September 2016

Time Out

September 26, 2016

No Centauri Dreams posts this week — I’ll be back next Monday. I’ve been running hard and it’s time for a break. I’ll keep up with comment moderation as best I can, though I’m going to be trying to catch up with many long overdue commitments outside the interstellar field in coming days. As always, […]

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Circumbinary Planet Found in Microlensing Data

September 23, 2016

A circumbinary planet is one that orbits two stars, and to date we haven’t found many of them. Word of a new detection comes from an event observed back in 2007 during a microlensing study called OGLE — Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment. OGLE is a Polish undertaking designed to study dark matter using gravitational microlensing, […]

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Stormy ‘Space Weather’ for M-dwarf Planets?

September 22, 2016

Proxima Centauri b, that highly interesting world around the nearest star, is about 0.05 AU out from its primary. The figure leaps out to anyone new to red dwarf stars, because it’s so very close to the star itself, well within the orbit of Mercury in our own system. But these are small, dim stars […]

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Assessing the Asteroid Factor

September 21, 2016

I’ve always thought that the biggest driver for our next steps in space is the presence of asteroids. Asteroids affect us in two powerful ways, the first being that they are sources of potential wealth for companies like Deep Space Industries and Planetary Resources, as commercial operations use robotics and eventually humans to extract water […]

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A Rapidly Disintegrating Comet

September 20, 2016

Comet 332P/Ikeya-Murakami has had a short but colorful history in our observations. First detected in 2010 by two amateur astronomers in Japan, the comet has been spinning off debris at least since 2015 and probably earlier. A large fragment, as big as Comet 332P itself, may have broken off in 2012. Still close to the […]

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Puzzling Out Pluto’s X-Ray Emissions

September 19, 2016

The latest news from the Chandra X-Ray Observatory is that the spacecraft, 100 times more sensitive to X-ray sources than any previous X-ray telescope, has found that Pluto is emitting X-rays. This marks the first time we’ve detected X-rays from a Kuiper Belt object. In fact, until now, the previous most distant Solar System body […]

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Project Orion: A Nuclear Bomb and Rocket – All in One

September 16, 2016

Larry Klaes has been a part of Centauri Dreams almost since the first post. That takes us back to 2004, and while I didn’t have comments enabled on the site for the first year or so, I remember talking to Larry about my Centauri Dreams book by email. Ever since, this author and freelance journalist […]

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Looking at Gaia’s Sky

September 15, 2016

The European Space Agency’s Gaia satellite has delivered a catalog of more than a billion stars — 1142 million, to be more specific — as it continues the work of mapping our galaxy in three dimensions. To be sure, we can expect much more from Gaia, but the September 14 data release is a milestone, […]

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On Charon’s Unusual North Pole

September 14, 2016

Deep space exploration brings a surprise with each new destination. New Horizons made the point over and over again, and today we get word of new work on one of the mission’s discoveries, that dark red polar cap at the north of Pluto’s large moon Charon. Will Grundy (Lowell Observatory) and colleagues are behind the […]

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A Strong Case for TRAPPIST-1 Planets

September 13, 2016

TRAPPIST continues to be my favorite astrophysical acronym. Standing for Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope, the acronym flags a robotic instrument at the La Silla Observatory in Chile that is operated by the the Institut d’Astrophysique et Géophysique (University of Liège, Belgium) in cooperation with the Geneva Observatory. The name is a nod to […]

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