Scientists have discovered the surviving core of a gas giant orbiting a distant star, offering the first ever glimpse of the interior of these mysterious planets.
The core is about the same size as Neptune, or around four times larger than Earth, although it isn’t clear what happened to the planet’s gaseous atmosphere.
According to researchers from the University of Warwick’s department of physics, the atmosphere could have been stripped away or it may have failed to form early on in the planet’s life.
The planet core was found in a survey of stars by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and offers a unique opportunity to learn about the composition of gas giants.
Planets such as Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune are believed to have a rocky core deep beneath the bulk of their mass which is made up of gases.
Although the new core, named TOI 849 b, is around the same size as Neptune, it is believed to have three times the mass, with the material making it being squashed much more densely.
Dr David Armstrong, lead author on the paper, said: “While this is an unusually massive planet, it’s a long way from the most massive we know.
“But it is the most massive we know for its size, and extremely dense for something the size of Neptune, which tells us this planet has a very unusual history,” he added.
“TOI 849 b is the most massive terrestrial planet – [a planet] that has an earth-like density – discovered.
“We would expect a planet this massive to have accreted large quantities of hydrogen and helium when it formed, growing into something similar to Jupiter. The fact that we don’t see those gases lets us know this is an exposed planetary core.”
Dr Armstrong said this was the first time scientists have discovered an intact exposed core of a gas giant orbiting around a star.
There are two theories as to why the planet’s core has been exposed.
The first is that it was once similar to Jupiter but lost its outer gas, potentially through tidal disruption – when it was ripped apart from orbiting too close to its star – or in a collision with another planet.
Alternatively, it might be a failed gas giant, which never formed an atmosphere – for instance if there was a gap in the disc of dust the planet formed from, or if the disc ran out of material.
Dr Armstrong added: “It’s a first, telling us that planets like this exist and can be found. We have the opportunity to look at the core of a planet in a way that we can’t do in our own solar system.
“There are still big open questions about the nature of Jupiter’s core, for example, so strange and unusual exoplanets like this give us a window into planet formation that we have no other way to explore.
“Although we don’t have any information on its chemical composition yet, we can follow it up with other telescopes.
“Because TOI 849 b is so close to the star, any remaining atmosphere around the planet has to be constantly replenished from the core. So if we can measure that atmosphere then we can get an insight into the composition of the core itself.”
WildSafeBC says managing fruit trees, trash will help bear-proof your home – My Powell River Now
As we pass the midway point of summer, WildSafeBC is sending out a reminder to keep your bear attractants in check.
Krystle Mitchelitis is WildSafeBC’s qathet Regional District Community coordinator.
She says keeping your trash indoors until garbage pickup day one of the most effective ways of keeping black bears off your property.
“In our district for curbside pickup they do ask that garbage is out before 7:30am, however leaving it out the night before can cause wildlife to get into it,” Mitchelitis said. “Otherwise, if you have a lot of garbage, you can be taking it to the transfer station regularly.”
She also suggests that you take organics out of your garbage and compost them instead.
If you have vegetable scraps or leftover fish, for example, she says you can wrap them up and freeze them until garbage day or compost drop-off.
“Just keep those smelly things out of the garbage,” she said.
In June, the BC Conservation Officer service responded to 3,068 calls for black bear conflicts, which is slightly down from the 3,495 from June 2019.
Seventy-eight bears had to be destroyed by COS officers.
Fruit also a major attractant
And while there’s a lot of talk about bears and garbage, WildsafeBC says it’s also important for people to realize how much of an issue fruit trees can be in regards to wildlife, if they are not properly managed.
Once bears get a reward from a fruit tree, they will return to the tree again and again.
Fruit might seem like a natural food source for these bears, but fruit in our backyards leads to habituation of wildlife.
Wildsafe says this is something that is dangerous and cannot be undone.
Simple solutions to bear habituation include:
- picking fruit and allowing it ripen indoors or to pick fruit daily as it ripens. Cleaning up windfall is also very important, as is pruning trees to control growth (making them easier to harvest).
- If you do not want your trees to produce fruit, prune the tree vigorously or spray spring blossoms with a garden hose to knock the blossoms off the tree.
- Even consider replacing your tree with a native, non-fruit or non-nut bearing variety. If you are not harvesting the crop, keep in mind that organics should be composted rather than placed with regular garbage.
Electric fencing is also a simple way to protect your fruit trees from wildlife.
Visit wildsafebc.com/electric-fencing to view electric fencing guidelines and checklists.
You’re asked to report wildlife conflicts to the Conservation Officer Service at 1-877-952-7277.
You can also report wildlife conflict other than bear, cougar, coyote or wolf online at WildSafeBC’s Wildlife Alert Reporting Program (WARP), available here.
This program allows you to see what wildlife has been reported in your neighbourhood and be alerted of new sightings.
qathet Regional District WildSafeBC is supported by the qathet Regional District, British Columbia Conservation Foundation and the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.
Dwarf planet Ceres is an ocean world: study – CTV News
PARIS, FRANCE —
The dwarf planet Ceres — long believed to be a barren space rock — is an ocean world with reservoirs of sea water beneath its surface, the results of a major exploration mission showed Monday.
Ceres is the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and has its own gravity, enabling the NASA Dawn spacecraft to capture high-resolution images of its surface.
Now a team of scientists from the United States and Europe have analysed images relayed from the orbiter, captured around 35 kilometres (22 miles) from the asteroid.
They focused on the 20-million-year-old Occator crater and determined that there is an “extensive reservoir” of brine beneath its surface.
Several studies published Monday in the journals Nature Astronomy, Nature Geoscience and Nature Communications also shed further light on the dwarf planet, which was discovered by Italian polymath Giuseppe Piazzi in 1801.
Using infrared imaging, one team discovered the presence of the compound hydrohalite — a material common in sea ice but which until now had never been observed off of Earth.
Maria Cristina De Sanctis, from Rome’s Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica said hydrohalite was a clear sign Ceres’ used to have sea water.
“We can now say that Ceres is a sort of ocean world, as are some of Saturn’s and Jupiter’s moons,” she told AFP.
The team said the salt deposits looked like they had built up within the last two million years — the blink of an eye in space time.
This suggests that the brine may still be ascending from the planet’s interior, something De Sanctis said could have profound implications in future studies.
“The material found on Ceres is extremely important in terms of astrobiology,” she said.
“We know that these minerals are all essential for the emergence of life.”
Writing in an accompanying comment article, Julie Castillo-Rogez, from the California Institute of Technology’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said the discovery of hydrohalite was a “smoking gun” for ongoing water activity.
“That material is unstable on Ceres’ surface, and hence must have been emplaced very recently,” she said.
In a separate paper, U.S.-based researchers analysed images of the Occator crater and found that its mounds and hills may have formed when water ejected by the impact of a meteor froze on the surface.
The authors said their findings showed that such water freezing processes “extend beyond Earth and Mars, and have been active on Ceres in the geologically recent past.”
N.L. reports new COVID-19 case linked to out-of-province TV series worker – HalifaxToday.ca
ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — A second person who works on the St. John’s-shot TV series “Hudson & Rex” has tested positive for COVID-19, but the show’s producer says the two cases linked to the canine-cop program do not pose a risk to the community.
“The system worked in terms of identifying somebody with a case,” producer Paul Pope said in an interview Monday. “What I would say to Newfoundland, my province where I live: we have not introduced anything into the community. It’s been contained within our production.”
Newfoundland and Labrador’s Health and Community Services Department confirmed Monday the second case involves a cast member of the television series. Authorities said the man’s contacts are being advised to quarantine.
Pope said the cast member was exposed to a woman involved with the show’s production who tested positive for the virus last week after arriving in St. John’s from Toronto. Both people are between the ages of 20 and 39 and are self-isolating. Pope could not say more about the cast member’s role, citing privacy reasons.
Shooting for the series was shut down Sunday but resumed Monday. Pope said he didn’t think the cast member’s illness will disrupt the show’s production schedule. But, he added, the length of that person’s absence will be determined by the regional health authority.
“It’s all in eastern health’s hands now in terms of when that person can come back to work,” he said.
Pope said the woman who arrived from Toronto by plane last Thursday had contact with the cast member and one other person involved with the show. The other individual tested negative for the virus.
The infected woman is not a local resident and was given an exemption to enter the province, which has a strict travel ban aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19. There are now two active cases of COVID-19 in the province, where three people have died from the virus and 263 people have recovered.
Last month, “Hudson & Rex” became one of the first narrative TV series to resume production in Canada since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The Citytv series follows detective Charlie Hudson, played by John Reardon, and his German shepherd partner, Diesel vom Burgimwald.
Pope said there are approximately 200 people working on the show. Out of that group, there are between 10 and 15 people who live outside Newfoundland and stay in St. John’s for the shooting period.
Pope said there are between four and six people who fly in to Newfoundland to help shoot each episode. The show uses a private limousine service to transport them to a hotel where they are tested. They are allowed to mingle with others working on the series after the negative result, and Pope said a second test is done after 48 hours.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 10, 2020.
Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press
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