Science News June 27th

Hope for exoplanets with atmospheres may be around a red dwarf.

Nature recently published a news article around GJ 887, a red dwarf star that has 2 Earth-sized planets. This isn’t any star though, it is the brightest red dwarf seen from Earth and isn’t very active, meaning that it is less likely to have stripped the atmospheres from the planets. The bonus: it’s only 10.7 lightyears from Earth. The downside: these planets are way too close to be able to host water, meaning life how we know it will not exist on these planets.

Astronomers have previously been able to infer atmospheric contents of planets by observing how absorption spectrum shifted while the planet was in front of the star versus behind the star, called the transit spectroscopy method. Though this has limits, and is more efficient with larger planet radius to star radius.

Missing detail of sun’s nuclear fusion found!

Neutrinos that were released by the sun and captured have helped confirm that the sun gets it’s energy from a long chain of reactions consisting of carbon and nitrogen, dubbed the CNO cycle, something that is common in second (or third, etc) generation stars. It’s when 4 protons (H+) get fused to create a Helium atom, where 2 neutrinos are produced. The production of energy from carbon and nitrogen. Our sun produces very little energy via the CNO cycle, however larger, thus newer stars, are thought to have most of their energy produced using the CNO cycle.

The findings of the study haven’t been peer reviewed yet, but it seems as though this may have proven how stars process energy.

Understanding Coral Bleaching

Coral has been a concern for over a decade. Changes in the ocean have seen large sections of coral reefs no longer able to sustain life. Coral bleaching occurs when the coral forces the algae that lives in it out. The algae not only helps provide the coral with energy, but it also helps provide the color of the coral, which is why coral turns white when the algae is no longer present. Hu and the other author’s of the paper have tested the genomics of the Xenia coral, which occurs from the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean. They used RNA sequencing to help determine what genes were responsible for releasing the algae that lived in the coral. While further studies need to be conducted to prove the accuracy of the study, there is hope in not only understanding why coral bleaching happens, but hopefully a way to either prevent it, or reverse it.

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Next week will be 3 more stories!

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