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24 April 2014 11:45 am ,
Vol. 344 ,
Major climate data sets have underestimated the rate of global warming in the last 15 years owing largely to poor data...
The tsetse fly is best known as the vector for the trypanosome parasites that cause sleeping sickness and a disease in...
The National Institutes of Health is revising its "two strikes" rule, which allowed researchers only one chance to...
By stabilizing the components of retromers, molecular complexes that act like recycling bins in cells, a recently...
Fossil fuels power modern society by generating heat, but much of that heat is wasted. Semiconductor devices called...
Researchers are gaining insights into what made Supertyphoon Haiyan so powerful and devastating through post-storm...
Millions around the world got a first-hand look at what it was like to be in Tacloban while it was pummeled by...
- 24 April 2014 11:45 am , Vol. 344 , #6182
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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.