Model: It’s Raining Rocks on Exoplanet


“An exoplanet discovered last February by the COROT space telescope is close enough to its star that its “day-face” is hot enough to melt rock. Theoretical models suggest the planet has a gaseous-rock atmosphere and boiling oceans on its surface.

“According to models by scientists at Washington University in St. Louis, COROT-7b’s atmosphere is made up of the ingredients of rocks and when “a front moves in,” pebbles condense out of the air and rain into lakes of molten lava below.

“The work, by Laura Schaefer, research assistant in the Planetary Chemistry Laboratory, and Bruce Fegley Jr., professor of earth and planetary sciences, appears in the Oct. 1 issue of the Astrophysical Journal.”

Creating a New 3D Map of Space

…from Wired magazine

“A new project to create a 3D map of space so large that scientists can find a 500 million-light-year-size remnant from the early universe inside it began operation last month.

“The Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey opened its eyes to the universe, taking in data from hundreds of galaxies and quasars in the constellation Aquarius, from its perch on the Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico. Eventually, it will image two million galaxies and quasars.”

Map of the Day: U.S. Center of Population, 1790–2000

…from the ESRI Map Book, Volume 24


“Each decade, as part of its tabulation and publication activities following the decennial census, the U.S. Census Bureau calculates the country’s center of population. The center is determined as the place where an imaginary, flat, weightless, and rigid map of the United States would balance perfectly if all residents were of identical weight. For Census 2000, the mean center of population was in Phelps County, Missouri, approximately 2.8 miles east of the rural community of Edgar Springs.

“Historically, the movement of the center of population has reflected the expansion of the country, the settling of the frontier, waves of immigration, and migration west and south. Since 1790, the center of population has moved steadily westward, angling to the southwest in recent decades.

“Courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division.”