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There's a dimmer switch inside the sun that causes its brightness to rise and fall on timescales of around 100,000 years - exactly the same period as between ice ages on Earth. So says a physicist who has created a computer model of our star's core. ... (Most scientists believe that the ice ages are the result of subtle changes in Earth's orbit, known as the Milankovitch cycles. One such cycle describes the way Earth's...


 Earth orbit Sun oscillation ice age Milankovitch cycle planet
At its conference this August, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) will make a decision that could see Pluto lose its status as a planet.


 planet Pluto
The US space agency (Nasa) successfully launched its New Horizons mission to Pluto on Thursday. ... to reach the ninth planet by July 2015.


 planet Pluto New Horizons
A mission to an unexplored planet is being launched for the first time since the Voyager craft left for Jupiter and Saturn in the 1970s. ... to reach Pluto in July 2015 (Jupiter slingshot manoeuvre, March 2007, to achieve speeds of about 25km/s) or 2018. ... We've never got a good view of what it looks like, even with the best telescopes - even with Hubble. It just looks like a fuzzy blob. ... For onboard electric power, the probe...


 planet Pluto New Horizons
The New Horizons mission has been launched to Pluto. It is the first time a spacecraft has been sent to an unexplored world since the Voyager 2 craft visited Neptune in the late 1980s. New Horizons' trip to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt Objects will cover uncharted territory in the exploration of the Solar System.


 planet Pluto New Horizons Neptune Kuiper Belt
Astronomers have produced a new colour map of Pluto, the most distant planet in our Solar System, using images from the Hubble Space Telescope. The detailed map shows areas likely to be methane frost and a bright spot perhaps made of frozen carbon monoxide.


 map planet Pluto Hubble Space Telescope Charon
A rare astronomical event has allowed scientists to show that Pluto's moon - known as Charon - has no atmosphere. This could dismiss claims Charon is a planet twinned with Pluto and provide further insight into their formation. Two groups of scientists made observations of the moon as it eclipsed a distant star in the July of 2005.


 Moon planet Pluto Charon atmosphere
The Hubble Space Telescope has spotted two possible new moons around Pluto, the ninth planet in the Solar System. If confirmed, it would bring Pluto's tally of satellites to three; Charon, the only known moon of Pluto, was discovered by astronomers in 1978.


 Moon planet Pluto Charon
The smallest planet in the Solar System has become even smaller, studies by the Messenger spacecraft have shown.


 mercury planet Solar System Sun size diameter cooling
Increasingly, objects are far away and there are objects which are of comparable size to Pluto, so if you think of Pluto as a planet then you should refer to those objects as planets. ... a number of distant objects around the same size of Pluto have been found in recent years, including Quaoar (found in 2002) and Sedna (detected in 2004).


 Solar System planet Pluto