Deep Sky Astronomy & Telescopes

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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Space Telescopes Beyond Hubble and JWST

September 12, 2014

Ashley Baldwin tracks developments in astronomical imaging with a passion, making him a key source for me in keeping up with the latest developments. In this follow-up to his earlier story on interferometry, Ashley looks at the options beyond the James Webb Space Telescope, particularly those that can help in the exoplanet hunt. Coronagraph and […]

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A Deep Probe of Planet Formation

September 9, 2014

Surrounding the star HD100546, some 335 light years from Earth in the southern hemisphere constellation Musca (The Fly), is a cloud of gas and dust in the shape of a disk. The young star is 30 times brighter than the Sun and about 2.5 times as large. Sean Brittain (Clemson University) and team have now […]

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