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Extrasolar Life
Arecibo. World's largest dish, radio telescope. Puerto Rico.
Viewed: 2512 times
Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite image of Earth on the infrared channel, emphasizing thermal emissions and temperature differences rather than the visible light reflected one normally associates with oceanic and continental differences. The dark central area is a relatively humid zone of water vapor.
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Soviet Venera 13 lander which parachuted to the Venusian surface on March 1, 1982
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Hubble Deep Field. One of humanity's most distant optical views of the Universe. What the Universe looked like in the extreme past, perhaps less than one billion years after the Big Bang.
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A Triple-Planet System Orbiting Ups Andromedae. The Andromeda constellation, approximately 15 degrees wide x 20 degrees tall.
Upsilon Andromedae is 10 degrees East (1/2 image width to the left) of the
Andromeda Galaxy.
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Humanity's effort to send a message in a bottle for cosmic posterity. NASA's Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft are now over 10 billion kilometers from the Sun. 12-inch gold plated copper disk containing recorded sounds and images representing human cultures and life on Earth.
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Earth as seen for its biological methane. A warming gas like carbon dioxide, its balance can drive temperatures to hot Venus or radiation-thin Mars depending on how industrial and agricultural influences on the planet are managed.
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Stars with planets (red dots) found distributed across the celestial sky map shown with constellation locations.
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This infrared Hubble Space Telescope view may contain the first ever direct image of a planet (lower left) outside our own solar system. The picture shows a very young double star located about 450 light-years away toward the constellation of Taurus. Cataloged as TMR-1 (Taurus Molecular Ring star 1
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Continuous pressure from sunlight would ultimately accelerate a large solar sail to speeds about five times higher than possible with conventional rockets -- without requiring any fuel. Using the same particle pressure that extends comet tails and shapes the earth's magnetosphere are driven by the radiation pressure from the solar fusion reactions of heavy hydrogen to helium.
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1997 Mars Pathfinder reveals the stunning landscape of a Martian day.
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Earthshine. The reflected light from the moon of the earth gives astronomers a unique look at how a distant observer might detect life on earth, from the balance of elements (oxygen, water, ozone) and various colorful spectra of the blue marble.
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Earthrise from afar. For the distant observer, the earth's biological potential seems apparent to our trained eyes used to looking for oceans, atmospheric moisture and habitable regions. Apollo 8 crew shot from the lunar orbit.
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VLA or very large array for radio astronomers. Each of the 27 radio telescopes in the Very Large Array (VLA) is the size of a house and can be moved on train tracks. Tres Montosas, New Mexico, USA
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Omega Centauri. About 10 million stars orbit the center, the largest ball of stars in our galaxy
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Angry solar flare and prominence. Continuous pressure from sunlight would ultimately accelerate a large solar sail to speeds about five times higher than possible with conventional rockets -- without requiring any fuel. Using the same particle pressure that extends comet tails and shapes the earth's magnetosphere are driven by the radiation pressure from the solar fusion reactions of heavy hydrogen to helium.
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Arecibo message, Frank Drake, communicating heiroglyphic characters of our society, culture and science.
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Dawn shot of the 70m antenna at Goldstone, California.
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Kepler telescope
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Dimitar Sasselov, professor of astronomy at Harvard University. Credit: Harvard News Office
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Illustration of the possible formation process and present day structure of the planetary system around HD 68930. The three planets form from embryos originally located at larger distances (dashed ellipses) than the present ones (indicated by solid ellipses at 0.07, 0.18 and 0.63 the mean Earth-Sun distance). The embryos of the inner and middle planets start interior to the ice line, so that these two planets build up from rocky planetesimals and gas. The two planets consist of a central rocky core (in brown) and an envelope of gas (in gray). The embryo of the outermost planet starts beyond the ice line, and the planet accumulates a large amount of ice at the beginning of its formation. The planet finally consists of a central rocky core (brown), surrounded by a shell of water (ice or liquid - in blue), and a quite massive gas envelope (gray). Credit: ESO
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The HARPS radial velocity measurements of HD 69830 are folded with the orbital periods of the three discovered planets: 8.67, 31.6 and 197 days, respectively. In each case, the contribution of the two other planets has been subtracted. The solid line shows the best fit to the measurements, corresponding to minimum masses of 10.2, 11.8 and 18.1 Earth masses. Note that the full span of the vertical axis is only 13 m/s! Error bars indicate the accuracy of the measurements. The integration time was 4 minutes on average for the first 18 measurements (shown as open dots), and was increased to 15 minutes for the remaining points (full dots). The latter measurements are therefore of much higher quality.
Credit: ESO
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Planetary System Around HD 69830 (Artist's Impression) Credit: ESO
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Planetary System Around HD 69830 (Artist's Impression) This image is taken from a point of view inside the asteroid belt, which is assumed here to lie between the two outermost planets.
Credit: ESO
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Stockholm, Sweden -- the site of the first Nordic Astrobiology conference in 2006. Photo Credit: Leslie Mullen
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Pascale Ehrenfreund, of Leiden University in the Netherlands. Photo credit: Leslie Mullen
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Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons. Credit: NASA/CalTech
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origin of life montage. Credit: European Space Agency
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Habitable zones for different types of stars, with our solar system as an example.
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The Hubble Space Telescope has allowed astronomers to study atmospheric
layering on a giant planet far away from our Solar System.
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The planet HD 209458b is shown here to scale with Jupiter and our Sun.
The atmospheric structure of HD 209458b is outlined according to the
data gathered with Hubble.
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A mysterious red glow that is present throughout the Milky Way and other galaxies could be due to very unusual, nano-sized, carbon and hydrogen rich particles made of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
Credit: NASA
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In the process of photosynthesis, plants convert energy from the sun
into chemical energy in the form of glucose, or sugar. The chlorophyll
in plants absorbs more blue and red light from sunlight, and less green
light. Chlorophyll is green, because it reflects green light more than
blue and red light.
Credit: NASA Ames
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This SeaWiFS satellite image shows chlorophyll (which indicates ocean
plants) in the Earth's oceans. The Normalized Difference Vegetation
Index (NDVI) measures the amount and health of plants on land, while
chlorophyll a measurements indicate the amount of phytoplankton in the
Credit: SeaWiFS Project, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, and ORBIMAGE
Viewed: 2878 times

The Hertzsprung-Russell diagram developed by 2 astronomers in 1912,
plots some of the characteristics of a large number of stars. They
plotted spectral class vs. luminosity (brightness) of a large sample of
stars. Our Sun's luminosity is 3.9 x 1026 Joules/s. The plot spans a
large range in luminosity from a fraction of our Sun's brightness (0.01
times) to (10,000 times) much greater the strength of our Sun.
Credit: NASA
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Three simulated planets - one as bright as Jupiter, one half as bright
as Jupiter and one as faint as Earth - stand out plainly in this image
created from a sequence of 480 images captured by the High Contrast
Imaging Testbed at JPL. The asterisk marks the location of the system's
simulated star.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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An infrared view of the Rosette nebula, with danger zones highlighted.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Ariz.
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The core of HD 149026b makes up a much larger percentage of the planet's
mass than experts would have expected prior to the planet's discovery.
Credit: Greg Laughlin, UC Santa Cruz
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Researchers measured the temperature of HD 149026b to be 3700 degrees
Fahrenheit. However, the side of the planet that faces away from its
host star could potentially be very cold.
Credit: Gregory Laughlin
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The Enterprise orbiting the fictitious planet Vulcan. (Star Trek images
courtesy STARTREK.COM, Copyright 2007 CBS Studios Inc.)
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The red dwarf star Gliese 581 is among the 100 closest stars to us,
located only 20.5 light-years away in the constellation Libra ("the
Credit: ESO Online Digitized Sky Survey
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This artist's impression shows the Gliese 581 system, including the
Earth-like planet Gliese 581c.
Credit: ESO
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An artist's impression of the MOST space telescope. MOST is a
suitcase-sized microsatellite developed by the Canadian Space Agency,
and is designed to study stars and extrasolar planets by measuring small
light variations that are undetectable from the Earth's surface.
Credit: Canadian Space Agency
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With more hydrogen and helium and less carbon, nitrogen and oxygen, Jupiter's composition is more like the Sun than other Gas Giants.

Credit: NASA
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Resonant effects can be clearly seen in the radial distribution of the asteroids. Some orbital resonances are destabilizing, creating minima in the distribution, called "Kirkwood gaps," after Daniel Kirkwood, the astronomer who first recognized them. The main asteroid belt is bounded by the 4:1 and 2:1 orbital resonances with Jupiter. The stable 3:2 and 1:1 resonances account, respectively, for the Hilda family asteroids and Jupiter Trojans. One astronomical unit is the Earth-Sun distance. (Distribution of asteroids courtesy of the Minor Planet Center.)
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The main asteroid belt, situated in the broad region betweeen the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, contains countless rocky bodies (white points in diagram). The Trojan asteroids (pink) can survive outside this belt because they are locked in a 1:1 orbital resonance with Jupiter, which keeps them spaced safely about 60 degrees ahead or behind that giant planet in its orbit. For clarity, only asteroids larger than about 50 kilometers are plotted here. A space-probe image of the near-Earth asteroid Eros (above) gives a sense of what most asteroids probably look like. Eros is about 30 kilometers long, much too small for its gravity to make it spherical. (Diagram courtesy of the Minor Planet Center; image courtesy of NASA/Johns Hopkins University
Applied Physics Laboratory.)
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Numerical simulations conducted by Jacques Laskar revealed that the maximum orbital eccentricity of the inner planets changes considerably over time. Thus over billions of years, each planet would cut a broad swath (colored bands) around its mean orbit (white lines). Indeed, Mercury´ orbital eccentricity can, in principle, become large enough that it risks collision with Venus. Although the orbits of other terrestrial planets will never cross in this way, they largely fill the inner solar system when one considers their long-term variations. (Adapted from Laskar 1996.)
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Stable resonances are evident in the distribution of small bodies in the outer solar system (above). The Neptune Trojans, objects
in a 1:1 resonance with that planet, orbit some 30 astronomical units from the Sun. Reaching farther out are the orbits of the Kuiper-belt objects, including Pluto and the many "plutinos" (which share a stabilizing 2:3 resonance with Neptune) and objects locked into 3:4 and 1:2 resonances. Some of the plutinos (pink points at left) and other
Kuiper-belt objects (white) are currently located within the orbit of Neptune. Transient comets and scattered Kuiper-belt objects are not shown for clarity. (Plan view courtesy of the Minor Planet Center.)
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Numerical simulation reveals how the inner part of a planet-forming disk evolves. Initially, such a disk is composed of numerous planetesimals in near-circular (low-eccentricity)
orbits (top). Within a few million years, orbital eccentricities grow to appreciable size for most of the smaller bodies, and planetary embryos form as smaller objects coalesce. As time goes on, the smaller bodies are swept up or scattered away, leaving a few planets in low-
eccentricity orbits (bottom). (Adapted from Chambers 2001.)
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