The Dwarf Planet on Our Doorstep
The series of fortunate astrophysical events that gave us Ceres.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Our Solar System’s Demise
First the oceans boil off. Then things really get serious.
Were It Not for Cosmic Good Fortune, We Wouldn’t Be Here
Why Earth wasn’t swept into the dustbin of space.
We Were Here
How advanced civilizations could leave us a message of their presence.
The Moon Is Underrated
New research hints at what makes Earth’s moon special.
Comets Are More Dangerous Than We Thought
Could a comet, not an asteroid, have killed the dinosaurs?
We’re the Cosmic 1 Percent But Our Solar System Isn’t a Complete Weirdo
About half of all stars seem to have “super-Earth” planets on orbits closer to their stars than Mercury is to the Sun, but we don’t.Illustration by Vadim Sadovski / Shutterstock Is Earth unique? Once a grand philosophical question, it has, over the past two decades, become, with the discovery of thousands of planets around other […]
Forget “Earth-Like”—We’ll First Find Aliens on Eyeball Planets
Artist’s conception of a hot Eyeball planet. The permanent day side is sun-baked and dry. The permanent night side is covered with ice. In between lies a thin habitat: the ring of life.Illustration by Beau.TheConsortium Imagine a habitable planet orbiting a distant star. You’re probably picturing a variation of Earth. Maybe it’s a little cloudier, […]
How ‘Oumuamua Got Shredded
‘Oumuamua may be a piece of a torn-apart comet, gravitationally launched into interstellar space, that roamed the galaxy before dropping on our doorstep.ESO / M. Kornmesser / Wikicommons Our solar system’s first houseguest—at least, the first one we have seen in our midst—is a strange one. Scientists have taken to calling it ‘Oumuamua (pronounced “Oh-MOO-ah-MOO-ah”), […]
I Built a Stable Planetary System with 416 Planets in the Habitable Zone
This system is completely stable—I double-checked with computer simulations. But nature would have a tough time forming this system. If it exists, it could only have been built by a super-advanced civilization.Image by Sean Raymond / planetplanet.net When Frank Drake was a boy, growing up in 1930s Chicago, his parents, observant Baptists, enrolled him in […]