The newly discovered planet orbits a nearby star a lot like our own, though brighter and much younger at just 20 million years old. And the planet is a gas giant, like Jupiter, but hotter and even younger than its star. Because the new planet and its star resemble an earlier version of part of our solar system, a closer look could help us understand how planetary systems like ours form.
Quinn Konopacky, assistant professor of physics, is a member of an international team of astronomers who detected the planet using the Gemini Planet Imager, an instrument that adaptively measures moving starlight, then removes the starlight from view to reveal planets. They report the discovery and describe the planet's atmosphere in a paper published in Science. Learn more.
Chemists have devised a versatile way to attach handles and tags to RNA so that the tiny molecules can be detected and traced within cells or selectively pulled from a complex mixture of molecules. Learn more.
Scientists have searched for signals from interstellar civilizations for the past 30 years. So far, silence. They’ve listened for radio waves and looked for light, but extraterrestrial intelligence could still send messages on a more efficient channel: infrared light. Triton magazine features NIROSETI in the fall issue.
Light becomes trapped as it orbits within tiny granules of hexagonal boron nitride, a material that has increasingly intrigued physicists. Particles of light, called phonon polaritons, disobey standard laws of reflection as they bounce through the granules. Instead, polariton rays propagate along paths at fixed angles with respect to the atomic structure of the crystalline material, which at certain frequencies can lead to interesting resonances. Learn more.
Chemists have designed nanoparticles that release a drug in the presence of a class of proteins that enable cancers to metastasize. A peptide coating around nanospheres of paclitaxel shields the anti-cancer drug as it travels through the circulatory system. Enzymes secreted by cancers slice open the shell. Targeted delivery allowed the scientists to safely give mice 16 times the maximum tolerated dose of the clinical formulation of paclitaxel and halted the growth of cancerous tumors. Learn more.
There may be many fewer galaxies in the farthest reaches of the universe than previous estimates predicted, according to simulations run by physics professor Michael Norman's group working with colleagues at Michigan State University. Using the National Science Foundation’s Blue Waters supercomputer, they determined that the increase in number of faint, distant galaxies was flat rather than exponential, as previous studies had suggested. Learn more.