July 2008

Ontario Lacus: Awash on Titan

July 31, 2008

Remember those oceans of methane we thought might exist on Titan? They were an exciting thought (I recall hypothetical images of the Huygens probe bobbing in such an ocean at the end of its journey, before we knew what it would actually land on). It’s exciting to confirm that liquid does exist on Titan’s surface […]

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Possible Evidence for Dark Energy

July 30, 2008

If dark energy is accelerating the expansion of the universe, how can we identify its signature? Researchers at the University of Hawaii have been using microwaves to detect what they believe to be dark energy at work. If their work stands up, it will be a useful step for cosmology, but also a potential boon […]

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Detection Method for Binary Star Planets

July 29, 2008

Astrometry, using the position and motion of celestial objects to further astronomical research, is ever more useful in the study of extrasolar planets. If you can measure how much a given star is displaced by the presence of a planet, you have a valuable adjunct to existing radial velocity and transit methods. Now a new […]

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Betting on an Interstellar Future

July 28, 2008

Tibor Pacher has gone out on a limb. The founder of peregrinus interstellar and an active supporter of interstellar research, the Heidelberg-trained physicist (now a freelance software consultant) has made a wager on the Long Bets site that should raise eyebrows: “The first true interstellar mission, targeted at the closest star to the Sun or […]

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What Makes Us Explore?

July 26, 2008

Is the urge for exploration innate to our species, or is it a vestigial disorder? Rand Simberg takes on the question at The Space Review this week, an article I came across thanks to a link at Music of the Spheres, which hosts the latest Carnival of Space this week. If you have an interest […]

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New Planet: CoRoT’s Interesting Find

July 25, 2008

Finding transiting planets is no longer a surprise, and we can expect a host of transits from the CoRoT mission, which has the advantage of observing from a space-based platform. Moreover, CoRoT will, in the course of its lifetime, survey as many as 120,000 stars for up to five months. Driving home the advantage is […]

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A New Take on Warping Spacetime

July 24, 2008

For those of you who don’t see Spaceflight, a magazine published by the British Interplanetary Society, it may be useful to know that an article by Richard Obousy and Gerald Cleaver (Baylor University) on warp drive theory from the April issue is now available on the arXiv server. This material was presented at the November, […]

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Overlooked Nova Challenges Amateurs

July 23, 2008

How does a planet full of amateur and professional astronomers miss an exploding star that was one of the brightest novae in the past ten years? The fact that the event called V598 Puppis (the brightening of the star USNO-A2.0 0450-03360039) was only spotted days after its explosive appearance by an orbiting space observatory that […]

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Galactic Rims: News and a Reminiscence

July 22, 2008

The image below is striking enough that I would have run it even without the interesting story it tells about the presence of organic materials in Messier 101. Viewed at infrared wavelengths and color-coded, the Pinwheel galaxy’s spiral arms are visible, as is an outer zone, marked by a coral color, in which the organic […]

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Communicating with the Future

July 21, 2008

It dawned on me over the weekend that Centauri Dreams will soon enter its fifth year of operation, the anniversary being in mid-August. On Sunday I walked the neighborhood, musing over the changes the site has seen and thinking back to its inception. I realized that the actual germ of the idea goes back not […]

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