nov 302012
 
Brown Dwarfs May Host Rocky Earth-Like Planets

  Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have for the first time found that the outer region of a dusty disk encircling a brown dwarf contains millimeter sized solid grains like those found in denser disks around newborn stars. The surprising finding challenges theories of how rocky, Earth-size planets form, and suggests that rocky planets [continue reading]

nov 292012
 
Dust Grains in Protoplanetary Disks Form Fully-Grown Planets

  An international team of researchers from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) and the Japanese universities of Kobe, Hyogo, and Saitama used the Subaru Telescope to capture a clear image of the protoplanetary disk of the star UX Tauri A. The team’s subsequent, detailed study of the disk’s characteristics suggests that its dust [continue reading]

jun 012012
 
"Dusty Plasma"  Observed in Enceladus Plume Region?

  Recent findings from NASA’s Cassini mission reveal that Saturn’s geyser moon Enceladus provides a special laboratory for watching unusual behavior of plasma, or hot ionized gas. In these recent findings, some Cassini scientists think they have observed “dusty plasma,” a condition theorized but not previously observed on site, near Enceladus. This image is a [continue reading]

mei 122012
 
The Mystery of Superwinds Solved

  Astronomers at The University of Manchester believe they have found the answer to the mystery of a powerful ‘superwind’ which causes the death of stars. Artist’s impression of the dusty wind blown by a red giant star. Credit: Anna Mayall/University of Manchester. Writing in Nature, the team of researchers used new techniques which allowed [continue reading]

apr 122012
 
Astronomers witness death of stars - in a 'solar sandstorm'

Sand storms in space have been discovered by astronomers watching the death-throes of giant stars. Three ‘red giants’ were observed having their atmospheres ripped away by a ‘superwind’ containing dusty grains of silica.  Astronomers have discovered sandstorms in space after using state-of-the-art techniques to search the atmospheres of distant, dying stars.  Superwinds carrying the dust that [continue reading]

mrt 272012
 
Comet Wild2: First Evidence of Space Weathering

The traditional picture of comets as cold, icy, unchanging bodies throughout their history is being reappraised in the light of analyses of dust grains from Comet Wild2. A team led by the University of Leicester has detected the presence of iron in a dust grain, evidence of space weathering that could explain the rusty reddish [continue reading]