The Sun Is Coming!

Earth got off relatively easy last week after being hit by the biggest blast of solar radiation since 2005—but we may not be so lucky next time. Last week’s coronal mass ejection, in which a solar flare whipped an arc of magnetic particles toward Earth at 4 million mph, led some airlines to reroute flights away from the poles, where […]

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The Seasons Of Antarctica

Winter in Antarctica, it is dark all of the time. In the Antarctic summer, (between January and March, when there is plenty of daylight—twenty-four hours a day! In September, the Sun rises, and then doesn’t set again until March. Why does Antarctica have six whole months of darkness in the winter and six whole months of lightness in the summer? […]

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Galactic turmoil ahead

The Milky Way and its closest neighbor, the Andromeda galaxy, are on course for “ a head-on collision,” says astronomer Roeland van der Marel of the Space Telescope Science Institute. But no need for precautions because the crash won’t happen for another 4 billion years. Researchers have long known that Andromeda, currently some 2.5 million light-years away, is moving toward […]

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Visitors from outer space

Visitors from outer space

The most common Visitors from outer space… COMETS!! Near misses by comets and asteroids are rare events, but in 2013, predictions were made that earthlings would experience at least three. A menacing, 1,000-foot-wide asteroid named Apophis which passed within 9 million miles of our planet—close by astronomical standards. Dubbed “the doomsday asteroid,” Apophis has an elliptical orbit around the sun […]

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How the moon was made

How the moon was made

People always wonder how the moon was made. The birth of the planets 4.5 billion years ago was extremely violent. They grew to full size by absorbing rival planet embryos in a series of titanic collisions—one of which probably gave Earth its moon (below). The moon’s large size, low density, and other features suggest that it emerged from an explosion […]

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Plate tectonics thanks to plumes?

“Knowing what a chicken looks like and what all the chickens before it looked like doesn’t help us to understand the egg,” says Taras Gerya. The ETH Professor of Geophysics uses this metaphor to address plate tectonics and the early history of the Earth. The Earth’s lithosphere is divided into several plates that are in constant motion, and today’s geologists […]

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Freshwater under the ocean

Vast reserves of freshwater have been discovered beneath the seabed of continental shelves off Australia, China, North America, and South Africa—a potentially valuable resource for coastal cities needing to alleviate water shortages or combat drought. The finding comes from a new analysis of seafloor water studies conducted for oil and gas exploration purposes. The total volume of these untapped reserves […]

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