December 2007

New Year’s Greetings

December 31, 2007

Best wishes to all for a wonderful 2008, and thanks beyond the telling to the numerous readers who participated in our discussions in the year past. There will be no post on New Year’s day, but we’ll get back to the normal schedule on the afternoon of January 2. Have a wonderful holiday.

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First Reflected Light from an Exoplanet?

December 31, 2007

Apropos of Saturday’s article on the Subaru Telescope — and the optical improvements that may help it detect an exoplanet image — comes news that scattered light from a planet orbiting another star has been detected by an international team. The planet is our old friend HD189733b, some sixty light years away in the constellation […]

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Ground-Based Camera for Exoplanet Imaging

December 29, 2007

How likely is it that we will begin to image extrasolar planets from observatories on the ground? The prospect seems all but certain if we grant a long enough lead time to get certain advanced telescope designs built, but it may happen sooner than we think if the news from the Subaru Telescope is factored […]

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Active SETI and the Public

December 27, 2007

When it comes to understanding possible extraterrestrial civilizations, I’m with Freeman Dyson, who had this to say: “Our business as scientists is to search the universe and find out what is there. What is there may conform to our moral sense or it may not…It is just as unscientific to impute to remote intelligences wisdom […]

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Supernovae Dust Detection

December 26, 2007

Cassopeia A is a supernova remnant some 11,000 light years away. Turning the attention of the Spitzer Space Telescope on this object allows us to examine the different elements within it, a useful exercise because it helps to answer a question about the early universe: Where did the interstellar dust so essential for the formation […]

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Holiday Greetings

December 24, 2007

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

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Exoplanetary Weather: From a Single Pixel

December 24, 2007

How much information can you extract from a single pixel? That’s a key question for exoplanet studies as we look to the day when advanced telescopes can actually see a planet orbiting another star. But a single point of light seems to offer scant value, which is where Enric Pallé (Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias) […]

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2007 WD5: More on the Mars-Crosser

December 22, 2007

The latest on the asteroid approaching Mars, with potentially Tunguska-like dangers, is that it will likely pass a safe 48,000 kilometers from the surface at about 1100 UTC on January 30. This news release describes the possibility of an impact as ‘unlikely,’ but goes on to say that if it does occur, the best view […]

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Asteroid Strike on Mars?

December 21, 2007

Perhaps it’s fortuitous that an object similar to the asteroid that caused the Tunguska event in Siberia may put on a display for us on Mars. It’s only a one in 75 chance that 2007 WD5 will strike the surface, and those odds may change again as further data are analyzed, but if it does […]

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Remembering ‘The Cosmic Connection’

December 20, 2007

You knew as soon as you opened Carl Sagan’s 1973 title The Cosmic Connection that you were leaving an Earth-centric view of the cosmos behind. The title page showed, spread across both it and the facing page, a spiral galaxy. The work of Sagan friend and collaborator Jon Lomberg, the illustration included reference to Type […]

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