The end of the Solar System

Earth will lose its oceans. Chaos may destabilize the rocky planets. The Sun will go red giant and swallow the inner planets. The outer planets’ orbits will widen as the Sun becomes a white dwarf. Passing stars will destabilize the planets’ orbits and, in about 100 billion years, finally strip away the last planet. … More The end of the Solar System

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From planetesimals to planetary “embryos”

This is chapter 3 in the Solar System’s story. We’re chugging along, growing bigger and bigger things… Planetesimal accretion After mountain-sized (~100 km-scale) planetesimals form from concentrations of drifting pebbles, they continue to grow in two ways. The simplest growth route for planetesimals is simply to crash into other planetesimals; this is called planetesimal accretion. … More From planetesimals to planetary “embryos”

Giraffes and planets

Giraffes are covered in patches.  The patches are brown and the space in between the patches is white.  Everyone knows this. Here is something you probably didn’t know: you can see those patches in infrared light.  In simple terms, infrared light measures heat (at least at the temperatures we are used to in everyday life).  … More Giraffes and planets