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10 April 2014 11:44 am ,
Vol. 344 ,
The Pyrenean ibex, an impressive mountain goat that lived in the central Pyrenees in Spain, went extinct in 2000. But a...
Tight budgets are forcing NASA to consider turning off one or more planetary science projects that have completed their...
Ebola is not a stranger to West Africa—an outbreak in the 1990s killed chimpanzees and sickened one researcher. But the...
In an as-yet-unpublished report, an international panel of geoscientists has concluded that a pair of deadly...
Tropical disease experts tried and failed before to eradicate yaws, a rare disfiguring disease of poor countries. Now,...
Since 2002, researchers have reported that agricultural communities in the hot and humid Pacific Coast of Central...
Balkan endemic kidney disease surfaced in the 1950s and for decades defied attempts to finger the cause. It occurred...
- 10 April 2014 11:44 am , Vol. 344 , #6180
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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.