March 2010

Keeping Tabs on CoRoT

March 31, 2010

The Exoplanets Rising conference, now in progress at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (UC Santa Barbara), is offering a treasure trove of online material, including one I’m currently watching, a presentation by Magali Deleuil (Astronomy Observatory of Marseilles Provence) on CoRoT results. It’s extraordinary for those of us who couldn’t be at the conference […]

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Expect the Unexpected: Mimas and the LHC

March 30, 2010

I know I should be staggered by everything about the Large Hadron Collider, but frankly, what really has me jazzed this morning is that I’m writing this with a window on one side of my screen showing a live webcast from CERN and another in an upper corner showing a Saturnian moon. There is something […]

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SETI’s Best Chance: Find the Beacon

March 29, 2010

If we’re going to get lucky with SETI, it’s probably going to be through the reception of an interstellar beacon rather than the chance detection of an electronic emission from space. Sure, chance catches are possible, and for all we know odd receptions like the WOW! signal of 1977 might be cases in point. But […]

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Lensing Confirms Cosmic Acceleration

March 26, 2010

Ordinary baryonic matter (think protons and neutrons) is thought to account for no more than one-sixth of the total mass in the universe, the rest being dark matter that does not reflect or emit light. Usefully, though, dark matter does interact with the rest of the universe through gravity, and it can be probed by […]

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Keeping Tabs on Kepler

March 25, 2010

Making discoveries with new space missions always seems frustratingly slow, probably because with missions like Kepler, our expectations are so high. So it’s interesting to ponder what all is involved in getting the data analyzed and the discoveries pegged. This post from the Kepler team’s Charlie Sobeck points out that the first five planets Kepler […]

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New Model Looks Beneath Jupiter’s Clouds

March 24, 2010

Live by the cloud, die by the cloud. At least, that’s the way it felt this morning when I realized Gmail was down, and along with it, several emails with pointers to stories I had planned to look at for possible use today. But let’s talk about a different kind of cloud, for we still […]

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Black Hole Clues to Dark Matter

March 23, 2010

Yesterday’s look at black holes and their potential role in generating energy for advanced civilizations flows naturally into newly released work from Xavier Hernandez and William Lee (National Autonomous University of Mexico). The astronomers have been studying how dark matter behaves in the vicinity of black holes, simulating the way early galaxies would have interacted […]

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Black Holes, Starships and the Cosmos

March 22, 2010

by Adam Crowl Louis Crane’s work at Kansas State University caught my eye some time back, but I was uncomfortable trying to explain it when I knew polymath Adam Crowl had so much better insight into Crane’s thinking than I did. One thing led to another, and now we can get an overview of Crane’s […]

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A Problem with ‘Standard Candles’?

March 19, 2010

Type Ia supernovae have become important ‘standard candles’ in judging cosmic distances, telling us how far away the host galaxy of a given supernova is. The idea here is that this kind of supernova produces a consistent luminosity because the white dwarfs that explode in the process are of uniform mass. The Type Ia supernova […]

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Passing Stars and Interstellar Speculations

March 18, 2010

Watching how exoplanet news hits the press is always interesting, but I was surprised at how the discovery of CoRoT-9b (discussed here yesterday) was received. The scientific reward could be significant, which is why one scientist referred to the find as a ‘Rosetta stone,’ but the fact that we had a gas giant that was […]

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