Just a short post, since I do articles here from time to time to reassure those who worry about collisions with Earth for every new discovery. This new planet X is not even proved to exist yet. But if it is - it orbits way beyond Neptune. It is no more of a threat to us than Neptune was when it was discovered in the nineteenth century. Rather it's fun and exiting, and we could learn new things from it if it exists.

Caltech researchers have found evidence of a giant planet tracing a bizarre, highly elongated orbit in the outer solar system. The object, which the researchers have nicknamed Planet Nine, has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun on average than does Neptune (which orbits the sun at an average distance of 2.8 billion miles). In fact, it would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the sun.

The researchers, Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown, discovered the planet's existence through mathematical modeling and computer simulations but have not yet observed the object directly.

Actually though most of the stories say it is the first flower to bloom in space, and Scott Kelly tweeted it as such, it turns out that there have been several flowers grown in space before, most recently in 2012, but the first such was way back in 1982. It does seem to be the first Zinnia to flower in space.

Here is Scott Kelly's tweet

Science is advancing rapidly. We are eradicating diseases, venturing further into space and discovering a growing zoo of subatomic particles. But cosmology – which is trying to understand the evolution of the entire universe using theories that work well to describe other systems – is struggling to answer many of its most fundamental questions.

Strong magnetic fields discovered have been discovered in a majority of stars. An international group of astronomers led by the University of Sydney has discovered strong magnetic fields are common in stars, not rare as previously thought, using data from NASA's Kepler mission.

The team found that stars only slightly more massive than the Sun have internal magnetic fields up to 10 million times that of the Earth.

It has been a busy year for Solar System exploration – and particularly our galactic neighborhoods small icy bodies. Comets, asteroids, Kuiper Belt Objects and planetary satellites have all been in the news – from stunning images of comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko at the start of the year, to the recent close-up of Saturn’s moon, Enceladus, via Ceres and Pluto.

During winter it can sometimes feel that the whole day passes in the blink of an eye and that evening darkness comes far too quickly. While more daylight would be a lovely thing, the early darkness has one big advantage: the stars. On a clear evening you can look up and see far into space. I’ve spent many winter evenings with my children, on our way home from activities, looking for Orion (and other constellations), following its path through the seasons.

Stars and space are two of the most popular science topics, whatever the age of the child.

Astrophysicists have obtained precise measurements for an object orbiting a black hole five billion light years away - and the innermost region of a disc of matter in orbital motion around a supermassive black hole tucked inside the quasar known as Einstein’s Cross (Q2237-0305).

This constitutes the most precise set of measurements achieved to date for such a small and distant object, and was made possible thanks to years of monitoring as part of the OGLE and GLITP gravitational microlensing projects, which have had their lenses trained on this quasar for 12 and 9 years, respectively. Typically, astronomers can only detect bright objects that emit a lot of light or large objects that block background light.
Thick donut-shaped disks of gas and dust that surround most massive black holes in the universe are 'clumpy' rather than smooth as originally thought, according to a new study.

Until recently, telescopes weren't able to penetrate some of these donuts, also known as tori, which feed and nourish the growing black holes tucked inside.

By Marsha Lewis, Inside Science TV. The moon — it can appear full, shining like a beacon in the night or just a sliver of a nightlight. Still, it’s always there.

Image Credit:

But what if we didn't have a moon?

Here’s the top five things we would miss without it.

1.       Nights would be much, much darker. The next brightest object in the night sky is Venus – but it still wouldn’t be enough to light up the sky – a full moon is nearly two thousand times brighter than Venus is at its brightest.