December 2006

Schedule Update

December 31, 2006

Centauri Dreams will not publish on January 1. The regular publication schedule resumes on the afternoon of the 2nd. Happy New Year to all!

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A Celestial Companion for 2007

December 30, 2006

The last regular posting of 2006 is a good time to remind you that Tammy Plotner’s What’s Up 2007 is now available. It’s a 410 page PDF file that takes you through celestial events on a day to day basis for the entire year. Loaded with photographs and charts, What’s Up 2007 is free to […]

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Tightening the Focus on Dark Matter

December 29, 2006

Interesting things happen when gravitational lenses go to work. The earliest observations of the phenomenon involved entire clusters of galaxies. When the alignment is right, a galaxy cluster between the observer and a still more distant galaxy will bend the light of that galaxy. It will appear as one or more luminous arcs which are […]

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Meanwhile, on Centauri B…

December 28, 2006

With COROT on its way, the search for exoplanets moves into a new phase with an active, space-based transit study. Launched from Baikonur (Kazakhstan) yesterday, the mission’s status reports will be available online and should provide fascinating reading. After all, COROT will monitor 120,000 stars with its 30-centimeter telescope, looking for the signatures of planetary […]

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The Darkening of Centauri A

December 27, 2006

Take a look at the image of Alpha Centauri in the Centauri Dreams logo. It’s the bright object at far left, not the single star that it appears but a triple system whose glare masks its two major components. Centauri A is a G2 star much like our Sun, while Centauri B is a K1. […]

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Quieting Mass Extinction Worries

December 26, 2006

I don’t want to leave the subject of gamma ray bursts (GRBs) without considering findings that seem to reduce the potential threat from these events. And the revision of a significant GRB paper that I meant to discuss earlier gives me the chance to circle back around to it. The subject is intriguing because it […]

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Schedule Update

December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas! And for those of you who celebrate other holidays — or none at all — best wishes for the season. Centauri Dreams will not publish on December 24 or 25. The normal publication schedule resumes on the afternoon of the 26th.

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A Gamma Ray Puzzle

December 23, 2006

When you’re calculating the odds on life in any region of the galaxy, the rate of supernova explosions comes into play. As we saw yesterday, one factor Nikos Prantzos examined in his recent work on the galactic habitable zone was the effect that hard radiation could have on exposed land life. But what about gamma […]

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Life Throughout the Galaxy?

December 22, 2006

Is there a galactic habitable zone, a region within the Milky Way where conditions for life are optimum? If so, we want to know its parameters, as they would help us define the search area for living worlds. The concept has kicked around for a while, and now surfaces again in an interesting paper by […]

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Fermi Meets Elsie: SETI’s New Conundrum

December 21, 2006

“Simple and cheap, like onion dip.” That’s how Seth Shostak (SETI Institute) refers to our early optical search systems, which have involved limited equipment in the hunt for extraterrestrial intelligence, at least when compared to the much more demanding resources deployed by the radio search. Cheap is good, but not when you can only check […]

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