early morning until the…
The Apollo missions yielded more than just great views of our home planet. The Apollo missions yielded more than just great views of our home planet. NASA

‘Moon rocks’ made here: tranquillityite discovered in Western Australia

By the time the Apollo Program ended in 1972 it had cost NASA roughly US$170 billion dollars (in today’s terms). It was seen as a waste of money by some, but almost 40 years since the launch of Apollo…
What’s so special about the latest big discovery by NASA’s Kepler? What’s so special about the latest big discovery by NASA’s Kepler? NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech

Don’t pack your bags yet – Kepler-22b (probably) isn’t the next Earth

On Monday, to much fanfare, astronomers working with the Kepler space observatory (which was launched in March 2009) announced their first discovery of a planet orbiting within the “habitable zone” of…
Stars are immense, but the space between them is truly phenomenal. Stars are immense, but the space between them is truly phenomenal. chefranden

Long way to the chemist’s: a rough guide to distances in the universe

“Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.” Douglas Adams…
Science follows certain procedures, but does the media get the signal? Science follows certain procedures, but does the media get the signal? CSIRO

Diamond planets, climate change and the scientific method

Recently my colleagues and I announced the discovery of a remarkable planet orbiting a special kind of star known as a pulsar. Based on the planet’s density, and the likely history of its system, we concluded…
Stars shine, for sure, but PSR J1719-1438 is sporting some serious bling. Stars shine, for sure, but PSR J1719-1438 is sporting some serious bling. Robyn Beck/AFP

Diamond planet found (if you like it then you should have put a ring on it)

A planet has been found in our Milky Way galaxy that may be made entirely of diamond. As reported in Science today, an international astronomy team led by Swinburne University’s Matthew Bailes, has discovered…
Warning: you may struggle to believe what you’re about to read. Warning: you may struggle to believe what you’re about to read. Bluedharma

They might be giants: a mind-blowing sense of stellar scale

Just how big are the stars? Earth feels quite big, what with it taking an entire day to fly between Sydney and London, and clearly the sun and moon are quite large in the sky. But with virtually everything…
Is your stress from Venus, your pressure from Mars? Not likely. Is your stress from Venus, your pressure from Mars? Not likely.

Altered mind this morning? Hehe, just blame the planets

Today, and for the next month, four major planets are aligned above us: Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter. Are we interested? Of course we are. From the very beginning of human history we’ve been obsessed…
There’s something happening, but it’s way above your head. There’s something happening, but it’s way above your head. bluedharma/Flickr

Look out, world, the planets are aligning

Four planets – Mercury, Mars, Jupiter and Venus – will be aligned at dawn tomorrow. What does this mean? Should we be running for the hills? You’d be forgiven for thinking so. A search on Google or YouTube…

Research and News (4)

Research Briefs (7)

Super Earths could not sustain life

Rocky planets larger than Earth could not sustain life because their thick, crushing hydrogen atmospheres would be deadly…

Milky Way may be brimming with nomads

Our galaxy may be teeming with so-called ‘nomad planets’, which travel through space rather than orbiting stars, according…