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First results on the Pluto system by New Horizons

The first scientific results regarding the Pluto system as observed from New Horizons have been published in Science [1]. It is impressive to see direct images and maps of such distant worlds. More remarkable is the complex geology and geomorphology which characterize both Pluto and Charon. Pluto is by far a non-dead planet as resurfacing […]

Pro-Am collaborations in Planetary Astronomy – review paper

Mousis O., et al., 2013, arXiv:1305.3647 Instrumental Methods for Professional and Amateur Collaborations in Planetary Astronomy This is a great collective work on various professional-amateur collaborations (written by both professionals and amateurs) regarding aspects of Planetary Astronomy, such as: terrestial planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars), gaseous planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Poseidon), interstellar dust (meteoroids, meteors, fireballs, […]

New planet around a binary system

It is always fascinating when science fiction becomes reality. This is the case with the Kepler-16b, a binary system that proved to host a cold giant planet (like Saturn), which compiles from gas and rocks. This opens a wide new category of planetary systems since most of the stars belong to a binary system. For […]

Kepler’s first results

Kepler is a space based telescope to study a small area between Cygnus and Lyra for exoplanet transits of all possible targets but mainly to find Earth sized candidates in the habitable zone. A fist publication reveals these numbers: “On 1 February 2011 the Kepler Mission released data for 156,453 stars observed from the beginning […]

Geminids and their mysterious parent body 3200 Phaethon

The Geminids are one of the best meteor showers of the year with numerous (ZHR~120) and bright (r~2) meteors! The parent body is an asteroid named 3200 Phaethon, which is believed to be a candidate for an extinct cometary nucleus, a mystery by itself. Moreover, during the last perihelion passage of the asteroid its magnitude increased […]

Hypervelocity star – HE 0437-5439

An interesting story on hypervelocity stars. Around 16 know since 2005, one of them being the HE 0437-5439 which travells at 2.5 million kilometers / hour. The puzzle about this is that it is too young to have travelled so far from the Wilky Way (200 000 light-years over the disk plane). The story (?): […]

How big a star can be?

It seems that this question has no final answer yet. Although the recent models were claiming that no star bigger than 100-150 solar masses can exist, there is evidence that a star close to 300 solar masses exists in the Large Magellanic Cloud. One star, R136a1 (from the young cluster RMC 136a or R136), is […]