September 2007

Neon: Unexpected Find May Flag Planets

September 19, 2007

Neon isn’t an unusual find in spectroscopic studies of massive stars or, for that matter, in observations of novae or the galactic core. Energetic X-ray or ultraviolet emissions can ionize the gas, at which point it produces infrared light at characteristic wavelengths. Not expecting to find it around low-mass stars like our Sun, researchers have […]

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Re-Thinking the Magellanic Clouds

September 18, 2007

Centauri Dreams has always been captivated with the Magellanic Clouds, two galaxies that are the Milky Way’s nearest neighbors in space. The fascination is in many respects visual. Knowing that they’re a beautiful sight to those below the equator, the counter-thought came quickly to mind — what would the Milky Way look like from one […]

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Dark Matter’s Surviving Clues

September 17, 2007

Considering that we can’t see dark matter and have little idea what it is, the notion that we could take its temperature seems preposterous. But new work out of Durham University (UK) points to a way of using visible astronomical sources to draw conclusions about dark matter’s effects in the early universe. Using computer simulations […]

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Living Off the Land in Space (review)

September 17, 2007

By Bernd Henschenmacher In Living off the Land in Space, Gregory Matloff, Les Johnson and artist C. Bangs discuss how mankind may colonize the Solar System and travel to nearby stars using energy and material resources provided by nature. The whole book is devoted to the ‘Living off the Land’ concept, which is introduced in […]

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Notes & Queries 9/15/07

September 15, 2007

Too beautiful not to run immediately, this image of the Corona Australis region (be sure to click to enlarge) shows a relatively nearby hotbed of star formation. The Coronet cluster at its heart is a loose cluster of several dozen stars, all of them young but ranging widely in mass. Here we’re looking at the […]

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Could Earth Survive Sun’s Demise?

September 14, 2007

I, for one, wouldn’t want to be around to witness what happens when the Earth is faced with an ever expanding Sun that has exhausted its hydrogen fuel. Conventional wisdom has it that the planet will likely be engulfed by what will then become a red giant. Certainly Mercury and Venus will, and the Earth’s […]

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Habitable Zones Around Gliese 581

September 13, 2007

Figuring out planetary habitable zones gets a little less theoretical when we start talking about known systems. And when that system is Gliese 581, the interest level rises considerably. After the initial announcements of a possibly habitable planet around that star, Gliese 581c was later analyzed (in a paper by Werner von Bloh and team) […]

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Building the Celestial Bestiary

September 12, 2007

We’ve found our share of unusual planets in the short time since actual observations could be made. A decade ago, it would have been hard to come up with anything more unexpected that a ‘hot Jupiter,’ orbiting so close to its parent star that its orbital period is measured in scant days. Add in ‘super […]

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IdeaFestival: Now Playing in Louisville

September 12, 2007

The IdeaFestival, launched today and continuing through the 15th in Louisville KY, looks at topics ranging from parallel worlds (Michio Kaku) to robot ‘swarm’ intelligence (James McLurkin), and throws in cutting edge ideas from numerous other disciplines. Breakthrough thinking can emerge from the synergies between science, the arts, technology, film, business and education. Thus the […]

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Mission to an Earth-Crosser

September 11, 2007

Although I see no sign of it yet on the company’s Web page, British aerospace firm EADS Astrium is designing a spacecraft to be called APEX for a potential mission to an asteroid. APEX is short for Apophis Explorer, naming the target of this interesting payload, which would rendezvous with the tiny asteroid in 2014 […]

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