Posts Tagged ‘astronomy’

Mysteries of a Nearby Planetary System’s Dynamics now are solved

An illustration of the orbital distances and relative sizes of the four innermost planets known to orbit the star 55 Cancri A (bottom) in comparison with planets in own inner solar system (top). Both Jupiter and the Jupiter-mass planet 55 Cancri “d” are outside this picture, orbiting their host star with a distance of nearly 5 astronomical units (AU), where one AU is equal to the average distance between the Earth and the Sun. (Credit: Center for Exoplanets and Habitable Worlds, Penn State University.)

An illustration of the orbital distances and relative sizes of the four innermost planets known to orbit the star 55 Cancri A (bottom) in comparison with planets in own inner solar system (top). Both Jupiter and the Jupiter-mass planet 55 Cancri “d” are outside this picture, orbiting their host star with a distance of nearly 5 astronomical units (AU), where one AU is equal to the average distance between the Earth and the Sun. (Credit: Center for Exoplanets and Habitable Worlds, Penn State University.)

Main Points:

Mysteries of one of the most fascinating nearby planetary systems now have been solved, report authors of a scientific paper to be published by the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society in its early online edition on 22 April 2014. The study, which presents the first viable model for the planetary system orbiting one the first stars discovered to have planets — the star named 55 Cancri — was led by Penn State University graduate student Benjamin Nelson in collaboration with faculty at the Center for Exoplanets and Habitable Worlds at Penn State and five astronomers at other institutions in the United States and Germany. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by saypeople - April 23, 2014 at 2:00 am

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Red Stars and Big Bulges: How Black Holes Shape Galaxies

Images of a small fraction of the galaxies analyzed in the new study. The galaxies are ordered by total mass of stars (rising from bottom to top) and by ‘bulge to total stellar mass ratio’ (rising from left to right). Galaxies that appear redder have high values for both of these measurements, meaning that the mass of the bulge -- and central black hole -- determines their color. (Credit: A. Bluck)

Images of a small fraction of the galaxies analyzed in the new study. The galaxies are ordered by total mass of stars (rising from bottom to top) and by ‘bulge to total stellar mass ratio’ (rising from left to right). Galaxies that appear redder have high values for both of these measurements, meaning that the mass of the bulge — and central black hole — determines their color. (Credit: A. Bluck)

Main Points:

The universe we can see is made up of billions of galaxies, each containing anywhere from hundreds of thousands to hundreds of billions of stars. Large numbers of galaxies are elliptical in shape, red and mostly made up of old stars. Another (more familiar) type is the spiral, where arms wind out in a blue thin disk from a central red bulge. On average stars in spiral galaxies tend to be much younger than those in ellipticals. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by saypeople - April 22, 2014 at 10:00 am

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First Discovery of an Earth-Sized Planet in the Habitable Zone

Main Points:

For the first time, an Earth-sized planet has been found in the habitable zone of its star.  This discovery not only proves the existence of worlds that might be similar to our own, but will undoubtedly shape future investigations of exoplanets that could have terrestrial surface environments.

Study Further:

The new-found body, orbiting the red dwarf star Kepler-186 and designated Kepler-186f, is the fifth — and outermost — world to be discovered in this system.  The results are described in an article appearing in Science.

“This is the first definitive Earth-sized planet found in the habitable zone around another star,” says lead author Elisa Quintana of the SETI Institute at NASA Ames Research Center.  “Finding such planets is a primary goal of the Kepler space telescope.  The star is a main-sequence M-dwarf, a very common type.  More than 70 percent of the hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy are M-dwarfs.”

Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by saypeople - April 17, 2014 at 11:00 pm

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A Cross-Section of the Universe

Hubble’s cross-section of the cosmos (Credit: NASA/ESA)

Hubble’s cross-section of the cosmos (Credit: NASA/ESA)

Main Points:

An image of a galaxy cluster taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope gives a remarkable cross-section of the Universe, showing objects at different distances and stages in cosmic history. They range from cosmic near neighbours to objects seen in the early years of the Universe. The 14-hour exposure shows objects around a billion times fainter than can be seen with the naked eye.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by saypeople - at 7:00 pm

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Kepler Astronomers Discover New Rocky Planet that may have Liquid Water

Main Point:

San Francisco State University astronomer Stephen Kane and an international team of researchers have announced the discovery of a new rocky planet that could potentially have liquid water on its surface.

Published in:

Science

Study Further:

The new planet, dubbed Kepler-186f, was discovered using NASA’s Kepler telescope, launched in March 2009 to search for habitable zone, Earth-sized planets in our corner of the Milky Way Galaxy. A habitable zone planet orbits its star at a distance where any water on the planet’s surface is likely to stay liquid. Since liquid water is critical to life on Earth, many astronomers believe the search for extraterrestrial life should focus on planets where liquid water occurs.

“Some people call these habitable planets, which of course we have no idea if they are,” said Kane, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy. “We simply know that they are in the habitable zone, and that is the best place to start looking for habitable planets.”

Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by saypeople - at 11:00 am

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