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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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ScienceShot: Breathless Orb
21 November 2012 1:25 pm
Data gathered when the dwarf planet Makemake passed in front of a distant star last year are shedding new light on the icy orb's size, shape, and atmosphere—or, more precisely, its lack of one. Named for a god of the Rapa Nui culture of Easter Island, Makemake (artist's concept, above) orbits in the frigid realm far beyond Pluto and was about 7.7 billion kilometers from Earth when the brief eclipse occurred. As the dwarf planet's shadow passed across eight telescopes at five sites in central South America, it blocked light for intervals ranging from 59 seconds to 66 seconds, suggesting that Makemake is a 1500-by-1430-km ellipsoid, researchers report online today in Nature. Because the amount of light reaching the telescopes dropped abruptly at the beginning of the eclipse, rather than gradually, and rose sharply at the end of the event, the team suggests that Makemake has no global atmosphere—or, at best, a wisp of methane atmosphere with a surface pressure no more than 12-billionths that of Earth.
See more ScienceShots.