Feed aggregator

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  • warning: date() [function.date]: It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'Europe/London' for 'BST/1.0/DST' instead in /var/sites/d/digitallearningfoundation.org/public_html/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 260.
  • warning: date() [function.date]: It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'Europe/London' for 'BST/1.0/DST' instead in /var/sites/d/digitallearningfoundation.org/public_html/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 260.
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  • warning: date() [function.date]: It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'Europe/London' for 'BST/1.0/DST' instead in /var/sites/d/digitallearningfoundation.org/public_html/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 260.
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  • warning: date() [function.date]: It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'Europe/London' for 'BST/1.0/DST' instead in /var/sites/d/digitallearningfoundation.org/public_html/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 260.
  • warning: date() [function.date]: It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'Europe/London' for 'BST/1.0/DST' instead in /var/sites/d/digitallearningfoundation.org/public_html/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 260.
  • warning: date() [function.date]: It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'Europe/London' for 'BST/1.0/DST' instead in /var/sites/d/digitallearningfoundation.org/public_html/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 260.
  • warning: date() [function.date]: It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'Europe/London' for 'BST/1.0/DST' instead in /var/sites/d/digitallearningfoundation.org/public_html/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 260.
  • warning: date() [function.date]: It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'Europe/London' for 'BST/1.0/DST' instead in /var/sites/d/digitallearningfoundation.org/public_html/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 260.
  • warning: date() [function.date]: It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'Europe/London' for 'BST/1.0/DST' instead in /var/sites/d/digitallearningfoundation.org/public_html/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 260.
  • warning: date() [function.date]: It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'Europe/London' for 'BST/1.0/DST' instead in /var/sites/d/digitallearningfoundation.org/public_html/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 260.
  • warning: date() [function.date]: It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'Europe/London' for 'BST/1.0/DST' instead in /var/sites/d/digitallearningfoundation.org/public_html/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 260.
  • warning: date() [function.date]: It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'Europe/London' for 'BST/1.0/DST' instead in /var/sites/d/digitallearningfoundation.org/public_html/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 260.
  • warning: date() [function.date]: It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'Europe/London' for 'BST/1.0/DST' instead in /var/sites/d/digitallearningfoundation.org/public_html/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 260.
  • warning: date() [function.date]: It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'Europe/London' for 'BST/1.0/DST' instead in /var/sites/d/digitallearningfoundation.org/public_html/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 260.
  • warning: date() [function.date]: It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'Europe/London' for 'BST/1.0/DST' instead in /var/sites/d/digitallearningfoundation.org/public_html/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 260.
  • warning: date() [function.date]: It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'Europe/London' for 'BST/1.0/DST' instead in /var/sites/d/digitallearningfoundation.org/public_html/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 260.
  • warning: date() [function.date]: It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'Europe/London' for 'BST/1.0/DST' instead in /var/sites/d/digitallearningfoundation.org/public_html/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 260.
  • warning: date() [function.date]: It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'Europe/London' for 'BST/1.0/DST' instead in /var/sites/d/digitallearningfoundation.org/public_html/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 260.
  • warning: date() [function.date]: It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'Europe/London' for 'BST/1.0/DST' instead in /var/sites/d/digitallearningfoundation.org/public_html/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 260.
  • warning: date() [function.date]: It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'Europe/London' for 'BST/1.0/DST' instead in /var/sites/d/digitallearningfoundation.org/public_html/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 260.
  • warning: date() [function.date]: It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'Europe/London' for 'BST/1.0/DST' instead in /var/sites/d/digitallearningfoundation.org/public_html/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 260.
  • warning: date() [function.date]: It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'Europe/London' for 'BST/1.0/DST' instead in /var/sites/d/digitallearningfoundation.org/public_html/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 260.
  • warning: date() [function.date]: It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'Europe/London' for 'BST/1.0/DST' instead in /var/sites/d/digitallearningfoundation.org/public_html/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 260.
  • warning: date() [function.date]: It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'Europe/London' for 'BST/1.0/DST' instead in /var/sites/d/digitallearningfoundation.org/public_html/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 260.
  • warning: date() [function.date]: It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'Europe/London' for 'BST/1.0/DST' instead in /var/sites/d/digitallearningfoundation.org/public_html/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 260.
  • warning: date() [function.date]: It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'Europe/London' for 'BST/1.0/DST' instead in /var/sites/d/digitallearningfoundation.org/public_html/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 260.
  • warning: date() [function.date]: It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'Europe/London' for 'BST/1.0/DST' instead in /var/sites/d/digitallearningfoundation.org/public_html/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 260.
  • warning: date() [function.date]: It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'Europe/London' for 'BST/1.0/DST' instead in /var/sites/d/digitallearningfoundation.org/public_html/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 260.
  • warning: date() [function.date]: It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'Europe/London' for 'BST/1.0/DST' instead in /var/sites/d/digitallearningfoundation.org/public_html/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 260.

Perseid Fireball at Sunset Crater

Astronomy picture of the day - 2 hours 26 min ago

Perseid Fireball at Sunset Crater Perseid Fireball at Sunset Crater


Categories: pictures, Science, Space

Perseid Night at Yosemite

Astronomy picture of the day - 2 hours 26 min ago

The 2016 Perseid meteor shower The 2016 Perseid meteor shower


Categories: pictures, Science, Space

Meteor before Galaxy

Astronomy picture of the day - 2 hours 26 min ago

What's that green streak in front of the Andromeda galaxy? What's that green streak in front of the Andromeda galaxy?


Categories: pictures, Science, Space

Five Planets and the Moon over Australia

Astronomy picture of the day - 2 hours 26 min ago

It is not a coincidence that planets line up. It is not a coincidence that planets line up.


Categories: pictures, Science, Space

Human as Spaceship

Astronomy picture of the day - 2 hours 26 min ago

You are a spaceship soaring through the universe. You are a spaceship soaring through the universe.


Categories: pictures, Science, Space

The Keyhole in the Carina Nebula

Astronomy picture of the day - 2 hours 26 min ago

The dark dusty Keyhole Nebula gets its name from its unusual shape. The dark dusty Keyhole Nebula gets its name from its unusual shape.


Categories: pictures, Science, Space

Gamma rays and Comet Dust

Astronomy picture of the day - 2 hours 26 min ago

Gamma rays and Comet Dust Gamma rays and Comet Dust


Categories: pictures, Science, Space

California wildfires: Blue Cut blaze curbed as evacuees return

BBC Science - 5 hours 54 min ago
Firefighters in California gain ground in tackling the massive Blue Cut wildfire, containing around 40% and allowing many evacuees to return home.
Categories: Science

9/11 merged US immigration and terrorism efforts at Latinos' expense, study finds

EurekAlert! - 12 hours 8 min ago
After Sept. 11, issues of immigration and terrorism merged, heightening surveillance and racializing Latino immigrants as a threat to national security, according to sociologists at The University of Texas at Austin.
Categories: Science

Teens in therapeutic boarding school adopt atypical gender behaviors to reassert dominance

EurekAlert! - 12 hours 8 min ago
While studying the rapid growth of the therapeutic boarding school industry, Jessica A. Pfaffendorf observed that troubled young men in at least one program most often displayed a type of 'hybrid masculinity.'
Categories: Science

'I miss you so much': How Twitter is broadening the conversation on death and mourning

EurekAlert! - 12 hours 8 min ago
Death and mourning were largely considered private matters in the 20th century, with the public remembrances common in previous eras replaced by intimate gatherings behind closed doors in funeral parlors and family homes. But social media is redefining how people grieve, and Twitter in particular -- with its ephemeral mix of rapid-fire broadcast and personal expression -- is widening the conversation around death and mourning, two University of Washington (UW) sociologists say.
Categories: Science

Youth cyberbullying most common among current or former friends and dating partners

EurekAlert! - 12 hours 8 min ago
Youth cyberbullying is dramatically more likely to occur between current or former friends and dating partners than between students who were never friends or in a romantic relationship, suggests a new study.
Categories: Science

Study highlights crucial ethnic majority-minority divide in Kyrgyzstan

EurekAlert! - 12 hours 8 min ago
Members of minority ethnic groups in Kyrgyzstan, who are often marginalized politically and economically, differ from members of the ethnic majority in their assessment of interethnic relations and their prospects.
Categories: Science

'I miss you so much': How Twitter is broadening the conversation on death and mourning

EurekAlert! - 12 hours 8 min ago
Social media is redefining how people grieve, bringing conversations about death back into the public realm, University of Washington sociologists found. And Twitter in particular, they say, is broadening the discourse around who may engage when someone dies.
Categories: Science

New Visualization Of Waves In Saturn’s Rings Puts You In The Keeler Gap

Universe Today - Fri, 19/08/2016 - 21:29

 Kevin Gill/Flickr

Fans of astronomy are no doubt familiar with the work of Kevin Gill. In the past, he has brought us visualizations of what the Earth would look like if it had a system of rings, what a "Living Mars" would look like - i.e. if it was covered in oceans and lush vegetation - and an artistic rendition of the places we've been in our Solar System. In his latest work, which once again merges the artistic and astronomical, Gill has created a series of images that show Saturn's moon of Daphnis, and the effect it has on Saturn's Keeler Gap. Through these images - titled "Daphnis in the Keeler Gap" and "Daphnis and Waves Along the Keeler Gap" - we get to see an artistic rendition of how one of Saturn's moons interacts with its beautiful ring system. As one of Saturn's smallest moons - measuring just 8 km (~5 mi) in diameter - the existence of Daphnis had been previously inferred by astronomers based on the gravitational ripples that were observed on the outer edge of the Keeler Gap. This 42 km (26 mi) wide gap, which lies in Saturn's A Ring and is approximately 250 km from the its outer edge, is kept clear by Daphnis' orbit around the planet. In 2005, the Cassini space probe finally confirmed the existence of this tiny moon. After analyzing images provided by the probe, the Cassini Imaging Science Team concluded that Daphnis' path and orbit induce a wavy pattern in the edge of the gap. These waves reach a distance of 1.5 km (0.93 mi) above the ring, due to Daphnis being slightly inclined to the ring's plane. However, all the images taken by Cassini showed this effect from a great distance. In order to help people appreciate what it must look like close-up, Gill decided to create the visuals you see here. From his images, the passage of Daphnis is shown to give the A Ring a rippled, wavy appearance. In addition, one can see how Daphnis is inclined slightly above the plane of the A Ring, causing the waves to reach upward. As Kevin Gill told Universe Today via email, these images were the largely inspired by the most recent images of Saturn's rings that were provided by Cassini space probe, which returned to an equatorial orbit a few months ago after spending two years in high-inclination orbits: "These are inspired by a general interest in the moon-ring interactions and some recent Cassini views of Daphnis on the 15th (shown below). This is one of the many aspects of the Saturn system that I imagine would be absolutely breathtaking if you could see it in person and ended up being rather simple to model in Maya." [caption id="attachment_130366" align="aligncenter" width="580"]"N00265450.jpg

The post New Visualization Of Waves In Saturn’s Rings Puts You In The Keeler Gap appeared first on Universe Today.

Categories: Science, Space

Europa Clipper Team Braces For Bad News

Universe Today - Fri, 19/08/2016 - 20:58

 NASA/JPL-Caltech

Jupiter's moon Europa is a juicy target for exploration. Beneath its surface of ice there's a warm salty, ocean. Or potentially, at least. And if Earth is our guide, wherever you find a warm, salty, ocean, you find life. But finding it requires a dedicated, and unique, mission. If each of the bodies in our Solar System weren't so different from each other, we could just have one or two types of missions. Things would be much easier, but also much more boring. But Europa isn't boring, and it won't be easy to explore. Exploring it will require a complex, custom mission. That means expensive. NASA's proposed mission to Europa is called the Europa Clipper. It's been in the works for a few years now. But as the mission takes shape, and as the science gets worked out, a parallel process of budget wrangling is also ongoing. And as reported by SpaceNews.com there could be bad news incoming for the first-ever mission to Europa. At issue is next year's funding for the Europa Clipper. Officials with NASA’s Outer Planets Assessment Group are looking for ways to economize and cut costs for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017, while still staying on track for a mission launch in 2022. According to Bob Pappalardo, Europa Clipper's project scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, funding will be squeezed in 2017. “There is this squeeze in FY17 that we have,” said Pappalardo. “We’re asking the instrument teams and various other aspects of the project, given that squeeze, what will it take in the out years to maintain that ’22 launch." As for the actual dollar amounts, there are different numbers floating around, and they don't all jive with each other. In 2016, the Europa Mission received $175 million from Congress, but in the administration's budget proposal for 2017, they only requested $49.6 million. There's clearly some uncertainty in these numbers, and that uncertainty is reflected in Congress, too. An FY 2017 House bill earmarks $260 million for the Europa mission. And the Senate has crafted a bill in support of the mission, but doesn't allocate any funding for it. Neither the Senate nor the Congress has passed their bills. This is not the first time that a mis-alignment has appeared between NASA and the different levels of government when it comes to funding. It's pretty common. It's also pretty common for the higher level of funding to prevail. But it's odd that NASA's requested amount is so low. NASA's own low figure of $49.6 million is fuelling the perception that they themselves are losing interest in the Europa Clipper. But SpaceNews.com is reporting that that is not the case. According to Curt Niebur, NASA's program scientist for the Europa mission, “Everyone is aware of how supportive and generous Congress has been of this mission, and I’m happy to say that that support and encouragement is now shared by the administration, and by NASA as well. Everybody is on board the Europa Clipper and getting this mission to the launch pad as soon as our technical challenges and our budget will allow.” [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEuCdnxP_V8[/embed] What all this seems to mean is that the initial science and instrumentation for the mission will be maintained, but no additional capacity will be added. NASA is no longer considering things like free-flying probes to measure the plumes of water ice coming off the moon. According to Niebur, “The additional science value provided by these additions was not commensurate with the associated impact to resources, to accommodation, to cost. There just wasn’t enough science there to balance that out.” The Europa Clipper will be a direct shot to Europa, without any gravity assist on the way. It will likely be powered by the Space Launch System. The main goal of the mission is to learn more about the icy moon's potential habitability. There are tantalizing clues that it has an ocean about 100 km thick, kept warm by the gravity-tidal interactions with Jupiter, and possibly by radioactive decay in the rocky mantle. There's also some evidence that the composition of the sub-surface ocean is similar to Earth's. Mars is a fascinating target, no doubt about it. But as far as harbouring life, Europa might be a better bet. Europa's warm, salty ocean versus Mar's dry, cold surface? A lot of resources have been spent studying Mars, and the Europa mission represents a shift in resources in that regard. It's unfortunate that a few tens of million dollars here or there can hamper our search for life beyond Earth. But the USA is a democracy, so that's the way it is. These discrepancies and possible disputes between NASA and the different levels of government may seem disconcerting, but that's the way these things get done. At least we hope it is. Sources: SpaceNews.com Europa on Universe Today: SpaceNews.com

The post Europa Clipper Team Braces For Bad News appeared first on Universe Today.

Categories: Science, Space

Venus-like Exoplanet 39 Light Years Distant Is Probably Baked & Sterile

Universe Today - Fri, 19/08/2016 - 19:47

 cfa.harvard.edu

Last year, astronomers discovered a terrestrial exoplanet orbiting GJ 1132, a red dwarf star located just 12 parsecs (39 light years) away from Earth. Though too close to its parent star to be anything other than extremely hot, astronomers were intrigued to note that it appeared to still be cool enough to have an atmosphere. This was quite exciting, as it represented numerous opportunities for research. In essence, the planet appeared to be "Venus-like" - i.e. very hot, but still in possession of an atmosphere. What's more, it was close enough to our Solar System that its atmosphere could be studied in detail. However, a debate began over whether its atmosphere would be hot and wet, or thin and tenuous. And after a year of study, a team of astronomers from the CfA believe they have unlocked that mystery.

In addition to being relatively close to our own Solar System in astronomical terms, the Venus-like exoplanet GJ 1132b also has a relatively small orbital period around its star. This means that opportunities to spot it as it passes in front of its star (i.e. the Transit Method), occur quite often.

This makes it an excellent target for detailed observation and study, which in turn will help astronomers to learn more about terrestrial exoplanets that orbit close to red dwarf stars. But as noted already, astronomers were divided on the issue of GJ 1132b's atmosphere. Thanks to the research efforts of Laura Schaefer and her colleagues from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), it now appears that the case for a thin atmosphere is the far more likely. Interestingly enough, this was confirmed by determining just how much oxygen the planet has in its atmosphere. For the sake of their study, which was outlined in a paper that approved for publication in The Astrophysical Journal - titled "Predictions of the atmospheric composition of GJ 1132b" - they explain how they used a "magma ocean-atmosphere" model to determine what would happen to GJ 1132b over time if it began with a water-rich atmosphere. They began with the knowledge that a planet like GJ 1132b - which orbits its star at a distance of 2.25 million km (1.4 million mi) - would be subjected to intense amounts of ultraviolet light. This would result in any water vapor in the atmosphere being broken down into hydrogen and oxygen (a process known as photolysis), with the hydrogen escaping into space and the oxygen being retained. At the same time, they determined that the planet's atmosphere and proximity to its star would lead to a severe greenhouse effect that would leave the surface molten for a long time. This "magma ocean" would likely interact with the atmosphere by absorbing some of the oxygen. How much would be absorbed and how much would be retained was the big question. They concluded that the planet's magma ocean would absorb about one-tenth of the oxygen in the atmosphere. The majority of the remaining 90 percent, according to their model, would be lost to space while a small margin would linger around the planet. This proved to be very much consistent with measurements made of the planet thus far. As Dr. Laura Schaefer explained to Universe Today via email: "We determined that the planet would likely have a thin atmosphere by doing a suite of models looking at atmospheric loss and interaction with a surface magma ocean. For the allowable composition range (esp. the abundance of water) based on the current mass measurement, nearly all of the allowed compositions resulted in thin atmospheres, except at the very extreme upper end of the range." This magma ocean-atmosphere model could not only help scientists to study terrestrial exoplanets that orbit close to their parent stars, but also to understand how our own planet Venus came to be. For some time, scientists have theorized that Venus began with significant amounts of water on its surface, but that it then underwent a significant change. This ocean is believed to have evaporated due to Venus' closer proximity to the Sun, with the ensuing water vapor triggering a runaway greenhouse effect. Over time, ultraviolet radiation from the Sun broke apart the water molecules, resulting in the hot, virtually waterless atmosphere we see today. However, what happened to all the oxygen has remained a mystery. "We also have plans to use this model in the future to study Venus, which may have once had about the same amount of water as the Earth but is now very dry," said Schaefer. "There is very little O2 left in Venus' atmosphere, so this model would help us understand what happened to that oxygen (whether it was lost to space or absorbed by the planet's mantle)." Schaefer predicts that their model will also assist researchers with the study of other, similar exoplanets. One example is the TRAPPIST-1 system, which contains three planets that may lie with the star's the habitable zone. But as Schaefer put it, the real value lies in the fact that we are more likely to find "Venus-like" worlds down the road: "Most of the rocky planets that we know of and will discover in the near future will likely be hotter than the Earth or even Venus, just because it is easier to detect hotter planets. So there are a lot of planets out there similar to GJ 1132b just waiting to be studied!" Headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) is a joint collaboration between the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Harvard College Observatory. It's scientists are dedicated to studying the origin, evolution and future of the universe. And be sure to check out this video, courtesy of MIT news: https://youtu.be/2nbNnU2bcII Further Reading: CfA, arXiv

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