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An Interstellar Object’s Masquerade

    An Interstellar Object’s Masquerade By Judith E Braffman-Miller Some of the smaller inhabitants of our own Solar System are naughty little objects that teasingly refuse to be designated as one thing or another. But, what is true for our Sun and its family is apparently also true for the children of other stars, and a recent invader from…

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Interstellar Dust From Our Solar System’s Birth

    Interstellar Dust From Our Solar System’s Birth By Judith E Braffman-Miller Our Sun formed from the jumbled leftovers of the nuclear-fusing furnaces of earlier generations of stars–and like other stars, it was born within a dense, frigid blob cradled within one of the giant, dark, interstellar molecular clouds that float through our Milky Way Galaxy in huge numbers….

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Snowball Planets

    Snowball Planets By Judith E Braffman-Miller Today, Earth is located comfortably within the inner edge of our Star’s habitable zone, where conditions are favorable for the emergence and evolution of life as we know it. However, this has not always been the case. Indeed, some astronomers propose that in the early days of our Solar System, our planet…

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An Asteroid “Weirdo” In The Kuiper Belt

    An Asteroid “Weirdo” In The Kuiper Belt By Judith E Braffman-Miller Asteroids and their comet-cousins are the relics of a bygone era when our Sun and its familiar family of objects were still in the process of forming. During this very ancient time, our Solar System was a “cosmic shooting gallery”, where relatively small and primitive primordial bodies–called…

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Falling Diamonds From A Long-Lost Planet

    Falling Diamonds From A Long-Lost Planet By Judith E Braffman-Miller Our ancient Solar System was a violent place, where primordial objects crashed into one another, blasting each other into a multitude of fragments. This chaotic, turbulent mess of primordial crashes, occurring between rampaging objects, has inspired some planetary scientists to refer to our ancient, still-forming Solar System as…

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Asteroid 2002 AJ129 to Fly Safely Past Earth Super Bowl Sunday

Asteroid 2002 AJ129 will make a close approach to Earth on Super Bowl Sunday, February 4, 2018 at 1:30 p.m. PST. At the time of closest approach, the asteroid will be no closer than 10 times the distance between Earth and the Moon. 2002 AJ129 is an intermediate-sized near-Earth asteroid, somewhere between 0.3 miles and 0.75 miles across. It was…

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Mercury Helps Reveal Our Middle-Aged Sun’s Secrets

    Mercury Helps Reveal Our Middle-Aged Sun’s Secrets By Judith E Braffman-Miller About 4.56 billion years ago, our Solar System was born from the relic, shredded fragments left behind by the long-dead, nuclear-fusing furnaces of previous generations of ancient stars. Today, our Sun is a lonely sphere of roiling, glaring, mostly hydrogen gas, but it probably was not always…

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Tiny, Tiny Failed Star: How We Wonder What You Are

    Tiny, Tiny Failed Star: How We Wonder What You Are By Judith E Braffman-Miller Bewitching, bewildering brown dwarfs are genuine “oddballs”–and their existence in the Universe presents astronomers with an intriguing mystery to solve. This is because these stellar “failures” challenge the neat distinction between true stars and giant planets. Brown dwarfs are substellar objects that occupy a…

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A Dynamic Duo Of Alien “Oddballs” May Solve The Puffy Planet Puzzle

    A Dynamic Duo Of Alien “Oddballs” May Solve The Puffy Planet Puzzle By Judith E Braffman-Miller Hot Jupiters are wacky Wonder Worlds that cling closely to their parent-stars in incredibly speedy, roasting orbits. These bewitching behemoths are gas giant exoplanets with orbital periods that are less than 10 days long, and their extremely hot orbits around their roiling,…

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