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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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ScienceShot: Oversized Exoplanets Inflate Themselves
25 January 2011 4:50 pm
The 500 and more known exoplanets are plenty weird and wonderful, thanks in large part to many of them orbiting perilously close to their stars. The extreme heating can drive supersonic winds and melt rocky surfaces. But even such blistering temperatures can't account for Jupiterlike exoplanets that swell to diameters far larger than can be explained by any heating from their stars. Now researchers have found signs that inexplicably large exoplanets are generating their own electrical currents that heat their interiors. In a paper posted last week on arXiv.org, researchers found a tendency for known exoplanets to be larger than expected if their stars have driven their outer temperatures to at least 1500K. That's the temperature needed to ionize trace elements like sodium and potassium and make the planet's gases able to conduct an electrical current. High-speed winds can then carry the ionized gas through the planet's magnetic field to generate loops of current extending deep into the interior. Resistance heating there like that in a toaster or electric oven can then heat the whole planet and keep it puffed up.
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