Space News: Chemical planets, organic dwarfs

Brian G Turner

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beta-pictoris-b.png


Some science stories of note from the past few days:

1. Distant exoplanet imaged using chemical signatures

What's the difference between a planet and star? One answer is their chemistry - so a study decided to run a test on images of the star Beta Pictoris.

It's known to have a large mass planet in orbit, but the glare of the star normally hides it - but running a spectral analysis for common chemicals expected for a planet and not a star made it stand out - as shown in the image above.

Hunting molecules to find new planets

Yes, the star symbol shows where the star is supposed to be - but it is rendered invisible in the images because it doesn't contains any of the chemicals being tested for.

In the meantime, a French space mission hopes to take better images later this year: Champagne box-sized satellite to probe distant planet


2. Mars had explosive past

Mars is already known to have been volcanic in its distant past, but new research suggests that a massive area of rock at the equator was formed by explosive volcanoes a hundred-times bigger than anything ever seen on Earth: Explosive volcanoes spawned mysterious Martian rock formation


3. New Horizons prepares for new target flyby

After giving us stunning images of Pluto in 2015, the New Horizons space probe went into hibernation to conserve energy. Now it's beginning to wake up again, ready for its flyby of MU69, aka Ultima Thule, on New Years Eve: The New Horizons probe is awake and ready for its next flyby


4. Exotic matter could be within reach

Matter formed from exotic combinations of fundamental particles has long been theorized about - but new research makes the surprising suggestion that it may be more accessible than we think: New form of matter may lie just beyond the periodic table


5. Ceres might be more organic than thought

Ceres - the largest body in the Jupiter-Mars asteroid belt - was already found to have organic material on its surface. However, new research suggests there's even more of it there than we originally realized: Organics on Ceres may be more abundant that originally thought


BONUS AI PIECE!

6. IBM demonstrates argumentative AI

IBM pitted it's Project Debater AI in an argument with a human about issues such as funding space travel and advanced medicine - and reportedly managed to (mostly) hold its own: IBM’s machine argues with humans
 
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Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
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I suspect it'll be difficult for anything to beat what we saw with Pluto - but I guess everything else makes for an interesting bonus. :)
 

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