March 2015

A Fresh Look at Rhea

March 31, 2015

When it comes to Saturn, have you noticed what’s been missing lately? Well, actually for the last two years. While the Cassini orbiter has had high-profile encounters with Titan, it has been in a high-inclination orbit that has meant no recent flybys of other Saturnian moons. All that has now changed as Cassini returned to […]

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An Alpha Centauri Bb Transit Search

March 30, 2015

Alpha Centauri continues to be a maddening and elusive subject for study. Two decades of radial velocity work on Centauri A and B have been able to constrain the possibilities — we’ve learned that there are no gas giants larger than Jupiter in orbits within 2 AU of either of the stars. But lower mass […]

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SETI Explores the Near-Infrared

March 27, 2015

This has been a week devoted to extraterrestrial technologies and the hope that, if they exist, we can find them. Large constructions like Dyson spheres, and associated activities like asteroid mining on the scale an advanced civilization might use to make them, all factor into the mix, and as we’ve seen, so do starships imagined […]

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Starship Detection: The K2 Perspective

March 26, 2015

‘Classical’ SETI, if I can use that term, is based on studying the electromagnetic spectrum primarily in the radio wavelengths thought most likely to be used for communication by an extraterrestrial civilization. SETI’s optical component is largely focused on searching for signals intended as communication. What is now being called Dysonian SETI is a different […]

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Our View of a Decelerating Magsail

March 25, 2015

Yesterday’s post looked at the question of starship detection. But the paper by Ulvi Yurtsever and Steven Wilkinson that I discussed actually focused on a highly specific subset of such observations, the case of an artificial object moving at such high gamma factors that the ship’s velocity was over 99 percent of the speed of […]

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Starship Observational Signatures

March 24, 2015

Now and again in relatively rarefied SETI discussions the topic of starship detection comes up. Specifically, if there were a starship moving through the interstellar medium in the general vicinity of our perch in the Orion Arm, would we be able to detect any sort of signature in our astronomical data? Centauri Dreams regular Al […]

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White Dwarfs and Dyson Spheres

March 23, 2015

There is a wonderful moment in Larry Niven’s 1970 novel Ringworld when protagonist Louis Wu is first shown an image of an artificial ring completely encircling a star. These days the concept of a Dyson sphere is well established as a way for a civilization to capture as much energy as possible from the host […]

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Large Exomoons Shown to Be Detectable

March 20, 2015

The search for sub-planetary scale features in other solar systems continues, with encouraging news from the Hunt for Exomoons with Kepler project. A moon around a distant exoplanet is a prize catch, but as we’ve also seen recently, scientists are weighing the possibilities in detecting exoplanetary ring systems (see Searching for Exoplanet Rings). Confirming either […]

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Chariklo & Chiron: Centaurs with Possible Rings

March 19, 2015

You may be forgiven if you aren’t familiar with the name Chariklo. Discovered in 1997, 10199 Chariklo is a ‘centaur,’ an outer system body with an orbit that moves between the orbits of Saturn and Uranus, just nudging the orbit of the latter. Its odd name (we’re big on names and their derivations here) comes […]

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Can We Find Exoplanets Using the Titius-Bode Relation?

March 18, 2015

The Titius-Bode law has always been a curiosity, one often attributed to little more than happenstance. But recently this numerological curiosity, which predicts that planets in a solar system appear with a certain ratio between their orbital periods, has been the subject of renewed investigation. Francois Graner (Ecole Normale Superieure, Paris) and Berengere Dubrulle (Observatoire […]

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