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Like Planet, Like Sun
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
05/31/06
A team of European astronomers, led by T. Guillot (CNRS, Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur, France), will publish a new study of the physics of Pegasids (also known as hot Jupiters) in Astronomy & Astrophysics. They found that the amount of heavy elements in Pegasids is correlated to the metallicity of their parent stars.

Beta Pic's Dust Bunnies
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
04/21/06
Astronomers have produced the most detailed picture yet of a dust disk surrounding a nearby star. Observations of the disk around Beta Pictoris suggest that asteroid and comet-like objects are colliding to produce fluffy icy dust-balls the size of bacteria.

One Less Thing to Worry About
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
04/19/06
Are you losing sleep at night because you're afraid that all life on Earth will suddenly be annihilated by a massive dose of gamma radiation from the cosmos? Well, now you can rest easy.

The Pulsar Phoenix
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
04/07/06
NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has uncovered new evidence that planets might rise up out of a dead star's ashes. Spitzer surveyed the scene around a pulsar, the remnant of an exploded star. The infrared telescope found a surrounding disk made up of debris shot out during the star's death throes. The dusty rubble in this disk might ultimately stick together to form planets.

Locked in the Disk
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
03/22/06
In an article to be published in Astronomy & Astrophysics, two British astronomers present new numerical simulations of how planetary systems form. They find that, in the early stages of planetary formation, giant protoplanets migrate inward in lockstep into the central star.

Modeling Giant Cores
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
02/24/06
University of Minnesota researchers Renata Wentzcovitch and Koichiro Umemoto and Philip B. Allen of Stony Brook University have modeled the properties of rocks at the temperatures and pressures likely to exist at the cores of Jupiter, Saturn and two exoplanets far from the solar system. They show that rocks in these environments are different from those on Earth and have metallic-like electric and thermal conductivity. These properties can produce different terrestrial-type planets, with longer-lasting magnetic fields, enhanced heat flow to the planetary surfaces and, consequently, more intense "planetquake" and volcanic activity.

Indecisive Solar System
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
02/21/06
Astronomers studying a disk of material circling a still-forming star inside our Galaxy have found a tantalizing result -- the inner part of the disk is orbiting the protostar in the opposite direction from the outer part of the disk.

Mega Solar Systems
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
02/12/06
The Spitzer Space Telescope has identified two huge "hypergiant" stars circled by monstrous disks of what might be planet-forming dust. The findings surprised astronomers because stars as big as these were thought to be inhospitable to planets.

Galactic Exiles
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
01/31/06
TV reality show contestants aren't the only ones under threat of exile. Astronomers using the MMT Observatory in Arizona have discovered two stars exiled from the Milky Way galaxy. Those stars are racing out of the Galaxy at speeds of more than 1 million miles per hour - so fast that they will never return.

Kuiper Belt Clones
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
01/25/06
These two bright debris disks of ice and dust appear to be the equivalent of our own solar system's Kuiper Belt, a ring of icy rocks outside the orbit of Neptune and the source of short-period comets. The disks encircle the types of stars around which there could be habitable zones and planets for life to develop. The disks seem to have a central area cleared of debris, perhaps by planets.

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