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12 December 2013 1:00 pm ,
Vol. 342 ,
In an ambitious project to study 1000 years of sickness and health, researchers are excavating the graveyard of the now...
Stefan Behnisch has won awards for designing science labs and other buildings that are smart, sustainable, and...
The iconic 125-year-old Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton near San Jose, California, is facing the threat of closure...
Recent results from the Curiosity Mars rover have helped scientists formulate a plan for the next phase of its mission...
A new, remarkably powerful drug that cripples the hepatitis C virus (HCV) came to market last week, but it sells for $...
In pretoothbrush populations, gumlines would often be marred by a thick, visible crust of calcium phosphate, food...
Evolutionary biologists have long studied how the Mexican tetra, a drab fish that lives in rivers and creeks but has...
Victorian astronomers spent countless hours laboriously charting the positions of stars in the sky. Such sky mapping,...
- 12 December 2013 1:00 pm , Vol. 342 , #6164
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ScienceShot: Some Young Planets May Be Mirages
10 July 2013 1:00 pm
Planets emit no light of their own, so observers hunting for worlds orbiting other stars usually detect them indirectly. Now, one such technique has come under fire. The gravity of a planet circling a star in a dusty disk can carve gaps in the disk. But as researchers report online today in Nature, if the disk harbors as much gas as dust, the gas can cause the dust to clump into rings with sharp edges—even in the absence of planets. The best-known example, the scientists say, may be Fomalhaut, a bright star located just 25 light-years from Earth. Its dusty disk (red in the image; the white dot is the star) has a ring suggestive of a planet, which observers later claimed to see directly. However, that discovery has proven controversial, and the researchers say that if Fomalhaut's disk has gas—no one has yet seen any—then the star could have no planets at all.