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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: 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.