CNN

2 Earth-size worlds revealed beyond our solar system

Jan 14, 2023, 11:00 AM

A European space telescope blasted off Saturday on a quest to explore the mysterious and invisible ...

This image provided by NASA on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022, shows a large pink, speckled galaxy resembling a wheel with with a small, inner oval, with dusty blue in between on the right, with two smaller spiral galaxies about the same size to the left against a black background captured by the James Webb Space Telescope. (NASA via AP)

(NASA via AP)

(CNN) — There are more than 5,000 known worlds beyond our solar system.

Since the 1990s, astronomers have used ground and space-based telescopes to search for signs of planets beyond our tiny corner of the universe.

Exoplanets are notoriously difficult to directly image because they’re so far away from Earth.

But scientists know the signs, looking for wobbles of stars as orbiting planets use their gravitational pull, or dips in starlight as planets pass in front of their stellar hosts.

It’s highly likely that there are hundreds of billions more exoplanets just waiting to be discovered.

Part of the excitement around the James Webb Space Telescope is its ability to peer inside the atmospheres of potentially habitable planets and discover new worlds. This week, the space observatory certainly delivered.

Other worlds

The Webb telescope confirmed the existence of an exoplanet for the first time since the space observatory launched in December 2021.

The world, known as LHS 475 b, is almost exactly the same size as Earth and located 41 light-years away in the Octans constellation.

Scientists can’t yet determine if the planet has an atmosphere, but the telescope’s sensitive capabilities picked up on a range of molecules. Webb will get another crack this summer at observing the planet to build upon this data.

The exoplanet was just one of Webb’s cosmic discoveries announced this week at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle. What’s more, NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, mission spied a second Earth-size exoplanet in an intriguing planetary system 100 light-years away — and the world just might be potentially habitable.

Force of nature

A year after the powerful eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano, scientists are still learning more surprising aftereffects of the event.

The explosion set off more than 25,500 lightning strikes in just five minutes, according to a new report. The event also triggered nearly 400,000 lightning strikes over six hours and accounted for half of all the lightning in the world during the eruption’s peak.

But even more surprising is that the January 2022 eruption was merely one factor in a year of extremes for lightning across the globe.

A long time ago

Blooming flowers are notoriously ephemeral, but a nearly 40 million-year-old specimen remains trapped in amber and frozen in time.

Researchers have taken another look at the extraordinary amber fossil, which was first documented in 1872. It’s the largest known flower to be fossilized in amber at 1.1 inches (28 millimeters) across.

Scientists were able to extract some of the flower’s pollen and discovered it’s related to a group of modern plants.

Meanwhile, archaeologists uncovered eight prehistoric ostrich eggs near an ancient fire pit in Israel.

Defying gravity

Russian space agency Roscosmos will launch an uncrewed replacement spacecraft to the International Space Station as a return vehicle for three crew members after their Soyuz capsule sustained damage in December.

Cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin and NASA astronaut Frank Rubio launched to the space station in September.

A commission determined that damage to the Soyuz radiator’s pipeline was caused by a micrometeoroid impact, which created a hole with a diameter less than 1 millimeter, according to Roscosmos.

Crew members remain in good health, but their return to Earth — which has not been determined — will be delayed by at least several months.

Meanwhile, Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rocket attempted to launch from the United Kingdom, and California-based start-up ABL Space Systems set out to launch its RS1 rocket from Alaska. Both rockets failed, and investigations are underway to determine what went wrong.

Consequences

The contrails that stream out behind aircraft crisscrossing our skies every day may seem harmless, but these wispy ice clouds are actually bad for the environment.

The condensation trails, which form when ice crystals cluster around small particles emitted by jet engines, trap more heat than carbon dioxide emissions that result from burning fuel. The longevity of the contrails depends on atmospheric conditions.

Researchers believe that slightly shifting the paths of specific flights could help reduce the damage.

Take note

Catch up on these stories before you go:

— An unusually brightening star might have been dust-bombed by a mysterious stellar companion for years.

— Europe’s “bog bodies,” the incredibly well-preserved mummies and skeletons discovered mired in peat and wetlands, reveal some of the brutal realities of prehistoric life.

— Astronomers have spotted the closest pair of supermassive black holes ever observed across multiple wavelengths of light. The cosmic bodies were brought together by colliding galaxies.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

CNN

Afghan relatives offer prayers during a burial ceremony near the graves of victims who lost their l...

Niamh Kennedy and Radina Gigova, CNN

At least 300 people killed by flash floods in Afghanistan

At least 300 people have died in flash flooding that has ravaged northern Afghanistan in recent days, the Word Food Programme said Sunday.

1 month ago

The Apple Store at Towson Town Center Mall in Maryland is pictured. Apple Store workers in Towson, ...

Jordan Valinsky, CNN

Apple Store workers in Maryland vote to authorize strike

Apple Store workers in Towson, Maryland made history by voting late May 11 in favor of authorizing a strike.

1 month ago

Smoke from wildfires blankets the city as a couple has a picnic in Edmonton, Alberta, Saturday, May...

Paradise Afshar and Sara Smart, CNN

Canadians evacuate due to wildfires as air quality deteriorates

Thousands across Canada were urged to evacuate from blazing wildfires on Saturday, and the smoke emanating from them could be another danger.

1 month ago

Salvage crew members work on the deck of the cargo ship Dali on Friday, May 10....

Nicole Grether and Gloria Pazmino, CNN

Crews could use explosives to demolish part of Baltimore’s Key Bridge

Crews are expected to execute a plan to use small explosives to break apart a massive chunk of the Baltimore bridge that collapsed.

1 month ago

The sun is rising with a flare over Korla, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China, on May 10....

Brian Fung, CNN

Why tonight’s massive solar storm could disrupt communications and GPS systems

An unusual amount of solar activity due to a solar storm this week could disrupt some of the most important technologies society relies on.

1 month ago

A customer wipes sweat from their face as they work out on a treadmill inside a Planet Fitness Inc....

Nathaniel Meyersohn, CNN

Planet Fitness will raise its $10 membership plan for the first time in 26 years

Planet Fitness will raise the price of its “classic” membership from $10 a month to $15 for new members beginning in the summer.

1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Your Bear Lake fishing guide

Bear Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities. By preparing ahead of time, you might go home with a big catch!

A group of people cut a purple ribbon...

Comcast

Comcast announces major fiber network expansion in Utah

Comcast's commitment to delivering extensive coverage signifies a monumental leap toward a digitally empowered future for Utahns.

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.

...

Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

2 Earth-size worlds revealed beyond our solar system