Salt and Stars

10 Feb 2019

At ... ALMA observations have revealed sodium chloride (common salt) surrounding a young star. Salts have of course been found previously - in what are regarded as old and dying stars. Astronomers will now be looking more closely at the chemistry of other stars. How common is salt in the universe? Potassium chloride has also been observed in the same star. They are speculating these salts come from dust grains that collided and spilt their contents. See the preprint edition of the study as www.arxiv.ogr/abs/1901.04489

At ... we learn the Hubble space telescope has revealed oddities in the atmosphere of Uranus and Neptune. They both have seasons - but much longer than on Earth, spanning decades rather than months. On Neptune there is a dark vortex captured by Hubble since 1993. Two other dark storms were captured by Voyage 2 back in 1989 - as it flew past the planet. It is unclear how these storms form but on Jupiter the Great Red Spot swirls in an anti-cyclonic direction and draws up material form lower levels of the atmosphere. On Uranus there is a dominant feature too - a bright storm cloud in this instance, near the northern pole (possibly as a result of its unique rotation).