Earth is the only home we've ever known, and it's treated us well so far. But whether it’s climate change, an apocalyptic asteroid, or some horrifying disaster we don’t even know about yet, the Earth won't live forever.
The inner planets, Mercury and Venus, orbit closest to the Sun, making them literally an Inferno of heat. NASA and other space agencies have attempted to learn more about these rocky planets. Follow the plucky probes that attempted to decipher the secrets of the Solar System's inner circles of hell.
Discoveries of new planets have revealed countless worlds much stranger than Earth. Some of these strange worlds don't have stars; others are made out of diamonds. Will we ever find a planet like Earth, or are these distant worlds stranger than fiction?
Suppose you placed a camera at a fixed position, took a picture of the sky at the same time every day for an entire year, and overlaid all of the photos on top of each other. What would the sun look like in that combined image? A stationary dot? A circular path? Neither. Oddly enough, it makes a ‘figure 8’ pattern, known as the Sun’s analemma.
NASA may have just gotten one step closer to the answering the question: are we alone? The Spitzer Telescope has made a groundbreaking discovery of exoplanets that could be similar to our own. And as Kepler also continues its search, our understanding of the universe continues to be redefined.
Today Phil follows up last week’s look at the death of low mass stars with what comes next: a white dwarf. White dwarfs are incredibly hot and dense objects roughly the size of Earth. They also can form planetary nebulae: huge, intricately detailed objects created when the wind blown from the dying stars is lit up by the central white dwarf. They only last a few millennia. The Sun probably won’t form one, but higher mass stars do.