Tag Archives: astronomer

Our turbulent sun

UD physicist helps explain characteristics of swirling solar wind

Just a few hundred yards from the house where Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) lived in Arcetri for the last nine years of his life, the University of Delaware’s William Matthaeus is working to further the world’s understanding of the heliosphere – the big bubble of magnetism that holds the solar system together – and especially its turbulent nature. (more…)

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Companion planets can increase old worlds’ chance at life

Having a companion in old age is good for people — and, it turns out, might extend the chance for life on certain Earth-sized planets in the cosmos as well.

Planets cool as they age. Over time their molten cores solidify and inner heat-generating activity dwindles, becoming less able to keep the world habitable by regulating carbon dioxide to prevent runaway heating or cooling. (more…)

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Astronomers Find Sun’s ‘Long-Lost Brother,’ Pave Way for Family Reunion

AUSTIN, Texas — A team of researchers led by astronomer Ivan Ramirez of The University of Texas at Austin has identified the first “sibling” of the sun — a star almost certainly born from the same cloud of gas and dust as our star. Ramirez’s methods will help astronomers find other solar siblings, which could lead to an understanding of how and where our sun formed, and how our solar system became hospitable for life. The work appears in the June 1 issue of The Astrophysical Journal.

“We want to know where we were born,” Ramirez said. “If we can figure out in what part of the galaxy the sun formed, we can constrain conditions on the early solar system. That could help us understand why we are here.” (more…)

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Study: Greenhouse gas might have warmed early Mars enough to allow liquid water

The mystery of how the surface of Mars, long dead and dry, could have flowed with water billions of years ago may have been solved by research that included a University of Washington astronomer.

There is evidence that Mars had water at its surface 3.8 billion years ago or before, but scientists are divided on how that might have happened, especially since the sun was about 30 percent fainter back then, thus less able to melt water ice on Mars. (more…)

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Could a Milky Way Supernova Be Visible from Earth in Next 50 Years?

Advances in cameras, new strategies for detection make it possible

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Astronomers at The Ohio State University have calculated the odds that, sometime during the next 50 years, a supernova occurring in our home galaxy will be visible from Earth.

The good news: they’ve calculated the odds to be nearly 100 percent that such a supernova would be visible to telescopes in the form of infrared radiation. (more…)

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‘Witch Head’ Brews Baby Stars

A witch appears to be screaming out into space in this new image from NASA’s Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE. The infrared portrait shows the Witch Head nebula, named after its resemblance to the profile of a wicked witch. Astronomers say the billowy clouds of the nebula, where baby stars are brewing, are being lit up by massive stars. Dust in the cloud is being hit with starlight, causing it to glow with infrared light, which was picked up by WISE’s detectors.

The Witch Head nebula is estimated to be hundreds of light-years away in the Orion constellation, just off the famous hunter’s knee. (more…)

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Hubble spots azure blue planet

Astronomers from the University of Exeter using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope along with an international team of researchers have, for the first time, determined the true colour of a planet orbiting another star.

If seen up close this planet, known as HD 189733b, would be a deep cobalt blue, reminiscent of Earth’s colour as seen from space.

But that’s where the similarities end. This deep blue dot is a huge gas giant orbiting very close to its host star. The planet’s atmosphere is scorching with a temperature of over 1000 degrees Celsius, and it rains glass, sideways, in howling 7000 kilometre-per-hour winds. (more…)

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Star with flare

NASA telescope provides insights into unusual dwarf star

Astronomer John Gizis of the University of Delaware, working with data obtained by NASA’s Kepler telescope, is studying a highly unusual dwarf star and its powerful flares that may hold clues to the likelihood of life on other planets as well as to the behavior of our sun.

Gizis, associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, discovered the star two years ago using a ground-based telescope and now has conducted additional research using Kepler observations over the past two years. (more…)

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