Astrobiology and SETI

Bradley Schaefer: A Response to Michael Hippke

January 28, 2016

The question of a gradual dimming of KIC 8462852 continues to make waves, the most recent response being Michael Hippke’s preprint on the arXiv site, discussed in the post immediately below. Bradley Schaefer (Lousiana State University), who published his work on the dimming he found in now digitized photographs in the archives of Harvard College […]

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KIC 8462852: No Dimming After All?

January 27, 2016

As if the Kepler star KIC 8462852 weren’t interesting enough, Bradley Schaefer (Louisiana State) added to the controversy when he discovered what appeared to be a steady dimming of the star over the past century. Schaefer called the result “completely unprecedented for any F-type main sequence star,” and given the discussion about KIC 8462852 as […]

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A New Filter for Life’s Survival

January 22, 2016

How do we make out the odds on our survival as a species? Philosopher Nick Bostrom (University of Oxford) ponders questions of human extinction in terms of a so-called Great Filter. It’s one that gives us a certain insight into the workings of the universe, in Bostrom’s view, because it seems to keep the galaxy […]

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KIC 8462852: A Century Long Fade?

January 14, 2016

I hadn’t expected a new paper on KIC 8462852 quite this fast, but hard on the heels of yesterday’s article on the star comes “KIC 8462852 Faded at an Average Rate of 0.165±0.013 Magnitudes Per Century From 1890 To 1989,” from Bradley Schaefer (Louisiana State University). Schaefer takes a hard look at this F3 main […]

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Following Up KIC 8462852

January 13, 2016

As I sat down to write yesterday morning, I realized there was a natural segue between the 1977 ‘Wow!’ signal, and the idea that it had been caused by two comets, and KIC 8462852, the enigmatic star that has produced such an interesting series of light curves. What I had planned to start with today […]

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Return to ‘Wow!’

January 12, 2016

The famous Wow! signal, picked up on August 15, 1977 at the Big Ear radio telescope (Ohio State University) is back in the news, with a new theory suggesting a source for the signal right here in the Solar System. Antonio Paris (St. Petersburg College, FL) asks us to consider a cometary origin for the […]

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Globular Clusters: Home to Intelligent Life?

January 6, 2016

I can think of few things as spectacular as a globular cluster. Messier 5 is a stunning example in Serpens. With a radius of some 200 light years, M5 shines by the light of half a million stars, and at 13 billion years old, it’s one of the older globular clusters associated with our galaxy. […]

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Oxygenation: Gradual Process, Profound Results

December 21, 2015

The vast changes our planet has undergone since formation add a real sense of humility to the exoplanet hunt. It’s the humility that comes with exposure to deep time, reminding us that worlds like ours have developed through phases wildly different than the conditions we experience today. As we tune up our techniques for studying […]

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SETI: Project Argus and the Long Stare

December 14, 2015

I think you’ll find Jon Lomberg’s new essay in Slate as interesting as I do. We Need a World Cup for SETI uses a familiar figure at many sports events — the guy in the stands holding up a Biblical reference on a poster — to dig into a far more interesting issue. How does […]

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No Catastrophic Collision at KIC 8462852

November 30, 2015

Last week I mentioned that I wanted to get into Massimo Marengo’s new paper on KIC 8462852, the interesting star that, when studied by the Kepler instrument, revealed an intriguing light curve. I’ve written this object up numerous times now, so if you’re coming into the discussion for the first time, plug KIC 8462852 into […]

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