Systems of super-Earths may form as long resonant chains, most of which go unstable. … More Super-Earths: breaking the (resonant) chains!
Wake up now people, I’ve got some big news! You won’t want to miss this. You don’t want to snooze. We just found some planets while we were stargazing Gather ’round, listen up. These ones are amazing! And it’s not just one new planet. There are seven! All orbiting one star up there in the … More Ode to 7 orbs
Trojan planets are the best! I am a big fan. I love the idea of two planets sharing the same orbit around a star. To me, it’s where physics meets magic. (Remember, we’re talking planets not condoms! See here for a little refresher, and here for another article about Trojans). As a planet orbits a … More The Ultimate Trojan 2-star planetary system
This planet and star, now, you really should know ‘em.
And that’s why I’m bothering writing this poem. … More Is our closest neighbor an Eyeball planet? A Proxima poem
There is only one Superman. One Wonder Woman, one Captain America, one Ironman. All told, a few dozen superheroes. And billions of superhero fans. What about our Solar System? Are we one-in-a-million like Batman? Or a dime-a-dozen like Batman’s fans? How unique, how special is our Solar System? For the first time in human history, … More Exactly how unusual is our Solar System?
What happens when good planetary systems go bad…. … More The biggest tragedy in the history of the Universe
Life is caught in a chicken-and-egg situation. For life to exist on a planet, the planet must of course have the right conditions for life. The planet must be habitable. But a planet’s habitability depends in large part on whether it already has life. It’s a lot easier for a planet with life to be habitable. So a planet needs life to be able to host life…. … More No livable planets without life
Carl Sagan famously called Earth the “pale blue dot”. Viewed from a large distance, that is what our complex, vibrant, living planet looks like. In the search for life around other stars, we should be looking for other pale blue dots, right? Maybe not. There is some reason to think that not all habitable planets … More The colors of other worlds
Welcome to Real-life Sci-fi worlds. I use science to explore life-bearing worlds that are the settings for science fiction stories. This post is a pared-down summary of an article I wrote for Aeon in April 2015 — see the original article here. The Sun is pretty key for us here on Earth. The number one … More Real-life Sci-Fi world 8: the free-floating Earth
There are at least three aspects of the Solar System that are weird or at least unusual: No hot super-Earths. About half of stars contain a planet larger than Earth interior to Venus’ orbit. We don’t have one. That puts us in the minority. Jupiter. Only about 15% of Sun-lilke stars appear to have gas … More Is the Solar System special?