Short answer: Well sort of, but it’s more useful to think of it as being built from the same stuff as comets. Like an Uncle of the comets. Read on for an explanation. Earlier this week my wife mentioned a headline she saw. “Pluto is a giant comet? Whoa!” It was all over the place: … More Is Pluto a mega-comet?
What happens when the central body in a planetary system is replaced with a million-Sun black hole? … More The Black Hole Ultimate Solar System
One fine week in May, well, I needed some peace
I packed up my bags and I headed to Nice… … More The MOJO videos
Mars is a weirdo. (Well, as far as planets go). Why is it so small (just 11% as massive as Earth)? … More Mars’ growth stunted!
Planets are kind of my thing. But black holes are awesome too. I mean, they can just suck you right in… (I will never apologize for my bad jokes!) I want to bring black holes and planets together. In this post, I’ll first introduce black holes. Then we’ll build the Black Hole Solar System. In … More The Black Hole Solar System
Let’s find out what it takes to build a system in which a planet remains in perpetual daylight, except for once every few thousand years…. … More Asimov’s Kalgash: a planet in permanent daytime (for real this time!)
Isaac Asimov‘s sci-fi stories are one reason I wanted to become an astronomer (I talked about this in a recent interview). So I’m a little sad to shoot down a classic…. Nightfall is a classic Asimov story (and later, novel). The residents of a planet called Kalgash live in system of six stars that leaves … More Real-life Sci-Fi world 11: Kalgash, a planet in permanent daytime (from Asimov’s Nightfall)
I once ordered a beer then straight away spilled it all over the bar. There was just a tiny sip left in the glass. Frowny face.
Remember ‘Oumuamua, the weird-shaped rock flying through the Solar System? Just like my sip of beer, it might only be a small piece of what it once was. … More ‘Oumuamua: a shred of its former self
Gas giants are the bullies of planetary systems. They are hundreds of times more massive than small rocky or icy worlds, so when gas giants throw a tantrum, their whole planetary system feels it. Giant planet moons are among the innocent bystanders swept up in the chaos. Giant planets around other stars have different orbits … More Exo-moons: Innocent bystanders during gas giant instabilities
In Rendezvous with Rama (by Arthur C. Clarke), a mysterious object is discovered passing through the Solar System. The object has a strange shape — it’s a giant cylinder. It was discovered by the Spaceguard survey, designed to find objects that might impact Earth (so-called near-Earth objects). Spoiler alert: the cylinder is a spaceship sent … More A cigar from another star