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September 30, 2011

new finding relates to Black Holes

By using Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers found that supermassive black holes growing in small galaxies. According to the article, it seems that all massive galaxies host a central supermassive black hole. However, in the local universe, active black holes are not common in small "dwarf" galaxies. The galaxies studied by the scientists are about 10 billion light-year away. And just like what we learned in this course, when we look at something that is 10 billion light year away, it is actually the image 10 billion years ago and this means that the scientists are looking at "the teenage years of the universe" said by author Trump.
This finding arise a new big puzzle which is what happened to these small dwarf galaxies? According to Trump, there are two possibilities: they grow to massive galaxies or they remain small. Scientist Faber said that if these small dwarf galaxies remain small, then "there must be a large population of small black holes in dwarf galaxies that no one has noticed before."
As the technology is getting more and more advanced, we are able to discovery the vast universe in a deep way. I really hope to know more about the every single detail of this huge universe.
For pictures and more information on the article: http://www.astronomy.com/News-Observing/News/2011/09/Small%20distant%20galaxies%20host%20supermassive%20black%20holes.aspx

Posted by zhengxi at 11:58 PM | Comments (1)

Hollows found on Mercury's Surface

Data returned from NASA's messenger satellite orbiting Mercury shows that the planet closest to the sun in our has many irregular depressions in its surface. The depressions "seem to form in bright deposits that have been excavated where meteorites have impacted the surface," according to BBC. The scientists still don't know the cause of the depressions, but they have noted that similar depressions are found on Mars, where they are most likely the consequence of evaporating carbon dioxide ice. Since there is no carbon dioxide ice on Mercury, it must be some other kind of material. Scientists believe that there might be some component in Mercury rocks that become unstable when exposed to the surface. Because of this some argue that Mercury was bigger in the past but the outer layers evaporated away because of the intense glare of the sun.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-15113388

Posted by ghanafin at 10:18 PM | Comments (0)

Good news everyone!

Now you are exorbitantly less likely to be killed by an asteroid without your knowledge! With that shocker out of the way lets explain why.
The folks at NASA have with their "WISE explorer" have concluded that there are far fewer near earth asteroids than previously thought. Near earth asteroids are of course asteroids with flight paths that put them "near" earth and its orbit. Fortunately it seems that there are 19,500 mid sized and 981 large sized asteroids that qualify. A sharp step down from the previously estimated 35,000 and 1,000 respective objects. Of course because it only takes one to make a B movie apocalypse the folks at NASA are hard at work tracking these celestial doom machines. NASA happily reports that they currently track 911 out of the estimated 981 Large asteroids and a glamorous 5,200 mid sized asteroids. So there you have it. Remember to keep rough chances of being hit in perspective and carry on.
The article can be read in full at
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/WISE/news/wise20110929.html

Posted by larken at 09:41 PM | Comments (2)

Less Asteroids Found than Previously Thought?

With the help of NASA's telescope, the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer(WISE), they have found that there are fewer near-Earth mid-sized asteroids. With this discovery, NASA met a goal with congress from 1998 by finding approximately 90 percent of large near-Earth asteroids. Previously, astronomers thought that there were about 35,000 of these asteroids. However, this recent discovery has shown that there are only about 19,500. This discovery is significant because it shows that there is a lower risk for dangerous asteroids striking the Earth. This survey project, known as NEOWISE, has been the most accurate observation of asteroids near Earth because WISE uses infrared detectors to see both light and dark objects. In the future, NASA hopes to continue to track the movement of these asteroids and to find even more.

I find it very interesting that every day there is a new discovery in astronomy and that our technology is advancing. The discovery that there are fewer near-Earth asteroids is significant because it lowers the potential risk of large asteroids striking the Earth.

To Read the full article, visit http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/WISE/news/wise20110929.html

To learn more about the mission of WISE, visit http://www.nasa.gov/wise

Posted by mrkapila at 07:59 PM | Comments (0)

Scientists Find New Information on Black Holes

The Hubble Space Telescope has found new information regarding turbulent black holes. Scientists have found large sections of gas moving away from the black hole and a corona of hot gas hovering around the perimeter of the black hole, which seem to be falling into the black hole. The galaxy Markarian 509, or otherwise know as Mrk 509, is where the black hole is located. Scientists were able to come to this conclusion, due to the advances in technology. Although they were able to capture footage of the hole in 2007, it did not give any profound evidence as it was just an image projection. It was not until recently were they able to use multiple cameras to capture different wavelengths running from visible rays to gamma. The hole itself is about 300 million times the mass of the sun and it will only grow bigger due to its tendency to suck in more and more matter.

It's always interesting to garner more information on black holes, as it provides us insight on something that is completely unknown to us.

For pictures and more information on the article: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hubble/science/turbulent-black-hole.html

The full research done by the scientists can be located here: http://www.sron.nl/

Posted by duymo at 10:45 AM | Comments (3)

September 29, 2011

MAVEN Primary Structure Completed, Launching in October 2013

The primary structure of MAVEN (Mar's Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) has been completed at Lockheed Martin near Denver, Colorado. This is the first mission that is devoted to studying the upper atmosphere of Mars. Its purposes include determining the role that loss of atmospheric gas to space played in the change of Martian climate over time as well as determining the amount of atmosphere lost overtime. The structure is built out of composite panels comprised of aluminum honeycomb with graphite composite face sheets attached by metal fittings on both sides, and weighs only about 275 pounds. Although there is still a long way to go, this is a big step and a great beginning. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, CU-LASP, Lockheed Martin, UC-Berkley, NASA Jet Propulsion Lab, Deep Space Network, and Electra Telecommunications will all be contributing in terms of building instruments, provide science operations, lead education/public outreach, perform mission operations, provide navigation support, and
relay hardware and operations. As of now, MAVEN is scheduled to launch in November of 2013

To read more, full article at: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/maven/news/maven-structure.html

Posted by charwei at 03:56 PM | Comments (3)

September 28, 2011

The Climate of Venus

Most of us have known since early on that Venus, although the second closet planet to the sun, is the hottest. An article on the Science Daily website looked into this. Because of the thick sulfuric clouds that hover above the planets surface the temperature bakes at around 800 degrees Fahrenheit most days, with little variation from day to day in that temperature. As we learned in class the earth has its seasons because its axis is tilted by around 23 degrees. Venus, however, has only an axis tilt of three degrees so this effect doesn’t really happen. In addition temperatures don’t cool down any significant amount when one part of the planet is at night because the thick buildup of clouds keeps heat trapped in and temperatures up.

Conversely the upper atmosphere, specifically the mesosphere and thermosphere, see some drastic temperature change. In the mesosphere scientists have seen as much as a 54 degrees Fahrenheit change in the temperature in one earth day. One theory for this is the volatile air currents carrying warm and cool air traveling in different directions at hundreds of miles per hour. Some of the hot air and cold air exchanges layers and causes rapid heating and cooling. The surface of Venus would be like an oven, and the upper atmosphere like a broken shower going from scolding hot water to cold water.

Read the full article at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110927171052.htm

Posted by sjbar at 06:39 PM | Comments (7)

Invisible Planets Become Visible

Astronomers are no longer limited to being able to physically see planets. They noticed that a certain exoplanet, although not able to be seen, is recognized because of its influence on another exoplanet. Specifically, Kepler-19 (a star) orbits another exoplanet. Astronomers noticed a strange irregularity in Kepler-19's orbit, thus concluding that there must be a gravitational pull of another planet's orbit that interferes. It is a liberating method, allowing many more planets to be discovered, if not seen.

Read the full article at: http://news.discovery.com/space/kepler-discovers-phantom-menace-110909.html

Posted by ballo at 04:41 PM | Comments (2)

September 27, 2011

Pluto now has four moons

A discovery by astronomers using Hubble Space Telescope a few months ago announced Pluto adding a fourth moon to its list. The new moon is under 21 miles in diameter. Even though Pluto is considered a dwarf planet, it now has four moons orbiting it. The largest of the original three, Charon, is 650 miles in diameter and was discovered in 1978; Nix and Hydra, discovered just six years ago, are smaller. The observations of the new moon were part of The New Horizons Mission (scheduled to flyby Pluto in 2015). "A moon-hunt was not the goal of the program, but it was something in the back of our minds all along," said Dr. Mark Showalter of the SETI Institute of Mountain View, California.*

*Full article at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/21/science/space/21pluto.html?_r=1&ref=astronomyandastrophysics

Posted by mhymes at 03:26 PM | Comments (1)

"The Fastest Way to Send Humans to Mars is to Not Worry About Bringing Them Back"

An article recently posted by the Seattle Times discussed a recent article some scientists had written to send astronauts to mars without scheduling the return flight. As you all know the journey to mars would be the most dangerous task any space program has attempted in the history of the world. Getting to mars alone would be tough enough, however the return trip would be even harder. Departing the planet of mars brings about much more risk than when we departed the moon. This got some scientists into thinking, "what if we sent astronauts to mars, and left them there." The mission would allow these astronauts to conduct research and find a shelter somewhere on the desolate planet. The scientists stated that the astronauts would have to be older than 60 so reproduction would not be an option. When NASA was asked about the idea they replied, "We want our people back.".....This was one of the strangest articles I've read. It was very interesting to hear an idea that is way out of the "normal" realm.

Geranios, Nicholas. "Scientists Propose One-Way Trip to Mars." Seattle Times
Online. N.p., 15 Nov. 2010. Web. 26 Sept. 2011.
2013438727_apusonewaytomars.html>.

Posted by balerner at 12:02 AM | Comments (11)

September 26, 2011

The Lunar's North Pole

As we learned in the class, we would not be able to see the far side of the moon(without our eyes) because of the moon's rotation facing earthside. Few weeks ago, LROC(Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera) took images of the moon's north pole. The picture composes of 983 images taken over a one month period. This picture was taken when the moon was best illuminated(northern summer). Interesting thing about the moon's north pole picture is that they might have regions that are in permanent shadow. This is where the scientists discovered ice deposits are.

Full article with an image : http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/image_feature_2054.html

Posted by sangsong at 10:46 PM | Comments (0)

September 25, 2011

From the Comfort of Home, Web Users May Have Found New Planets

The "Planet Hunters" are an online citizen science project with over 40,000 members. They recently announced their discovery of two new exoplanets. One of the two is a rocky planet similar to earth, however is too far to have liquid water, and thus is unlikely to have life. The Kepler team is using the Planet Hunter's findings. I find this to be an interesting article because it astonishes me that people can find planets from the comfort of the internet. By allowing anybody to analyze the data found, the Planet Hunters may be more successful than a professional team could be.

Read more here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110922093321.htm

Posted by dhurvitz at 10:30 PM | Comments (8)

September 24, 2011

People Discovering New Planets: From the Comfort of Their Living Rooms

I found this article to be pretty amazing and interesting since two weeks ago we were talking about the Goldie Locks planet (HD 85512b) that was found that astronomers believe is habitable. And now there is this article about Planet Hunters users who may have found two possible planets. The article from Science Daily says that the candidate planets orbit their host stars with periods ranging from 10 - 50 days. Sadly unlike the Goldie Locks planet these planets don't appear to be in the habitable zone around their star and so life isn't possible. But what I find most interesting is that fact that these possible planets were found normal web users like myself. I think that the Planet Hunters project is a great idea and I'm kind of disappointed that I am just now finding out about it. The idea that is NASA is sharing real data with users so that everyday people such as myself can be involved in the scientific discover of Planets is amazing. Now look where it has lead us, today we have two possible planets that were found by Planet Hunters users. According to the article, "Users found the two candidates in the first month of Planet Hunters operations using data the Kepler mission made publicly available." I'm glad that I know about this project now and I think that I am going to sign-up and if anyone else would like to sign up here is the url http://www.planethunters.org.

Posted by damiikwe at 06:57 PM | Comments (1)

September 23, 2011

UARS Satellite can be affected by solar activity

I thought that this article was pretty interesting since we just learned a little bit about atmospheric drag in chapter 4. The Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) was supposed to be headed back towards the Earths Atmosphere by sometime around this afternoon. Astronomers and scientists have had a tough time keeping track of its path and the pace due to how the Earth's atmosphere can warm up as a result of incoming energy and particles form the sun. Satellites often experience a drag while moving through the outer parts of the Earths atmosphere more commonly known as the thermosphere. As this thermosphere begins to puff up through the heat given off by x-radiation, the more drag the satellites will experience when re-entering the earth. Specifically for satellites with low altitudes, this increase in energy comes from sun spots and solar flares. Scientists state that the number of photons can increase by a 100 times or more from one single flare. It will be interesting to see if the UARS entered the earth's atmosphere without any problems.

You can read more about this article on http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110923102539.htm

Posted by aakashj at 03:15 PM | Comments (0)

September 22, 2011

NASA's Dawn Collects a Bounty of Beauty From Asteroid Vesta

The framing camera aboard NASA's Dawn spacecraft has captured visualizations of Vesta. These photos are important because they will help scientists determine the process that formed Vesta's features. Vesta is the second largest object in the main asteroid belt. A video is provided of Dawn's view of Vesta at this url: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/video/index.cfm?id=1020. Like Earth, Vesta has seasons; it is currently winter on Vesta. In the south pole region there is a massive circular structure that is several hundreds of miles wide. There is one particular mountain in the center of the depression that rises approximately 9 miles high making it one of the "highest elevations of all known bodies with solid surfaces in the solar system." The images were used to determine Vesta's rotational axis as well as a system for latitude and longitude coordinates. Craters will be named after the vestal virgins as well as other famous Roman women and other features will be named for towns and festivals of that era. The insight that Dawn was able to provide on Vesta could be vital in the search for life beyond Earth and habitable environments.

Full Article:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110919123446.htm

Video of Vesta:
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/video/index.cfm?id=1020.

Posted by abrod at 11:45 AM | Comments (3)

September 21, 2011

Fifty New Exoplanets Discovered

I found an article discussing that astronomers using a telescope in Chile found fifty new exoplanets. Of these planets there are 16 "super earths" which are planets with a mass much greater than earths but not as big as Gas Giants like Jupiter. It is very exciting because one of these super earths is in the habitable zone and we have been discussing the importance of this zone in recent classes. These planets will be studied more to figure out their atmospheres and other characteristics to figure out if they are good candidates for possible life.
Here is a website with the full article written by Paul Rincon:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-14890143

Posted by ouellbre at 11:02 PM | Comments (3)

Black Hole's flaring jet is captured by NASA

NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) has been able to capture the inner parts of a flaring black hole's jet for the first time ever. This is an important benchmark in the history of researcgh on black holes, allowing astronomers to make sense of enigmatic black holes. The black hole being observed is called GX 339-4, its location is 20,000 light years from Earth near the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. GX 339-4 pulls matter from a companion star that orbits it, most of the matter gets pulled beyond the event horizon into the black hole, but a portion of it is blasted out violently in the form of a jet. WISE has been taking pictures of this phenomenon every 11 seconds for a year, finding that the size of the jet projected by the black hole varies greatly from time to time. Astronomers are attempting to figure out what causes this.

Full article:
http://astronomy.com/en/News-Observing/News/2011/09/NASAs%20WISE%20mission%20captures%20black%20holes%20wildly%20flaring%20jet.aspx

Posted by jeffsong at 03:28 PM | Comments (7)

September 20, 2011

Dinosaur Death by Asteroid Theory is now Doubtful

NASA's WISE (Wide infrared survey explorer) Scanned the night sky between January 2010 and February 2011 and discovered 33,000 new asteroids. Originally, scientists were fairly confident that the extinction of dinosaurs about 65 million years ago was due to the impact of a mountain-sized asteroid piece on earth from a larger asteroid known as Baptistina. This impact was thought to have caused the dust cloud, cold temperatures, starvation, etc. that we are all familiar with. New evidence due to the WISE scan of the sky concludes that the original calculations were off, and the age and reflection of the pieces of the Baptistina collision were not the cause if the dinosaur extinction.

The case has now gone cold.

You can read the whole article at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110919144042.htm

Posted by paukenth at 04:57 PM | Comments (11)

September 19, 2011

Milky Way's spiral arms

Recently, at University of California, astronomers found out that the Milky Way's spiral arms are the product of an intergalactic collision course (it helps if you see the photo in the link below). Approximately two billion years ago, a small neighboring galaxy called Sagittarius dwarf galaxy and the disc of Milky Way galaxy have collided. It says that the stars in the Sagittarius dwarf galaxy were torn with the collision and because those stars were attracted to our Milky Way galaxy's strong gravity, it made a stream of stars (spiraling arms).
"The Sagittarius galaxy is due to strike the southern face of the Milky Way disk fairly soon, Purcell said — in another 10 million years or so." - Quoted from the article.
Link: http://www.astronomy.com/News-Observing/News/2011/09/Milky%20Ways%20spiral%20arms%20are%20the%20product%20of%20an%20intergalactic%20collision%20course.aspx

Posted by buruken at 08:35 PM | Comments (1)

Proof that Astronauts made it to the Moon

Earlier this month NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or (LRO), took very high resolution photos of the moon's surface. The photos are so clear that we can see the tracks and the debris left behind by the Apollo 17 astronauts and their lunar rover. This is proof to all the skeptics who doubt that we actually have been to the moon and that people have actually set foot on it. The photos sent back to us by the LRO were taken between 13 and 15 miles above the moon's surface. Two years ago the LRO sent back images from about 30-60 miles off of the moon's surface, but those images were too blurry to discern much from them. These new images however, are the closest pictures that have been taken by the satellite and are of a very high clarity. From this close distance observers were able to discern the actual landing locations of the vehicles, the trails that the rover took, as well as the actual lunar rover itself still sitting on the surface of the moon.

For the rest of the article go to:

http://news.yahoo.com/astronauts-tracks-trash-seen-moon-photos-171551736.html

Posted by nzingas at 06:33 PM | Comments (4)

Scientists Discover The Oldest, Largest Body Of Water In Existence--In Space

I recently stumbled upon this article from Firstcompany.com, and I found it very interesting. It told the story of a recent discovery of an immense cloud of water around a black hole 12 billion light years away. The official NASA news release describes the vastness of the cloud of water vapor as "140 trillion times all the water in all of the world's oceans." In another light, the article describes the water cloud as "enough to supply 28 galaxies [the size of the milky way] with water." The article goes on to speculate upon the age of the water cloud, which was created by the release of energy in a black hole, which is colliding hydrogen and oxygen atoms. Being 12 billion light years away, the light that the researchers have been observing is 12 billion years old. The light seen is indicating that the vast cloud of water has been around at least as early as 1.6 billion years after the universe was created. This discovery of such a vast amount of water is pretty neat.
Here is a link: http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/2jchoa/www.fastcompany.com/1769468/scientist-discover-the-oldest-largest-body-of-water-in-existence-in-space

Posted by derbach at 04:19 PM | Comments (3)

September 18, 2011

The Big Picture

Carl Sagan is often mentioned in class, so when I found this great quote on stumbleupon, I thought I should share. It really puts things into perspective.

http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/1EcaHI/stapledesign.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/carlsaganexistence.jpg

Posted by jennkale at 04:37 PM | Comments (3)

September 17, 2011

X-rays from the star evaporates planet

Recent research shows that a planet discovered in 2008 is now being evaporated by the X-rays from the star which it is orbiting. First thing that is interesting about it is, although the evaporation is at a rate of 5000,000 ton/s, which is seemingly a very huge amount in a very short time, it is still almost neglectable for the planet, which has three times the mass of Jupiter. "A loss of just 0.073 Jupiter masses per billion years" leads to a conclusion that "Complete evaporation would take longer than the star's lifetime". Another thing that might interests people is that the planet itself can somehow be responsible for maintaining the star's radioactivity at such a high level by orbiting the star at a relatively short distance, which "may be speeding up the star's rotation" and thus animating its magnetic field. A supporting evidence is that a companion star of this star without such a planet doesn't keep up its radioactivity, although the two of them should have the same initial conditions.
For more detailed information go to:
http://www.astronomynow.com/news/n1109/14corot/

Posted by wangrt at 03:33 PM | Comments (0)

September 16, 2011

Planet Like 'Star Wars' Tatooine Discovered Orbiting 2 Suns

This is a Yahoo article on the discovery of a planet with two suns, named Kepler-16(AB)-b. The Kepler-16 system is roughly 200 light-years away. Kepler-16(AB)-b is similar to Saturn in size except it is 50 percent denser. According to lead author Laurance Doyle, an astrophysicist at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute in Mountain View, Calif, "Kepler-16(AB)-b is not habitable as we know it". The planet is on a 229-day orbit around both of its two suns. Kepler-16(AB)-b is the first planet discovered by astronomers with two orbiting suns. Astrophysicists Laurance Doyle believes that this discovery will lead to many more discoveries, "Now that we know how to detect circumbinary planets, I think we are going to find a lot more rapidly".

http://news.yahoo.com/planet-star-wars-tatooine-discovered-orbiting-2-suns-181404397.html
By Charles Q. Choi, SPACE.com Contributor Space.com

Posted by chazr at 03:04 PM | Comments (2)

September 15, 2011

Two suns are better than one

Breaking News!

NASA, using their Kepler telescope, has recently discovered a planet that is orbiting two suns. This marks the first planet found to orbit around more than one star. The planet, named Kepler-16b, is an uninhabitable cold gas giant that is approximately "200 light years" away from the earth.

Scientists say that when the day ends on Kepler-16b, there is a "double sunset". These two suns weigh less than our earth's sun both individually and combined.

And it does not stop there as scientists have hinted that the planet may be orbiting around a third sun as "the bright­ness of the sys­tem dipped" during times when there were no observable eclipses.

For more information visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-14940885. You can also look at http://www.world-science.net/othernews/110915_circumbinary.htm to see an artist's rendering of what a mind blowing double sunset may look like.

Posted by davidnug at 09:43 PM | Comments (2)

Planet Orbits Two Stars

I just read an interesting article that NASA's telescope Kepler found a planet orbiting two stars about 200 light-years from Earth. The article compares this newly discovered planet to the Star Wars film's Tatooine planet, which has a double sunset. This double sunset is now scientific fact because of Kepler's new planet discovery.
The circumbinary planet is cold and gaseous. Although it is not thought to harbor life, scientists believe the planet is a milestone discovery. The discovery shows a new class of planetary systems that could harbor life. Scientists believe chance of life on another planet is a lot greater now that they can also search binary systems of stars for planets.

Here's a link to the full article: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/main/index.html

Posted by morejill at 09:32 PM | Comments (0)

September 14, 2011

Supermassive Black Hole Swallows Star

Scientists recently had the opportunity to witness one of the most awe-inspiring events in space. Recently, Swift Observatory (which orbits the Earth), observed a huge burst of radiation. As it is programed to do, it alerted the scientists who operate it. After three more similar bursts were seen, scientists realized that such activity couldn't come from supernova as originally expected. Eventually they deduced that they were witnessing a black hole swallowing the mass of a nearby star, making them the first humans ever to get data on such an event. They suspect that the black hole is located in the center of a galaxy, an orbiting star got too close. As the star was getting swallowed, some of its plasma shot out, which is what Swift Observatory picked up on. Luckily for us here on Earth, we are in no danger from that black hole, which is over 4 billion light years away. Black holes are very hard to observe, since they do not usually give off any signs of their existence at all. This forces scientists to use indirect signals, such as gravitational influence. However, this is an opportunity to learn more about one of the most mysterious phenomenon in the universe. In fact, it could shed light on what may be Earth's eventual fate, since it is widely believed that the Milky Way has a supermassive black hole at its center as well. It's a small piece to the puzzle, but every one helps. You can read the original article by Amina Khan here: http://www.latimes.com/news/science/la-sci-black-hole-20110825,0,7532003.story?track=icymi

Posted by mgilbs at 01:01 AM | Comments (2)

September 13, 2011

New Discoveries Or A Missed Opportunity?

A recent article on the BBC states that a new batch of ‘exoplanets’ have been discovered, 50 to be exact, by a group of astronomers in Chile. Exoplanets are planets that are outside our Solar System and are the main area in which we are searching for extraterrestrial life. This most recent project uses a telescope that searches for signs of gravitational ‘wobble’ to discover the location of planets (as mentioned in an article below.) They have found one specific planet amongst these 50 in the ‘habitable zone’ of its star, somewhere in the orbit of the star where life could be sustained, and have started their search for oxygen or liquid water. Why is there an assumption that whatever life we might find is going to function biologically in the same way that we, as humans, do? Is there not a possibility that somewhere in the Universe there exists life that does not rely on oxygen and water to exist? Although the presence of oxygen and liquid water might suggest life-forms similar to humans, by ignoring planets that do not have these elements are we missing an opportunity to find the so far elusive ‘ET?’

Here is a link to the original articel: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-14890143

Posted by arevuo at 11:22 PM | Comments (2)

Hank Green on Space

The Hubble Ultra Deep Field: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQ96unZHx-c
The Fermi Paradox: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wTVLsrDWxr0&feature=relmfu

These two videos are vlogbrothers videos that discuss the possibility of life in our galaxy. The first video talks about the Hubble Ultra Deep Field experiment, in which the Hubble telescope was pointed at a completely blank spot in space. A picture of that spot was taken and it revealed that there were over 3,000 galaxies in that little blank spot. And each galaxy contains billions of stars, many of them could possibly support life.
The second video discusses potential alien life more directly by discussing the Fermi Paradox. The Fermi Paradox states that there are around 400 billion stars in our galaxy, which means many of them have planets, so at least some of those planets should (and do) support life. Basing what we know off our own planet and civilization, it stands to reason that the life that the planets have supported would evolve much like our own and civilization would advance. This means that there are civilizations out there that are advanced enough to attempt space travel or at least contact with other planets. However, no evidence of life on other planets has been presented. So if it's so possible that life in space exists, where are they?

They're very interesting videos and Hank does a much better job of explaining than I do. If you've already seen them because you're a nerdfighter you get to see them again. If you don't know what I'm talking about, sorry, the vlogbrothers have a very committed following. DFTBA

Posted by jajud at 09:34 PM | Comments (6)

Invisible Planet Found 650 Light-Years Away

I found this very interesting article on Time.com. A Harvard Graduate student has found a remarkable way to discover new exoplanets within our universe. However, the most amazing thing about all of this is that the certain planet found is invisible! Hopefully through this new found method more planets will be discovered in a very short time. There is a short excerpt included below along with a link to the original Time article.

"Searching for planets around distant stars isn't easy. A few of the hundreds of extrasolar planets discovered so far have been found the old-fashioned way — by taking the planets' pictures through powerful telescopes. But the vast majority have called for more ingenious approaches. Planet hunters have found extrasolar planets by watching for the subtle wobble in a star's position as a planet's gravity tugs it back and forth. They've noted the almost imperceptible dimming of a star's light as a planet passes between it and Earth. They've seen a distant star twinkle, first brightly and then faintly, as a nearer star, and then its planet drift by.

But a new way to find planets may be the most ingenious yet. Writing in the Astrophysical Journal, Harvard graduate student Sarah Ballard and several colleagues have announced the discovery of a world orbiting a star about 650 light-years from Earth, in the constellation Lyra, whose presence was revealed by its gravitational pull on another planet — a planet that itself can be detected only indirectly."


Read more: http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2092448,00.html#ixzz1XscWLZYG

Posted by tmthirty at 07:51 PM | Comments (0)

September 12, 2011

New Super Earth Found

I just read a really cool story on Space.com, apparently the people at the European Space Observatory found 50 new exoplanets. 16 of the exoplanets are designated as Super Earths. Whats exciting about this news is that one of the Super Earths is in the habitable zone. Its only about 4 times bigger than the Earth, which I would assume means it has an atmosphere. This doesn't mean that it has life, pretty sure our telescopes aren't good enough to see alien activity on exoplanets yet. but its probably one of the best candidates for detectable life outside our solar system. On another note I did read a headline over the weekend about ESO saying they were going to make a big announcement today. This is a big deal in the astronomical world.
The article was written by Denise Chow and a contribution was made by Clara Moskowitz. The article can be found at http://www.space.com/12915-habitable-alien-planet-hd-85512b-super-earth.html

Posted by dhupp at 08:01 PM | Comments (4)

September 02, 2011

Welcome to the Astronomy 101 Web log

Welcome to the Astronomy 101 Web log. Active students in Astronomy 101 will be able to post and comment on recent astronomical science and discovery. Students are encouraged to post and discuss topics often and thoughtfully. If you hear about an astronomical discovery, blog about it here. Or keep an eye on APOD, NASA or the NOAO.

There are no rules other than professionalism, courtesy, and copyright respect. Please make sure your pictures are in the public domain (NASA and NOAO images are always in the public domain) and that proper citations are given.

You can post about any astronomy-related topic: recent news worthy events, astronomy websites, your own thoughts and questions, political discussions regarding the funding of astronomy, etc. However, the text of the posts and discussions (i.e. comments) must be your own. Cite properly and often. Plagiarism is grounds for immediate removal from the site. To gain access to the site to make posts, please follow the instructions on the CTools site.

Previous class blogs are:
http://http://mblog.lib.umich.edu/Astro101winter2011/ and
http://mblog.lib.umich.edu/astro101fall2010/


To earn extra credit for your class, please be sure to read the instructions provided to you at the course CTools site (under Resources/Course Information).

Please note that this blog is visible to the public and that anyone with a U-M unique-name can comment.

Posted by christoq at 12:19 PM | Comments (1)