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Solar System

Things We Saw Today: Denny’s Serves Up a Bit of Relief From Your Everyday Existential Dread

Thanks, Denny's. You're killing us.

Denny's, the perennial late-night hangout for the underaged, the overaged, and everyone in between (so literally everybody I guess), continues to impress with their strong social media game.

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In Super Rude Move, Jupiter May Have Kicked Another Gas Giant Planet Out of Our Solar System

Eviction via space bees.

The possibility that our Solar System was once home to five gas giant planets, instead of four, was originally proposed back in 2011.

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There’s a Literal ‘Death Star’ Vaporizing Planets Out There

Now witness the power of this fully armed and operational white dwarf.

While we're still a long ways off from the creation of technology that would be capable of destroying entire planetary bodies or systems, it turns out the universe has its very own version of a Death Star. The doomed planet, which is reported to be about the size of Texas, is orbiting a tiny white dwarf star and appears to be disintegrating in the process.

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Relax and Let This 45 Minute Video of the Solar System Show You Just How Slow the Speed of Light Is

It's not how big the solar system is, it's how you use it.

Alphonse Swinehart's video Riding Light doesn't show us what it would look like if we moved away from the sun at the speed of light. Because once you get to that speed things get... well. Weird. But it does give you a sense of just how BIG our solar system is, so big that it can't even be dwarfed by the fastest thing in the universe. This video is forty five minutes long, and only manages to get a few light minutes past Jupiter.

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Here’s What Space Would Be Like If the Moon Were Only 1 Pixel Wide

You may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space!

As Douglas Adams once famously noted, space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is. Graphic artist Josh Worth didn't think you all were quite getting it, so he decided to shrink the solar system down to "tediously accurate scale" for you.

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You Have To Play With This Interactive Map Of The Galaxy

Because you probably didn't feel small or insignificant enough today.

Thanks to the amazing powers of the internet (and super-creative developers), you can now travel through interstellar space without any fear of ending up like Sandra Bullock in Gravity. Click over to the 100,000 Stars interactive map of the galaxy, and fly through space from the safety of your own bedroom!

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SETI Researcher Discovers New 14th Moon of Neptune

The tiny satellite -- just 12 miles across -- is practically invisible, and was even missed by the Voyager probe.

As we discover more and more amazing features of space -- like mind-bogglingly massive baby stars and exoplanets that could one day be a new cradle for humanity -- it's worth remembering that we still have plenty of things to learn about our own little corner of the cosmos. The face of our solar system got a new wrinkle this week when NASA announced the discovery of a new moon in orbit around Neptune. The tiny satellite -- just 12 miles across --  is the fourteenth to be found orbiting the icy outer planet.

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Voyager 1 Reaches Edge of Our “Solar Bubble”

It's not quite out of the solar system yet, but at 11 billion miles from the Sun it's certainly getting there.

The Voyager 1 spacecraft was in the news a few months ago when it was falsely reported that it had left the solar system. It still hasn't left the Sun's magnetic field, but NASA says it is at the final barrier of the heliosphere. It could still be months or years before Voyager 1 crosses that barrier, but when it does it will be the first human-made craft to enter interstellar space.

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Twitter Celebrates Earth Day By Being Rude To All Other Planets

The original intent behind Earth Day was to celebrate the planet we live on and remind us to be be good stewards of it. Unfortunately, since we've continued to more throughly destroy that planet every year since the first Earth Day in 1970, we now need a new thing to celebrate on Earth Day. May we suggest Weird Planetary Jingoism? It turns out, Twitter was way ahead of us on this idea, so here are some of the morning's best tweets ragging on other planets.

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NASA Says Everyone Needs to Chill, Voyager Has Not Left The Solar System

The Internet's been blowing up over the news that the Voyager 1 spacecraft was the first man-made object to leave our solar system, except that it's not true. NASA and the JPL have announced that, though they're aware of the paper that everyone's talking about, they're not buying it. The official Voyager team says that although it's on the outer edges, Voyager 1 hasn't yet broken out into interstellar space. So calm down. It hasn't happened yet -- but it will eventually.

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Protoplanet Vesta Is Always Reapplying Its Celestial Makeup

Many of us will be donning a fresh layer of  makeup and fake blood for this evening's many Halloween parties, but we're not the only ones in the solar system doing so. Vesta, which is either a giant asteroid or the beginnings of a planet that never quite made good on its potential, depending on who you ask, is continually updating its appearance. New data from NASA's Dawn mission shows that Vesta isn't affected by certain forms of cosmic weathering, and, in a way, manages to stay forever young, complicating efforts to gather information about the asteroid's history.

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Pluto Strikes Back: Moons, Possible Rings of Former Planet Could Damage NASA Probe

It's been more than six years since Pluto was demoted from its once vaunted status as the ninth planet in our solar system to one of more than 40 dwarf planets. While it is, yes, scientifically accurate, the decision has never set well with plenty of folks, yours truly included. The former ninth planet didn't have a chance to defend itself from NASA's slings and arrows during the review process, but it might get a chance at a little vengeance in a couple of years, watching its moons -- and even the rings it might have -- bang around NASA's New Horizons Probe on its way out of the solar system.

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Water On Moon’s Surface Created By Solar Winds, Could Suggest Water Present On Asteroids

Researchers from the University of Tennessee have found proof for the theory that water present on the surface of the Moon is the product of solar winds. This work not only shows that other teams have been on the right track, but suggests that large, planet like bodies such as asteroids could also house water created by the same process, in which solar winds carry charged hydrogen particles millions of miles to bond with oxygen particles, producing water molecules in unexpected places.

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The Sweden Solar System

At first, I thought this was yet another Wikipedia defacement and some kind of Swedenophile had changed around the page on Sweden to make it the center of celestial neighborhood. Thankfully I was wrong, and what you're looking at is the world's largest scale model of the solar system. Starting with the sun, as represented by Ericson Globe building in Stockholm, the 1:20 million scale model spans the entire length of the country.

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Imagine Jupiter Filling the Entire Sky [Video]

After being inspired by the recent lunar eclipse, Brad Goodspeed wondered what the sky would look like if the planets in our universe were as close to Earth as the moon is and revolved around us. And it would probably amaze us while, at the same time, scaring the crap out of us. Imagine if he'd included all 63 of Jupiter's moons? Ouch. (Click through to watch in HD.) (BradBlogSpeed via Neatorama)

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How Would Alien Astronomers See Our Solar System? [Video]

According to a study recently published in The Astronomical Journal, if aliens were trying to detect planets in our solar system, the key planet just could be Neptune, thanks to its interactions with a distant region of dust and frozen volatiles called the Kuiper Belt. From their release:

“The planets may be too dim to detect directly, but aliens studying the solar system could easily determine the presence of Neptune - its gravity carves a little gap in the dust,” said Marc Kuchner, lead author of the study. ... Kuiper Belt objects occasionally crash into each other, and this relentless bump-and-grind produces a flurry of icy grains. But tracking how this dust travels through the solar system isn’t easy because small particles are subject to a variety of forces in addition to the gravitational pull of the Sun and planets. The particles also run into each other, and these collisions can destroy the fragile grains. “People felt that the collision calculation couldn’t be done because there are just too many of these tiny grains too keep track of. We found a way to do it, and that has opened up a whole new landscape,” said Kuchner.
That "new landscape" consists of using similar methods to find planets in other solar systems. Of course, aliens might be able to detect our solar system using tricks of astrophysics that we haven't yet dreamt of, but this seems like it could be a useful field of inquiry for earthly astronomers. (h/t Phenomica | Journal article)

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Asteroid Discovery From 1980 – 2010 [Time-Lapse]

As in this time lapse of nuclear detonations worldwide, this video of asteroid discovery since 1980 starts off slow, but builds up serious momentum by the '90s, corresponding with the rise of automated sky-scanning systems.

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Dr. Dre Wants to Make an Instrumental Album About the Solar System

In a recent interview with Vibe, legendary hip-hop producer and rapper Dr. Dre sent us into a collective swoon when he let it drop that "for a long time," he's wanted to make an instrumental album about Earth's solar system called The Planets. Each track would consist of Dre's interpretations of the planets in the solar system. And he'd need surround sound to convey the majesty of Saturn.

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