Deep Sky Astronomy & Telescopes

Starship Observational Signatures

March 24, 2015

Now and again in relatively rarefied SETI discussions the topic of starship detection comes up. Specifically, if there were a starship moving through the interstellar medium in the general vicinity of our perch in the Orion Arm, would we be able to detect any sort of signature in our astronomical data? Centauri Dreams regular Al […]

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Were There Planets Inside Mercury’s Orbit?

March 3, 2015

With the Mercury Messenger mission now coming to its end, it seems an appropriate time to speculate on why our inner Solar System looks the way it does. After all, as we continue finding new solar systems, we’re discovering many multi-planet systems with planets — often more than one — closer to their star than […]

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Scholz’s Star: A Close Flyby

February 19, 2015

The star HIP 85605 until recently seemed more interesting than it may now turn out to be. In a recent paper, Coryn Bailer-Jones (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg) noted that the star in the constellation Hercules had a high probability of coming close enough to our Solar System in the far future (240,000 to […]

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Information and Cosmic Evolution

February 16, 2015

Keeping information viable is something that has to be on the mind of a culture that continually changes its data formats. After all, preserving information is a fundamental part of what we do as a species — it’s what gives us our history. We’ve managed to preserve the accounts of battles and migrations and changes […]

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What Comets Are Made Of

February 12, 2015

When the Rosetta spacecraft’s Philae lander bounced while landing on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko last November, it was a reminder that comets have a hard outer shell, a black coating of organic molecules and dust that previous missions, like Deep Impact, have also observed. What we’d like to learn is what that crust is made of, and […]

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A Stellar Correlation: Spin and Age

January 13, 2015

Figuring out how fast a star spins can be a tricky proposition. It’s fairly simple if you’re close by, of course — in our Solar System, we can observe sunspot patterns on our own star and watch as they make a full rotation, the spin becoming obvious. From such observations we learn that how fast […]

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Stars Passing Close to the Sun

January 2, 2015

Every time I mention stellar distances I’m forced to remind myself that the cosmos is anything but static. Barnard’s Star, for instance, is roughly six light years away, a red dwarf that was the target of the original Daedalus starship designers back in the 1970s. But that distance is changing. If we were a species […]

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Voyager: Shock Waves in Deep Space

December 17, 2014

What exactly is the shock wave that Voyager 1 encountered earlier this year, a wave that is still propagating outward, according to new data from the craft? Researchers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory refer to it as a ‘tsunami wave,’ a simile that reminds us of the devastating effects of roiled water as it encounters […]

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WFIRST: The Starshade Option

December 1, 2014

What’s ahead for exoplanet telescopes in space? Ashley Baldwin, who tracks today’s exciting developments in telescope technology, today brings us a look at how a dark energy mission, WFIRST, may be adapted to perform exoplanet science of the highest order. One possibility is the use of a large starshade to remove excess starlight and reveal […]

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The Emergence of Solitary Stars

October 9, 2014

Looking at the latest work from Carnegie’s Alan Boss reminds me once again of the crucial role computers play in astrophysical calculations. We’re so used to the process that we’ve come to take it for granted, but imagine where we’d be without the ability to model complex gravitational systems. To understand planet formation, we can […]

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