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New moon discovered around Neptune

Archive images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope have revealed a previously undiscovered moon.
The enigmatic object known as ‘S/2004 N1’ is the first new moon to be found around Neptune in over ten years. It was discovered by SETI’s Mark Showalter who had been examining archive photographs of Neptune to study segments of its rings. The technique involved stacking together multiple short exposure images to help see the rings in more detail.
“I got nice pictures of the arcs, which was my main purpose, but I also got this little extra dot that I was not expecting to see,” he said. The new moon is particularly perplexing because it is so small that it is incredible that it managed to survive the formation of Neptune’s other moons. “The Neptune moons we see today were probably broken up and regenerated after the arrival of Triton,” Showalter added.

Neptune has a new moon, and its existence is an enigma. The object, known for now as S/2004 N1, is the first Neptunian moon to be found in a decade. Its diminutive size raises questions as to how it survived the chaos thought to have created the giant planet’s other moons.

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Mars water may have been excellent for life

Mars water appears to have been an especially good element for life, according to a new study.

Mars water may have been excellent for life
An illustration of what Mars would look like without and with water. PHOTO: JAMES MOORE

Mars is one of the most likely homes for alien life in our solar system, and water is believed to be an essential requirement for life, as we know it, to be maintained.

Previous studies have suggested that the red planet would have once been home to flowing water lakes, which could have harbored life.

But there is still no evidence to suggest that alien life lived on the planet – or that there is still some evidence of it.

In an attempt to understand what Mars would look like in ancient times and whether it was inhabited, scientists sought to understand the chemistry of water that would be found on the planet billions of years ago.

They did so by looking at the materials left on that planet today, which could offer a clue to what it was like before.

Recent measurements taken by the probe jeep Curiosity from NASA on the Martian surface suggest that the water that once covered its surface could have the right ingredients to support any microbial life that would have formed on the planet.

The new study looked at sediments that appeared to have been left in lakes in the Gale de Mars Crater. He found that they appeared to form in the presence of liquid water with a pH similar to that of Earth’s oceans.

This suggests that the initial surface of Mars would have been the kind of place that could have served as a home for life, like Earth.

An article detailing the discovery, entitled ‘Semiarid climate and hyposaline lake on early Mars inferred from reconstructed water chemistry at Gale‘(‘ Semi-arid climate and hyposaline lake in early Mars inferred from reconstructed water chemistry in Gale ’), was published in Nature Communications.

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Some potentially inhabited worlds may not have “zones of life”

An artistic representation of a tidal trapped potentially inhabited exoplanet, with the open ocean of liquid water surrounded by a global ice shell covering the rest of the extra-solar world on the day side.

They may be completely covered in ice and their oceans do not receive starlight.

Some of the potentially inhabited exoplanets orbiting red dwarfs may be completely covered in ice and not have open surface oceans of liquid water even on the side facing the star, which, under certain conditions, makes them unsuitable for life, scientists say in a study presented in Nature Astronomy.

planet

“Perhaps some of the tidal traps of extrasolar worlds that were previously considered potentially inhabitable are frozen snowballs and have no open areas with liquid water. As a result, the starlight necessary for photosynthetic organisms does not reach the ocean, sealed under a global ice shell, which greatly limits the chances of the development and prosperity of life, ”says Jun Yan, lead author of the study from Peking University (China).

Potentially inhabited tidal rocky extra-solar worlds in red dwarf systems, especially the Proxima b, TRAPPIST-1e, and LHS 1140b, which are especially close to us, are the main goals for future studies of exoplanetary atmospheres, which can provide clues about their ability to support life.

planet

Current models predict that if such a planet contains a vast surface ocean, then on its warmer day side there should be an ice-free area, locked on all sides by a global ice shell. However, as noted by Jun Yan, previous simulations did not fully take into account the important component of the climate system – ice dynamics – which did not allow revealing the issue of ocean resilience to global glaciation.

“In our work, we show that ice drifting from the night side of the exoplanet flows into an open area, gradually cooling, reducing, and ultimately completely sealing it.

It should be noted that such a scenario is applicable only to worlds living in the outer and, possibly, in the middle regions of the inhabited zone, but not to those located at its inner edge, since for them the flux of stellar radiation is high enough to melt ice and snow on the surface and maintain liquid water on the day and even night sides. In addition, the presence of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere plays a small role, since a large number of them will save the exoplanet from turning into a snowball, ”Jun Yan explained.

But, in spite of the fact that planets completely covered with ice are extremely inhospitable for life, one should not put an end to their potential for habitability, because the Earth itself in the past twice experienced periods of global glaciation: 2.2 billion years ago and 630 million years ago.

“For example, photosynthetic organisms can develop in areas with thin ice, where stellar radiation nevertheless reaches liquid water, or in local unsealed areas where active geothermal processes occur, or, finally, in some“ bays, ”where access to drifting ice is limited.” – concluded Jun Yan.

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Betelgeuse star continues to fade, preparing for an explosion

Betelgeuse continues to fade, but is the light preparing to break out a supernova, or are some other processes leading to this?

Betelgeuse
© universetoday.com

Astronomers from Villanova University Edward Ginan and Richard Wasatonic were the first scientists to report Betelgeuse tarnishing. Now they are reporting that the brightness of the star continues to decline.

Recall that Betelgeuse is a red-orange super-giant pulsating star in the constellation Orion, which is 700 light-years distant from Earth. At the end of it’s life, Betelgeuse will explode a supernova, and probably this has already happened.

It is important to note that Betelgeuse is a variable star, which means its brightness is a variable.

Astronomers are well aware of this and have long observed the brightness change cycles. Most fluctuations are predictable, but what happens to Betelgeuse today is an anomaly.

The star became fainter than ever in the history of observations.

According to information provided by Ginan and Vasatonic, the temperature of Betelgeuse over 3 months fell by almost 173 degrees Celsius, and its brightness fell by 25%. At the same time, the radius of the object grew by about 9%.

Betelgeuse star continues to fade, preparing for an explosion
Each circle is a separate observer (telescope, spacecraft) for Betelgeuse, recording changes in luminosity. The fall in brightness at the beginning of 2020 can be seen very well on the right in the image (© universetoday.com)

We are very lucky that, by the standards of the Universe, Betelgeuse is so close to us. We can observe the evolutionary process of another star and collect such detailed data.

Betelgeuse flashed a supernova?

Probably. However, scientists are considering any other options and do not want to focus only on this conclusion.

They assume that a decrease in brightness could cause a gas-dust cloud flying between us and Betelgeuse. By the way, it could also explain the temperature drop. What to do with the growth of the radius? It is possible that this is simply “age-related edema” caused by a natural evolutionary process.

There is a possibility that Betelgeuse has already flashed a supernova or that we are observing its unstable behavior before this event, which will be the most spectacular natural disaster available to humans.

Supernova explosion
© wikipedia.org

Yes, astronomers observed supernovae such as SN 185 and SN 1604, but they were extremely far from Earth, so no details were even discussed.

When Betelgeuse explodes (or has already exploded), this event will become the third brightest object in the earth’s sky after the Sun and the full Moon. By some estimates, it will be even brighter than the moon!

This glow will persist for months or even years, casting a shadow on Earth at night. After about 3 years, this colossal brightness will disappear, and after 6 years there will be no trace in the night sky.

When will this happen?

Astronomers know what will happen, but they don’t know when exactly, answering something like: “yesterday, tomorrow or in a century.”

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