Archive | Space


Earth-sized exoplanet identified

NASA’s Kepler space telescope has achieved a new milestone in its ongoing hunt for exoplanets that might resemble Earth and harbor life. Two new planets – christened Kepler-20e and 20f – are the smallest yet discovered outside our solar system. The astronomers who made the discovery say one is the same size as Earth and […]

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Solar flares “sandblasting” the Moon

Solar storms remove a surprisingly large amount of material from the lunar surface, computer simulations have revealed, leading NASA scientists to speculate that solar storms may also be a major factor in atmospheric loss on Mars and other planets. This is the first time researchers have attempted to predict the effects of sun activity on […]

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Springtime on Earth II

The Kepler space telescope has identified a large, rocky exoplanet with a surface temperature of about 22 degrees Celsius (72 degrees F, comparable to a comfortable spring day on Earth). The discovery represents the first detection of a possibly habitable world in orbit around a star much like our own Sun. The team behind the […]

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Running the numbers on alien life

A multi-institute team of scientists have proposed a new method of assessing the likelihood of life on alien worlds (exoplanets) while another group is mulling the possibility that alien space probes might currently be residing in our solar system. Astrobiologist Dirk Schulze-Makuch, from Washington State University, believes that a method for quantifying the probability of […]

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Lost: one giant planet

Computer simulations of the early solar system suggest the possibility that our system had more than four giant planets initially and that one was ejected as the solar system settled into its current form. Dr. David Nesvorny’s hypothesis, published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, depicts the early solar system as a chaotic place, with planets […]

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SETI needs to see the light, say astrophysicists

SETI’s (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) quest to find radio signals transmitted by extraterrestrial civilizations has so far failed to locate any alien shock jocks, so two astronomers have suggested a new technique for finding aliens: look for their city lights. In their paper, Avi Loeb, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Edwin Turner, of […]

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US astronomers give nod to complex organics in space

The controversial notion that complex organic molecules could be relatively common in interstellar space has garnered support from US and European astronomers’ new observations of a series of diffuse interstellar bands that were first recorded 90 years ago. The new findings, published in Nature, are the work of Donald Figer, of the Rochester Institute of […]

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Stars manufacturing complex organic matter?

An analysis of the spectral emissions from distant stars suggests that compounds of unexpected complexity – some resembling coal and petroleum – exist throughout the universe and are being made by stars. The proponents of this controversial idea, Professors Sun Kwok and Yong Zhang of the University of Hong Kong, argue their case in the […]

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Energy levels of Crab Pulsar defy explanation

An international team of scientists has detected pulsed gamma rays from the neutron star at the heart of the Crab Nebula with energies far higher than theoretical pulsar models can explain. The emissions were detected by the VERITAS (Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System) array of four 12-meter Cherenkov telescopes in Arizona and the […]

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