Quick astronomy news update

By Phil Plait | August 7, 2007 5:13 pm

I get news releases from various sources, and, irritatingly, I didn’t get these two until well after a bunch of other articles were posted. So, since they saved me the trouble of having to do it myself, I’ll simply point you elsewhere:

1) Astronomers have found an extrasolar planet with the largest physical diameter yet. In fact, it’s bigger than models say it should be, which is always cool. I wonder if it is interacting magnetically with its parent star, and if that could affect it?

2) Spitzer Space telescope spied four galaxies in a pretty big smash-up. New Scientist has an article on it as well.

3) Oh yeah — the Shuttle is due to launch tomorrow at 6:36 p.m. Eastern time. I’ll be live-covering it on Twitter, as usual.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Cool stuff, NASA

Comments (11)

  1. Wayne

    From the first link:

    “In a very short time – probably less than a billion years – the planet will be engulfed by the expanding host star,” he says.

    Anything less than a billion years is a “very short time”?? That’s a pretty odd perspective, even for a cosmologist.

  2. bearcub

    As you plow through your email, you’ll probably stumble across the space.com link I sent yesterday afternoon about the exoplanet .

    Maybe next time I’ll PM you through BAUT.

    Frank

  3. Brown

    Is it possible that the large apparent size (tied to the perceived steller dimming during transit0 could be due to an orbiting disk of material (or rings) in addition to the planetary body?

  4. Laguna2

    6:36pm Eastern Standard Time?
    Thats 0:36 CET.
    This will be a long night…

  5. Gary Ansorge

    I think it was Harry HArrison who wrote about a giant planet with a very high rotational rate, wherein the surface gravity at the equator was 3 times earth normal but at the poles was 750 Gs. It’s inhabitants were giant centipedes and visiting earthers were only able to move about in motorized space suits at the equator. I hope someday we find evidence of just such a planet, orbiting far enough from its parent star and cool enough to last the billions of years necessary for life to arise. That could be a really cool place to send probes,,,

    Gary 7

  6. Exodust

    From the second link :

    The exoplanet with a very low density… could a high speed of rotation be a reason for the low density? I mean, if the planet is spinning at like 2 hrs per rotation or something like that, can it be that the material is so bulged out at the equator that density decreases?

  7. “…a bunch of other articles were posted. So, since they saved me the trouble of having to do it myself, I’ll simply point you elsewhere:”

    Yes, but I want to know what YOU have to say about it Phil. Not sucking up, just being honest.

  8. SCR

    # Gary Ansorgeon 08 Aug 2007 at 8:39 am
    I think it was Harry HArrison who wrote about a giant planet with a very high rotational rate, wherein the surface gravity at the equator was 3 times earth normal but at the poles was 750 Gs. It’s inhabitants were giant centipedes and visiting earthers were only able to move about in motorized space suits at the equator. I hope someday we find evidence of just such a planet, orbiting far enough from its parent star and cool enough to last the billions of years necessary for life to arise. That could be a really cool place to send probes,,,

    Gary 7

    Cose but not quite.

    It was Hal Clement (pseudony for Harry Stubbs) who wrote that in a hard SF masterpiece called ‘Mission of Gravity.’ (Master SF series edition, Nel paperback, 1976,first published 1955.)

    Great if somewhat dry novel with superb science.

  9. SCR

    # Gary Ansorgeon 08 Aug 2007 at 8:39 am
    I think it was Harry HArrison who wrote about a giant planet with a very high rotational rate, wherein the surface gravity at the equator was 3 times earth normal but at the poles was 750 Gs. It’s inhabitants were giant centipedes and visiting earthers were only able to move about in motorized space suits at the equator. I hope someday we find evidence of just such a planet, orbiting far enough from its parent star and cool enough to last the billions of years necessary for life to arise. That could be a really cool place to send probes,,,

    Gary 7

    Close but not quite.

    It was Hal Clement (pseudony for Harry Stubbs) who wrote that in a hard SF masterpiece called ‘Mission of Gravity.’ (Master SF series edition, Nel paperback, 1976,first published 1955.)

    Great if somewhat dry novel with superb science.

  10. SCR

    Further info. on Hal Clement’s ‘Mission of Gravity’ :

    The planet was named Mesklin and it had methane seas and widely variable gravity. The novel followed, mainly, the aventures of an alien merchant captain caleld Barlennen working with the visiting humans. (To recover a surveillance satellite if memeory serves)

    Harry Stubbs (aka Hal Clement) was a practicing physicist too – hence thevalid and marvellously wellconsideredscience involved – again if memory serves. The book had a great planet and some very nicely alien aliens.

    —–

    ‘Endeavour’ launch on 3hr hold still as I write this… waiting .. waiting … waiting!

  11. SCR

    Typos sorry sadly usual – and even more sadly uncorrectable. (Sigh)

    Double post – er ..sorry not sure _what_ went on with that.. (Sigh)

    —–
    Getting too late /early here in Adelaide.

    Here’s hoping I hear of a successful launch tonmorrow – dunno that I’m avble to keep awake til launch as planned.

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