Keck II Telescope Peers into Uranus’ Depths Using Adaptive-Optics

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These images showcase the fine-scale structure of the atmosphere of Uranus, and contain vastly more detail than other images. The images were taken by the adaptive-optics-equipped telescope, the Keck II, which employed its NIRC2 camera.

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New Theoretical Models Salvage Moon-Forming Impact Theory

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Theia impacting proto-Earth, image by Fahad Sulheria.

One of the widest accepted models for the Moon’s formation states that a renegade, Mars-sized planet, named Theia, slammed into Earth 4.5 billion years ago, and pushed up debris that would eventually coalesce into a satellite. This theory has been able to predict and explain many facts, like the mass of Earth and the Moon, but it also says that most of the lunar-forming debris stemmed from Theia, not proto-Earth. Theia is thought to have originated from a different part of the Solar System, with different elemental isotopes, which conflicts with some of the more sensitive measurements of the past decade showing that rocks from Earth and the Moon have identical isotopic ratios of oxygen, titanium, chromium, and tungsten.

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Simulation May Explain Saturnian System

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Saturnian system montage made up from images taken by Voyager I, image by JPL/NASA

Saturn’s odd mix of mid-sized satellites are among the strangest in the outer Solar System. With widely varying densities and locations, measuring between 300 to 1,500 kilometers in diameters, these moons have some distinctive characteristics. Some are made up almost completely of ice, and some are rockier and geologically active. Some even show evidence of submoons and rings.

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Xenon Gas Has Almost Vanished from the Atmosphere

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Xenon, the second heaviest of the chemically inert noble gases, seems to have vanished from the Earth’s atmosphere; but German geoscientists think that they figured out where it went.

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Distant Exoplanets form Planetary Syzygy Celestial Alignment

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Astronomers have discovered that two exoplanets are overlapping in the skies as they cross their star. The phenomenon is new enough that it doesn’t have a name, but it’s related to a syzygy, which is when a straight line configuration of three celestial bodies is formed in a gravitational system.

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Titan Experiences Seasonal Changes

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Hydrocarbon lake on Saturn’s moon Titan

Astronomers have been researching Saturn’s moon Titan for roughly 30 years, discovering that the moon experiences seasonal changes that affect it more than previously thought.

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Catalog of Moon’s Craters May Reveal Ice beyond Moon’s Poles

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Yellow spots indicate best guesses for volatiles

There might be more ice on the Moon than was previously thought. There are permanent shadows far from the lunar poles, which has expanded the number of sites that would be good candidates for exploration by robotic rovers or even possible locations of future moon bases.

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