Pluto is about forty times the distance from the Sun as Earth. But the Solar System is over 50000 times that length across, meaning it could be hiding some huge secrets. That's now looking like a small but real possibility.
Last week it came to our attention that the phrase "blast off" was coined—not in a purely scientific context, but a science fictional one—by E. E. Smith, an early science fiction author often referred to as "the father of space opera." The term appeared in Smith's 1937 story Galactic Patrol, when one character…
This solar system just doesn't work. According to a new computer simulation, the planets could never have come together in their current configuration. The only explanation is that we once had a fifth gas giant...and it's still out there somewhere.
All planets are vast clumps of dust and gas packed together by gravity. If there's lots of material, a gas giant is the result. If there isn't much material, you get a rocky planet. At least, that's what we thought.