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Can planets form around massive, hot stars? Some astronomers think they can’t. According to the evidence, planets around stars exceeding three solar masses should be rare, or maybe even non-existent. But now astronomers have found one.

A team of researchers found a binary star that’s six times the mass of the Sun. And it hosts a planet that’s about ten times more massive than Jupiter.

The binary star is named b Centauri, and it’s about 324 light-years from Earth. The pair of stars are six to 10 times more massive than our Sun, and the planet, named b Centauri b, is about 11 times more massive than Jupiter.

The paper detailing the discovery is titled “A wide-orbit giant planet in the high-mass b Centauri binary system.” It’s published in the journal Nature, and the lead author is Markus Janson, an astronomer at Stockholm University, Sweden.

In this age of exoplanet discovery, astronomers have found a wide variety of solar system architectures. The detail of how planets with different masses form around different stars is an important research area. The only way to understand the planet formation process more thoroughly is to examine the process through the whole range of stellar and planetary masses. The extremes are particularly important.

Astronomers have studied planets that orbit very closely to high-mass stars and found a curiosity: the frequency of giant planets increases with the mass of the stars hosting them. But only up until a point. At about 1.9 stellar masses, the frequency of giant planets drops precipitously. This drop-off implies that giant planets should be rare, or even non-existent, around high-mass stars.

But now astronomers have found one.

“Finding a planet around b Centauri was very exciting since it completely changes the picture about massive stars hosting planets,” explained Janson.

b Centauri is only about 15 million years old and is at least six times more massive than the Sun. It’s the most massive stellar system to host any planets that astronomers have found. Before this discovery, astronomers haven’t found any planets orbiting a star of three solar masses.

Detection methods sensitive to close-in stars aren’t as sensitive to exoplanets on wider orbits, and b Centauri b is a whopping 100 times more distant from its star than Jupiter is from the Sun. Put another way, it’s 560 times greater than the Sun-Earth distance. “The planet-to-star mass ratio of 0.10—0.17% is similar to the Jupiter-Sun ratio, but the separation of the detected planet is ~100 times wider than that of Jupiter,” the authors write in their paper.

This figure from the study shows the planet-to-star mass ratio for the b Centauri system. All of the small circles are known exoplanet to star mass ratios. Planets in our Solar System are shown for comparison. Notice that b Centauri b, shown with a blue diamond, which has an unusually low mass ratio to the central system relative to other detected planets in the wide, directly imaged population. Image Credit: Janson et al 2021.
This figure from the study shows the planet-to-star mass ratio for the b Centauri system. All of the small circles are known exoplanet to star mass ratios. It shows planets in our Solar System for comparison. Notice that b Centauri b, shown with a blue diamond, has an unusually low mass ratio to the central system relative to other detected planets in the more comprehensive, directly imaged population. Image Credit: Janson et al 2021.

Massive young stars like b Centauri are extremely hot. b Centauri is a B-type star and is three times hotter than the Sun. It emits powerful radiation in UV and X-rays. All that energy forces the gas surrounding the star to dissipate, which impedes large planet formation. “B-type stars are generally considered as quite destructive and dangerous environments. It was believed that it should be exceedingly difficult to form large planets around them,” Janson explains.

When the team first spotted b Centauri b, it was just a faint point source. It was one of three that they found. In general terms, a faint point source like this one is either a distant star in chance alignment or a planet. If it’s a planet, other observations will show a common proper motion with its star. Then astronomers can conclude that it’s physically bound to its star. “We therefore scheduled a follow-up observation of b Cen,
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Review: Rocky Talkie Mountain Radio

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Two-Way Radio
Rocky Talkie Mountain Radio

$110 each/$220 per pair

6.1 oz./172.9g (one radio only), 7.9 oz./224g (including carabiners and leash)

rockytalkie.com

Over more than 30 years of climbing and skiing in the backcountry, I’ve had a few close calls, some directly due to the inability of my partner and I to hear or see one another. One of my most trusted partners—a longtime friend who once saved me from a potentially long lead-climbing fall by leaping down a steep hill at the route’s base to reel in many feet of rope—also once took me off belay before I reached the top of a pitch and anchored myself; fortunately, I didn’t fall. After relying on the sketchy low tech of shouting and rope signals for much too long, I’ve found a vastly more reliable, light, and inexpensive solution: the Rocky Talkie Mountain Radio.

On days of ski touring in the backcountry—where you need to know the location of your partners after skiing separately down runs and confirm that all are safe, and you can often be too far apart to hear or see one another and wind can drown out or distort shouts—I’ve found the Rocky Talkie Mountain Radio reliably provides clear communication, eliminating the need for often fruitless and frustrating shouts to one another.

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Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside. Click here to sign up for my FREE email newsletter. Join The Big Outside to get full access to all of my blog’s stories. Click here for my e-books to classic backpacking trips. Click here to learn how I can help you plan your next trip.

The Rocky Talkie Mountain Radio.
” data-image-caption=”The Rocky Talkie Mountain Radio.
” data-medium-file=”https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Rocky-Talkie-Mountain-Radio-closeup-2.jpg?fit=300%2C225&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Rocky-Talkie-Mountain-Radio-closeup-2.jpg?fit=900%2C675&ssl=1″ src=”https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Rocky-Talkie-Mountain-Radio-closeup-2.jpg?resize=900%2C675&ssl=1″ alt=”The Rocky Talkie Mountain Radio.” class=”wp-image-62090″ srcset=”https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Rocky-Talkie-Mountain-Radio-closeup-2.jpg?resize=1024%2C768&ssl=1 1024w, https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Rocky-Talkie-Mountain-Radio-closeup-2.jpg?resize=300%2C225&ssl=1 300w, https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Rocky-Talkie-Mountain-Radio-closeup-2.jpg?resize=768%2C576&ssl=1 768w, https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Rocky-Talkie-Mountain-Radio-closeup-2.jpg?resize=150%2C113&ssl=1 150w, https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Rocky-Talkie-Mountain-Radio-closeup-2.jpg?w=1200&ssl=1 1200w” sizes=”(max-width: 900px) 100vw, 900px” data-recalc-dims=”1″ />The Rocky Talkie Mountain Radio.

I’ve also used the Mountain Radio resort skiing at Northern California’s Palisades-Tahoe and Sugar Bowl resorts with my young-adult son, enabling us to discuss which runs to ski whenever we were too far apart to hear one another, or to locate one another when we took different runs. That’s particularly helpful when skiing unfamiliar resorts. (Radios are less necessary with a group who are all familiar with the resort and can plan where to rendezvous after a run and a phone call can usually clear up any miscommunication.)

The Rocky Talkie Mountain Radio is simple enough for a young child to master—and skiing parents know how easily one can lose a fast, young kid on the slopes. Yes, many resorts have cell service. But a cell phone is usually buried in a pocket where its sound is muffled and you have to remove a glove or mitten to operate it, whereas you can clip a two-way radio to a shoulder strap of a small pack—near your ear—where you need only to reach over and press the talk button to speak to a partner and will
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Starship | 360 Video of Liftoff

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Starship returned to integrated flight testing with its second launch from Starbase in Texas. While it didn’t happen in a lab or on a test stand, it was absolutely a test. What we did with this second flight will provide invaluable data to continue rapidly developing Starship.

On November 18, 2023, Starship successfully lifted off at 7:02 a.m. CT from Starbase in Texas and achieved a number of major milestones, including all 33 Raptor engines on the Super Heavy Booster starting up successfully and, for the first time, completed a full-duration burn during ascent.

This 360-degree view comes from the top of the launch tower at Starbase in Texas, providing a front row seat to watch liftoff of the world’s most powerful launch vehicle ever developed.

Follow us on X.com/SpaceX and go to spacex.com for more on this exciting flight.

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10 Expert Tips for Hiking With Trekking Poles

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By
Michael Lanza

If
you’ve opened this story, you probably already recognize this truth: For
backpackers, dayhikers, climbers, mountain runners, and others, trekking poles
noticeably reduce strain, fatigue, and impact on leg muscles and joints, feet,
back—and really on your entire body. And that’s true no matter how much weight
you’re carrying, whether a daypack, an ultralight backpack, or a woefully heavy
backpack.

But
if you’ve opened this story, you also probably already have a sense of this
often-overlooked truth: How you use poles matters. If you use them correctly,
you’re gaining their benefits on virtually every step of your hike; if not,
they become dead weight. This story provides 10 highly effective tips on using
poles, from basics like adjusting pole length, gripping the strap, and moving uphill
and downhill on trails, to managing steep terrain, fording streams, advanced
tips for aiding balance, and more.

The tips below are based on my experience of many thousands of trail miles and more than three decades of backpacking, dayhiking, climbing, trail running, and taking ultra-hikes and ultra-runs—plus a quarter-century of testing and reviewing gear as a past field editor for Backpacker magazine and for many years running this blog. I believe this story will give you expert tips on hiking with trekking poles that you will not find anywhere else.

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Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside. Click here to sign up for my FREE email newsletter. Join The Big Outside to get full access to all of my blog’s stories. Click here for my e-books to classic backpacking trips. Click here to learn how I can help you plan your next trip.

A backpacker on the Teton Crest Trail in Grand Teton National Park.
” data-image-caption=”Jeff Wilhelm backpacking the Teton Crest Trail n Grand Teton National Park. Click photo for my e-book “The Complete Guide to Backpacking the Teton Crest Trail.”
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