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Nearby Venus-like exoplanet might have oxygen atmosphere

20 August 2016 Astronomy Now

The distant planet GJ 1132b intrigued astronomers when it was discovered last year. Located just 39 light-years from Earth and orbiting its red dwarf star every 1.6 days, new research shows that despite being baked to a temperature of around 232 °C, GJ 1132b might possess a thin, oxygen atmosphere — but no life due to its extreme heat.

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How comets break up and make up

2 June 2016 Astronomy Now

For some comets, breaking up is not that hard to do. A new study indicates that the bodies of some periodic comets — objects that orbit the Sun in less than 200 years — may regularly split in two, then reunite down the road. This may be a repeating process fundamental to comet evolution.

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Last vestiges of surface water on Mars indicated by salt flat

9 August 2015 Astronomy Now

Mars turned cold and dry long ago, but scientists have discovered evidence of an ancient lake that likely represents some of the last potentially habitable surface water ever to exist on the Red Planet. University of Colorado Boulder researchers estimate that the lake was only about 8 percent as salty as the Earth’s oceans and therefore may have been hospitable to microbial life.