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Enigmatic X-rays are being beamed from Uranus

How fast is the universe expanding? What can strange X-ray patterns tells us about Uranus and other astronomical phenomena? Has all the water that was once on the surface of Mars evaporated or is it trapped underground? Digital Journal takes a look at the top three space stories of the week.

Uranus and X-rays

Scientists from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics have detected, for the first time, X-rays emanating from Uranus. The X-rays were detected using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. The finding could aid astronomers in learning more about this mysterious ice giant planet.

The hunt for Planet X began after Uranus (pictured) was first discovered in 1781 with astrologers ho...

The hunt for Planet X began after Uranus (pictured) was first discovered in 1781 with astrologers hoping it could describe the wobbly orbit of Uranus around the sun
, NASA/AFP/File

The following video explain more:

While some of the X-rays are coming from the reflection of light from the Sun, it is thought that other radiation is related to the rings of Uranus, which are producing X-rays themselves.

As well are offering clues about the formation of Uranus, it is also hoped that the subsequent investigation reveals more about growing black holes and neutron stars, both of which also emit X-rays.

The research appears in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, in a paper titled “A Low Signal Detection of X‐Rays From Uranus.”

Martian oceans

Scientists analysing Mars’s atmosphere and rock record, have determined that an ocean’s worth of water was sequestered in the crust of Mars billions of years ago. In other words, the water appears to be still trapped below the surface. This contradicts other theories about the water on Mars, which suggest that the water was evaporated into space.

An artist's impression shows how Mars may have looked about four billion years ago. The young plan...

An artist’s impression shows how Mars may have looked about four billion years ago. The young planet Mars would have had enough water to cover its entire surface in a liquid layer about 140 metres deep, but it is more likely that the liquid would have pooled to form an ocean occupying almost half of Mars’s northern hemisphere, and in some regions reaching depths greater than 1.6 kilometers.
ESO/M. Kornmesser/N. Risinger (skysurvey.org)

The new theory is based on observations, which indicate a combination of two mechanisms have taken place. The first is with the trapping of water in minerals in the planet’s crust. The second is with some (but not total) water loss to the atmosphere. Such a finding is pivotal to understanding more about the history of the red planet.

The investigation appears in the journal Science, in a paper titled “Long-term drying of Mars by sequestration of ocean-scale volumes of water in the crust.”

Expanding universe

How fast is the universe expanding? The answer may rest with observations made about galaxies. These observations are based on examining surface brightness fluctuations to inform about the Hubble constant. This constant is concerned with the expansion rate of the universe itself.

AI is helping scientists explore the universe

AI is helping scientists explore the universe
Pexels / Pixabay

The latest estimates put the rate of universe expansion at 73.3 kilometers per second per megaparsec. Or, to put it more relatively, for each megaparsec (which equates to 3.3 million light years, or 3 billion trillion kilometers) as measured from Earth, the universe is expanding at 73.3 kilometers per second.

The new measure, which is faster than previous estimates, is based on studies of the surface brightness of 63 giant elliptical galaxies.

The results appear in The Astrophysical Journal, in a paper titled “The Hubble Constant from Infrared Surface Brightness Fluctuation Distances.”

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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