Exo Solar Systems

Kepler First Science

Posted By on Jan 4, 2010

This is the morning of Kepler. I’m currently sitting in a the Marriot Ballroom watching the speaker, William J Borucki (NASA/Ames) gear up to announcing planets. This amazing mission has been imaging the same rich stellar field over and over looking for planetary transits: the slight dimming of light from a star that comes from an orbiting planet passing between us and that distance star. After 20 minutes of gearing up, he...

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Resonating Worlds

Posted By on Jan 22, 2008

I want to start by saying the following story is drawn from a pre-print, and the planet I’m about to talk about has not yet been directly detected. This is just a really neat little paper that offers a new way to look at things. In a new pre-print over on arXive, astronomers Ignasi Ribas (ICE/CSIC-IEEC, Spain), Andreu Font-Ribera (ICE/CSIC-IEEC, Spain), and Jean-Philippe Beaulieu (IAP, France) announce they have found what may...

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In Search of Alien Air

Posted By on Oct 10, 2007

Looking for planets is a difficult task. Planets are physically small (compared to stars), physically faint (compared to stars), and are consistently located next really bright objects (those would be the stars). Looking at planets isn’t much different from looking at bats eating bugs in front of the largest spotlight you’ve ever seen. As the bats swarm in and out of the light, they eclipse a small amount of the spot...

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All that’s sorta new in Exoplanets

Posted By on May 29, 2007

Yesterday’s big afternoon press conference was all about exoplanets. The scientists took us on a tour de force of planet related press releases that went from little M stars and their tiny habitable zone, to a new press release on 28 planets, to planets found around sub-giant stars that were A-stars when they were on the main sequence. The catch was, while none of these stories had previously had related press releases, many of...

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There are certain questions and dreams that drive society in its quest for the stars. Is there life beyond the Earth? How (and when) will we reach other worlds? What will it take to reach other worlds with life? For a long time, astronomers thought that we were still a long time away from being able to find the type of planets a person can actually stand on. Until within just the past couple weeks, we had assumed that it would take a...

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Helix hides Comets in its Core

Posted By on Feb 14, 2007

It is easy in astronomy to lump different objects into specific groups. At the top-most level, there are stars, galaxies, planetary systems (including asteroids and comets), and dust-bunnies interstellar and intergalactic media (clouds and nebula). Looking a bit deeper, each of these categories can be nit-picked apart into more sub-categories. For instance, stars can be divided up by energy generation mechanism, or mass, or both. But,...

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