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It’s Official: NASA Scientists and Astronomers have discovered another Earth

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It’s Official: Scientists Discovered A "Second Earth"

Astronomers have discovered a planet nearly the same size as Earth that orbits in its star’s habitable zone, where liquid water could exist on its surface, a new study said.

The presence of liquid water also indicates the planet could support life.

This newly found world, Kepler-1649c, is 300 light-years away from Earth and orbits a star that is about one-fourth the size of our sun.

What’s exciting is that out of all the 2,000 plus exoplanets that have been discovered, this world is most similar to Earth both in size and estimated temperature, NASA said.

This exoplanet is...

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Saturn is often referred to as the "ringed planet" due to its unique feature of a series of concentric rings that encircle the planet’s equator. These rings have fascinated astronomers for centuries, and scientists have spent decades studying them to understand their origin, composition, and evolution. In this article, we will explore the different aspects of Saturn’s rings, including how many rings there are, what holds them up, and how old they are.

What Holds Up Saturn’s Rings?

Saturn’s rings are held up by gravity and centrifugal force. The rings are made up of countless particles ranging in size from tiny specks of dust to large boulders. These particles are in constant motion, orbiting Saturn at different speeds. The force of gravity between Saturn and these particles keeps them in orbit around the planet, while the centrifugal force generated by the motion of the particles keeps them from falling onto the planet’s surface.

How Many Rings Does Saturn Have?

Saturn has an extensive collection of rings, consisting of seven main rings labeled A through G. The rings are numbered in the order they were discovered, with the A ring being the outermost and the G ring being the innermost. The total number of rings can vary depending on how they are counted, but there are at least 82 distinct ring structures within the main rings.

Saturn’s rings are classified into three main types based on their composition and characteristics. The first type is the bright, icy rings, which are primarily made up of water ice particles. The second type is the dark, dusty rings, which are composed of silicate particles and other organic materials. The third type is the narrow, braided rings, which are a complex mix of different types of particles.

How Old Are the Ring Features on Saturn?

The age of Saturn’s rings is a subject of ongoing research, but scientists estimate that the rings are relatively young, probably less than 100 million years old. The exact age is difficult to determine because the rings are constantly changing, with particles colliding and breaking apart, and new particles being added from the planet’s moons.

Are Other Planets Surrounded by Rings?

Saturn is not the only planet with rings. Three other planets in our solar system have known ring systems: Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune. However, these planets’ ring systems are much less extensive and complex than Saturn’s, with Jupiter’s rings being the least prominent of the three.

Saturn’s rings are a fascinating feature of the planet, providing astronomers with a wealth of information about the planet’s history and composition. Despite decades of research, there is still much to learn about these rings, and scientists will continue to study them to unravel their mysteries.

The closest star from Sun is located just over 4 light-years away in the Alpha Centauri star system. It is a binary star system, meaning that it is comprised of two stars that orbit around a common center of mass. The two stars are known as Alpha Centauri A and Alpha Centauri B, with a third star, Proxima Centauri, located even closer to Earth.

Alpha Centauri A and B are similar in size and brightness to our own sun. Alpha Centauri A is slightly larger and brighter than our sun, while Alpha Centauri B is slightly smaller and cooler. Both stars are located in the constellation Centaurus, which can be seen in the southern hemisphere.

Proxima Centauri, on the other hand, is a much smaller and cooler star known as a red dwarf. It is located just over 4.2 light-years away from Earth, making it the closest known star to our solar system. Despite its proximity, Proxima Centauri is much too faint to be seen with the naked eye and can only be detected with telescopes.

The discovery of the Alpha Centauri star system dates back to the early 19th century, when astronomers began using telescopes to observe the night sky in more detail. In 1832, Scottish astronomer Thomas Henderson measured the parallax of Alpha Centauri, which allowed him to calculate its distance from Earth. This discovery marked the first time that the distance to a star other than the sun had been accurately measured.

The Alpha Centauri system has been the subject of much scientific study and speculation over the years. In 2016, a team of astronomers discovered an Earth-sized planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, raising the possibility that there could be other habitable planets in the system. This discovery has sparked renewed interest in exploring the Alpha Centauri system in search of extraterrestrial life.

In recent years, there have been several initiatives to send spacecraft to the Alpha Centauri system, including the Breakthrough Starshot project, which aims to send a fleet of tiny spacecraft to the system using laser propulsion. While such missions are still in the planning stages, they represent an exciting possibility for exploring the closest star system to our own.

In conclusion, the closest star from Earth is located in the Alpha Centauri system, comprised of Alpha Centauri A and B, and the smaller red dwarf, Proxima Centauri. The discovery of this system has played a key role in our understanding of the universe, and ongoing efforts to explore it hold the promise of further scientific breakthroughs in the years to come.

Looking up at the moon in the night sky, you would never imagine that it is slowly moving away from Earth. But we know otherwise. In 1969, NASA’s Apollo missions installed reflective panels on the moon. These have shown that the moon is currently moving 3.8 cm away from the Earth every year.

If we take the moon’s current rate of recession and project it back in time, we end up with a collision between the Earth and moon around 1.5 billion years ago. However, the moon was formed around 4.5 billion years ago, meaning that the current recession rate is a poor guide for the past.

Along with our fellow researchers from Utrecht University and the University of Geneva, we have been using a combination of techniques to try and gain information on our solar system’s distant past.

We recently discovered the perfect place to uncover the long-term history of our receding moon. And it’s not from studying the moon itself, but from reading signals in ancient layers of rock on Earth.

Reading between the layers

In the beautiful Karijini National Park in western Australia, some gorges cut through 2.5 billion year old, rhythmically layered sediments. These sediments are banded iron formations, comprising distinctive layers of iron and silica-rich minerals once widely deposited on the ocean floor and now found on the oldest parts of the Earth’s crust.

Cliff exposures at Joffre Falls show how layers of reddish-brown iron formation just under a metre thick are alternated, at regular intervals, by darker, thinner horizons.The darker intervals are composed of a softer type of rock which is more susceptible to erosion. A closer look at the outcrops reveals the presence of an additionally regular, smaller-scale variation. Rock surfaces, which have been polished by seasonal river water running through the gorge, uncover a pattern of alternating white, reddish and blueish-grey layers.

In 1972, Australian geologist A.F. Trendall raised the question about the origin of the different scales of cyclical, recurrent patterns visible in these ancient rock layers. He suggested that the patterns might be related to past variations in climate induced by the so-called "Milankovitch cycles."

Cyclical climate changes

The Milankovitch cycles describe how small, periodic changes in the shape of the Earth’s orbit and the orientation of its axis influence the distribution of sunlight received by Earth over spans of years.

Right now, the dominant Milankovitch cycles change every 400,000 years, 100,000 years, 41,000 years and 21,000 years. These variations exert a strong control on our climate over long time periods.Key examples of the influence of Milankovitch climate forcing in the past are the occurrence of extreme cold or warm periods, as well as wetter or dryer regional climate conditions.

These climate changes have significantly altered the conditions at Earth’s surface, such as the size of lakes. They are the explanation for the periodic greening of the Saharan desert and low levels of oxygen in the deep ocean. Milankovitch cycles have also influenced the migration and evolution of flora and fauna including our own species.

And the signatures of these changes can be read through cyclical changes in sedimentary rocks.

Recorded wobbles

The distance between the Earth and the moon is directly related to the frequency of one of the Milankovitch cycles — the climatic precession cycle. This cycle arises from the precessional motion (wobble) or changing orientation of the Earth’s spin axis over time. This cycle currently has a duration of ~21,000 years, but this period would have been shorter in the past when the moon was closer to Earth.

This means that if we can first find Milankovitch cycles in old sediments and then find a signal of the Earth’s wobble and establish its period, we can estimate the distance between the Earth and the moon at the time the sediments were deposited.

Our previous research showed that Milankovitch cycles may be preserved in an ancient banded iron formation in South Africa, thus supporting Trendall’s theory.

The banded iron formations in Australia were probably deposited in the same ocean as the South African rocks, around 2.5 billion years ago. However, the cyclic variations in the Australian rocks are better exposed, allowing us to study the variations at much higher resolution.

Our analysis of the Australian banded iron formation showed that the rocks contained multiple scales of cyclical variations which approximately repeat at 10 and 85 cm intervals. On combining these thicknesses with the rate at which the sediments were deposited, we found that these cyclical variations occurred approximately every 11,000 years and 100,000 years.

Therefore, our analysis suggested that the 11,000 cycle observed in the rocks is likely related to the climatic precession cycle, having a much shorter period than the current ~21,000 years. We then used this precession signal to calculate the distance between the Earth and the moon 2.46 billion years ago.

We found that the moon was around 60,000 kilometres closer to the Earth then (that distance is about 1.5 times the circumference of Earth). This would make the length of a day much shorter than it is now, at roughly 17 hours rather than the current 24 hours.

Understanding solar system dynamics

Research in astronomy has provided models for the formation of our solar system, and observations of current conditions.

Our study and some research by others represents one of the only methods to obtain real data on the evolution of our solar system, and will be crucial for future models of the Earth-moon system.

It’s quite amazing that past solar system dynamics can be determined from small variations in ancient sedimentary rocks. However, one important data point doesn’t give us a full understanding of the evolution of the Earth-moon system.

We now need other reliable data and new modelling approaches to trace the evolution of the moon through time. And our research team has already begun the hunt for the next suite of rocks that can help us uncover more clues about the history of the solar system.

Joshua Davies, Professor, Sciences de la Terre et de l’atmosphère, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) and Margriet Lantink, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Geoscience, University of Wisconsin-Madison

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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