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Kepler-223 star system has four mini-Neptunes in synchronised orbits

12 May 2016 Astronomy Now

A four-planet system orbiting the star Kepler-223 in the constellation Cygnus is actually a rarity: Its planets, all miniature Neptunes nestled close to the star, are orbiting in a unique resonance that has been locked in for billions of years. For every three orbits of the outermost planet, the second orbits four times, the third six times and the innermost eight times.

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Cosmochemists find evidence for rare element in early solar system

6 March 2016 Astronomy Now

University of Chicago scientists have discovered evidence in a meteorite that a rare element, curium, was present during the formation of the solar system. This finding ends a 35-year-old debate on the possible presence of curium in the early solar system, and plays a crucial role in reassessing models of stellar evolution and synthesis of elements in stars.

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A blue, Neptune-sized exoplanet around a red dwarf star

27 November 2015 Astronomy Now

A team of astronomers has used the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope (LCOGT) network to detect light scattered by tiny particles through the atmosphere of a Neptune-sized transiting exoplanet. This suggests a blue sky on this world, known as GJ 3470b, which is only 100 light-years away from us.

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Construction to begin on world’s largest optical telescope

3 June 2015 Astronomy Now

Collaborators secure more than $500 million for the historic $1 billion project to build the Giant Magellan Telescope — a seven-mirror colossus gathering more than six times the amount of light of the current largest optical telescopes into images up to 10 times sharper than those of the Hubble Space Telescope.