Second alignment plane of solar system discovered — ScienceDaily

A study of comet motions indicates that the Solar System has a second alignment plane. Analytical investigation of the orbits of long-period comets shows that the aphelia of the comets, the point where they are farthest from the Sun, tend to fall close to either the well-known ecliptic plane where the planets reside or a newly discovered “empty ecliptic.” This has important implications for models of how comets originally formed in the Solar System.

In the Solar System, the planets and most other bodies move in roughly the same orbital plane, known as the ecliptic, but there are exceptions such as comets. Comets, especially long-period comets taking tens-of-thousands of years to complete each orbit, are not confined to the area near the ecliptic; they are seen coming and going in various directions.

Models of Solar System formation suggest that even long-period comets originally formed near the ecliptic and were later

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How Coal-Loving Australia Became the Leader in Rooftop Solar

CAIRNS, Australia — Australia is the world’s second-largest exporter of coal, which plays an outsize role in its economy and politics. But the country has also quietly become a renewable energy powerhouse.

About one in four Australian homes have rooftop solar panels, a larger share than in any other major economy, and the rate of installations far outpaces the global average. The country is well ahead of Germany, Japan and California, which are widely considered leaders in clean energy. In California, which leads U.S. states in the use of solar power, less than 10 percent of utility customers have rooftop solar panels.

Most Australians who have embraced solar do not appear to have done so for altruistic reasons like wanting to fight climate change. Many are responding to incentives offered by state governments in the absence of a coordinated federal approach, a sharp drop in the price of solar panels

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Remnants of an ancient asteroid shed new light on the early solar system — ScienceDaily

Researchers have shaken up a once accepted timeline for cataclysmic events in the early solar system. About 4.5 Ga (giga-anum, or billion years ago), as a large disc of dust and ice collapsed around our newly formed star, planets and smaller celestial bodies were formed. What followed was a chaotic and violent period of collisions and impacts as the familiar eight planets carved out their orbits to resemble the balanced system we observe today. Geological and geochemical records indicate that after about 600-700 million years after formation — but still early in the solar system’s existence — the Earth-Moon system experienced a period of frequent and cataclysmic impacts from asteroids and other bodies. This period is dubbed the late heavy bombardment (LHB) period.

It was once thought that this period had a relatively sudden onset, but a research team at Hiroshima University and The University of Tokyo in Japan have

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Scientists Built the Best Solar Laser Ever

  • New research shows a working solar laser that doesn’t require a curved mirror collector.
  • The result is a flat design like a solar cell that can absorb more, and less direct, sunlight.
  • With proof of concept in hand, scientists say they can fine-tune the design even more.

    Scientists in Japan and Germany have made a breakthrough in the field of solar lasers—and they’ve changed the game completely.

    🤯 You like badass science. So do we. Let’s nerd out over it together.

    For the first time, they say, a solar laser isn’t simply a supervillain-like huge angled mirror. The new design involves a kilometer of silica fiber that’s doped with a neodymium isotope and then kept in a cylindrical container of solution. The entire assembly acts as a solar collector, but doesn’t require the unwieldy size and low efficiency of a curved mirror.

    In Communications Physics, the large international team

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    Parker Solar Probe Makes Closest Ever Approach to the Sun

    NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is set to break a record tomorrow, becoming the closest-ever human-made object to the sun. The probe will break its own previous record, coming within 8.4 million miles of the sun’s surface and traveling at 289,927 miles per hour.

    This will be the probe’s sixth flyby of the sun since it was launched in 2018. As it orbits around the sun, it gets gradually closer and closer with each pass, and over the summer it got an extra boost by using the gravity of Venus to adjust its trajectory. In July this year, the probe came within just 518 miles of the surface of Venus, and the gravitational assist from this maneuver allowed the probe to get 3.25 million miles closer to the sun than its last pass in June.

    This flyby will also be the first time that the probe will pass within 0.1 AU

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    Where to next in the outer solar system? Scientists have big ideas to explore icy moons and more.

    If you had a few billion dollars and some of the most talented space scientists and engineers in the world, where would you go?

    There’s no wrong answer, really. Even if you narrow it down to just the outer solar system — planets, moons, rings and other cosmic rubble — you’ll never get bored. But that abundance of solar system destinations has downsides, of course, since there’s little chance of ever flying all the missions scientists can dream of. But dreaming up those missions anyway is a vital piece of space exploration, and one that scientists do regularly.

    During a recent virtual meeting of the Outer Planets Assessment Group (OPAG), a science advisory group focused on everything past the asteroid belt, scientists walked the audience through three different mission concept studies that were commissioned to inform the Planetary Science Decadal Survey, which will guide NASA programs between 2023 and

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    Can ripples on the sun help predict solar flares? Scientists analyze sunquakes to pinpoint flare energy source, perhaps predict flare severity — ScienceDaily

    Solar flares are violent explosions on the sun that fling out high-energy charged particles, sometimes toward Earth, where they disrupt communications and endanger satellites and astronauts.

    But as scientists discovered in 1996, flares can also create seismic activity — sunquakes — releasing impulsive acoustic waves that penetrate deep into the sun’s interior.

    While the relationship between solar flares and sunquakes is still a mystery, new findings suggest that these “acoustic transients” — and the surface ripples they generate — can tell us a lot about flares and may someday help us forecast their size and severity.

    A team of physicists from the United States, Colombia and Australia has found that part of the acoustic energy released from a flare in 2011 emanated from about 1,000 kilometers beneath the solar surface — the photosphere — and, thus, far beneath the solar flare that triggered the quake.

    The results, published Sept. 21

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    Shining light on heating the solar corona — ScienceDaily

    In a paper published today in Nature Astronomy, researchers report the first ever clear images of nanojets — bright thin lights that travel perpendicular to the magnetic structures in the solar atmosphere, called the corona — in a process that reveals the existence of one of the potential coronal heating candidates: nanoflares.

    In pursuit of understanding why the Sun’s atmosphere is so much hotter than the surface, and to help differentiate between a host of theories about what causes this heating, researchers turn to NASA’s Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) mission. IRIS was finely tuned with a high-resolution imager to zoom in on specific hard-to-see events on the Sun.

    Nanoflares are small explosions on the Sun — but they are difficult to spot. They are very fast and tiny, meaning they are hard to pick out against the bright surface of the Sun. On April 3, 2014, during what’s

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