February 2017

A Volcanic View of the Habitable Zone

February 28, 2017

Our understanding of habitable zones is a work in progress, but the detection of multiple planets with potentially water-bearing surfaces around TRAPPIST-1 is heartening. Today we examine the prospect of extending the habitable zone further out from the host star than previously thought possible. The idea is found in new work by Ramses Ramirez and […]

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The (Potentially) Habitable Worlds of TRAPPIST-1

February 27, 2017

When the news about the seven planets of TRAPPIST-1 broke, I immediately wondered what Andrew LePage’s take on habitability would be. A physicist and writer with numerous online essays and a host of articles in magazines like Scientific American and Sky & Telescope, LePage is also a specialist in the processing and analysis of remote […]

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SPECULOOS: Nearby Red Dwarfs

February 24, 2017

Let’s turn the clock back a bit on the TRAPPIST-1 discoveries with a reminder of Hubble work on this system announced last July. A team led by Julien de Wit (MIT) used the Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3 to look for atmospheres on TRAPPIST-1b and 1c, two of the three planets then known […]

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Further Thoughts on TRAPPIST-1

February 23, 2017

In yesterday’s news conference on the seven planets around TRAPPIST-1, exoplanet scientist Sara Seager (MIT) pointed to the discovery as accelerating our search for habitable worlds. “Goldilocks,” Seager said in a finely chosen turn of phrase, “has many sisters in this system.” I think she’s exactly correct, even though we don’t yet know if any […]

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Seven Planets around TRAPPIST-1

February 22, 2017

The red dwarf known as TRAPPIST-1 could not have produced a more interesting scenario. Today we learn that the star, some 40 light years out in the constellation Aquarius, hosts seven planets, all of which turn out to be comparable to the Earth in terms of size. Moreover, these worlds were discovered through the transit […]

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Exoplanet News Conference

February 22, 2017

You’ll want to see the news conference scheduled by NASA at 1300 EST (1800 UTC) today, an exoplanet finding of considerable interest to Centauri Dreams readers (I’ll have more on this later in the day). The event will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website. Links available here. Briefing participants: * Thomas Zurbuchen, […]

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Interstellar Conference News

February 21, 2017

Registration is now open for the 2017 Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop, which will be held in Huntsville, AL on October 4-6. The title for this year’s conference is “Step By Step: Building a Ladder to the Stars.” The registration page is here, and if you’re thinking of attending, I recommend registering right away, as spaces […]

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Martian Civilization

February 17, 2017

What kind of civilization might eventually emerge on Mars? Colonies of various kinds have been examined in science fiction for decades, but as we close in on the possibility of actual human arrival on the planet, perhaps in the 2030s, we can wonder how living on a different world will change the people who eventually […]

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Deep Space Projects for Citizen Scientists

February 16, 2017

I’m always interested in ways readers can dig directly into data from our telescopes, and this morning I can point to two. I’ll begin with the Lick Carnegie Exoplanet Survey, which has just released 60,949 precision Doppler velocities for 1,624 stars. The data draw on observations using HIRES (the High Resolution Echelle Spectrometer) on the […]

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Stellar Pulsations Induced by Planet

February 15, 2017

It’s no surprise that planets can affect the stars they orbit. We’ve used that fact for several decades now, relying on radial velocity studies that showed the movement of a star toward us and then away again as it was tugged on by the planet under investigation. But now we’re hearing about another kind of […]

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