This ultrahot Jupiter-like exoplanet has a glowing stratosphere

For the first time, a glowing giant exoplanet has been found surrounded by an atmosphere similar to Earth’s.

The planet WASP-121b, which lies 270 light years away from Earth, is the first exoplanet found with a stratosphere – an upper layer in its atmosphere.

WASP-121b is what is known as a ‘hot Jupiter’ – a gas giant like Jupiter but much hotter, with an orbit that takes it feverishly close to its star.

Read more on WIRED

What is the meaning of life? WIRED (tries to) explain

Whether you are on your way to work on a rainy morning, lying awake at night unable to sleep, or just gazing up at the stars, you might sometimes find yourself contemplating the meaning of life. It is one of humanity’s biggest questions, and there is no simple answer, but WIRED has spoken to a philosopher and a physicist to try and get closer to one…

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Tides on exoplanets could drive alien biological clocks

Worlds with a permanent day and night side aren’t obvious places to look in the search for extraterrestrial life. Apart from having extremes of temperature, such planets would make it hard for a biological clock to get going.

But now it seems that if these worlds also have oceans, then tides could drive a biological clock just like a rising and setting sun would, according to a simulation by Avi Loeb and Manasvi Lingam at Harvard University.

We used to think that not having a day-night cycle would make it harder for life to emerge, because of the lack of a circadian clock. On Earth, these built-in timekeepers play an important role in several biological contexts, including reproduction.

Read more on New Scientist

A pair of ‘dancing’ black holes has been spotted circling each other for the first time

It might seem an unfathomably large distance, but in the scale of the Universe, 24 light years is a mere stone’s throw. Now, two supermassive black holes have been spotted circling each other at this distance, marking a closer pairing than ever seen before.

black hole binary system consists of two black holes orbiting each other, driven by their respective gravitational pulls.

For the first time, astronomers have been able to make out both objects in this kind of system, using a collection of telescopes called the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA).

Read more on WIRED

This gecko-inspired robot could finally help us clean up space

The vacuum of space around Earth is not as desolate as you might think. Around 500,000 pieces of human-made debris orbit our planet every second, reaching speeds of up to 17,500 miles per hour.

This debris is a threat to satellites, space vehicles like the ISS and astronauts – and the problem is only likely to worsen as we continue to explore our galactic neighbourhood. Yet clearing this space junk is one the most difficult challenges facing astrophysicists.

Now, with inspiration from an incredible lizard, a robot has been designed to tackle this very problem.

Read more on WIRED

You can now send your loved one’s ashes into orbit on a SpaceX rocket

A company hoping to send people’s ashes into space has announced its next mission will be on board a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Elysium Space is a San Francisco based startup self-proclaimed as a mix of funeral and space experts.

In 2015, the company attempted to send a cubesat into orbit on the maiden flight of the US Air Force Super Strypi rocket, but the launch failed. The company has announced today it hopes to use its partnership with SpaceX to send its first successful “memorial mission” on a SpaceX Falcon 9.

Read more on WIRED

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