Venus Transit

Hubble May See Transit of Earth in 2014

Venus will pass in front of the sun from Earth’s perspective on Tuesday (June 5; Wednesday, June 6, in much of the Eastern Hemisphere), marking the last such Venus transit until 2117. However, there’s a chance to observe an Earth transit less than two years from now using a little creative thinking, some researchers note. In January 2014, Jupiter will witness a transit of Earth. And we can see it too, the astronomers say, by training NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope on the huge planet and studying the sunlight it reflects.

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Sun Superflare

Superflares of Sun-Like Stars

Astronomers have previously detected superflares from a variety of star types, which release bursts that have 10 to 10,000 times more energy than the largest solar flare ever detected from our sun. Scientists wanted to know how common these outbursts might be from stars like the sun, those with masses and temperatures similar to our star. Even normal solar flares can damage satellites, endanger astronauts and wreak havoc on electrical grids on Earth, suggesting that superflares might be catastrophic to life on Earth.

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Alien Super Earth Light

NASA’s infrared Spitzer Space Telescope spotted light from the alien planet 55 Cancri e, which orbits a star 41 light-years from Earth. A year on the extrasolar planet lasts just 18 hours. The planet 55 Cancri e was first discovered in 2004 and is not a habitable world. Instead, it is known as a super-Earth because of its size: The world is about twice the width of Earth and is super-dense, with about eight times the mass of Earth. But until now, scientists have never managed to detect the infrared light from the super-Earth world. Spitzer first detected infrared light from an alien planet in 2005.

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Alien Solar Systems Unlikely Homes for Earth-Like Planets

As said alien solar systems that are home to so-called Hot Jupiters are unlikely homes for Earth-like planets. Hot Jupiters get their name from the fact that they are approximately Jupiter’s size, but extraordinarily near their stars, at about a tenth of the distance from Mercury to our sun. These roaster planets are among the alien worlds that astronomers have discovered most often since their size and proximity to their parent stars mean they exert large gravitational tugs on their hosts that scientists can readily spot.

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Hubble Space Telescope Captures Auroras on Uranus

The Uranus aurora photos were captured by the Hubble Space Telescope, marking the first time the icy blue planet’s light show has been seen by an observatory near Earth. Until now, the only views of auroras on Uranus were from the NASA Voyager probe that zipped by the planet in 1986. Hubble recorded auroras on the day side of Uranus only twice, both times in 2011, while the planet was 2.5 billion miles (4 billion kilometers) from Earth.

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Giant Magnetic Bubbles Around Venus

Magnetic phenomenon that causes auroras on Earth has now surprisingly been discovered creating giant magnetic bubbles around Venus, a planet without a magnetic field. The Northern and Southern Lights on Earth are caused by magnetic lines of force breaking and connecting with each other. This process, known as magnetic reconnection, can explosively convert magnetic energy to heat and kinetic energy.

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Spectacular Sky Show of Bright Comet PANSTARRS

A year from now, it is possible that “comet fever” will be running high when a newfound comet emerges into view in the evening sky. But while some scientists have high hopes for a spectacular 2013 sky show by the comet, it is still far from certain. When astronomers at the University of Hawaii at Manoa announced last June that they had discovered the new comet, it was a distant and inconspicuous object.

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An Ancient Planetary System Discovered

Astronomers have discovered a planetary system that formed nearly 13 billion years ago, suggesting the early universe harbored more planets than has been thought. The system consists of a star called HIP 11952 and two Jupiter-like alien planets. It is just 375 light-years from Earth, in the constellation Cetus (the Whale). The planets are likely the oldest yet found, at 12.8 billion years old, they’re just 900 million years younger than the universe itself, according to the commonly accepted Big Bang theory. HIP 11952 contains very little other than hydrogen and helium.

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