Deep Space

  • The Little Bang
    New research shows that a distant exploding star could have triggered the formation of our solar system. The study is helping astrobiologists understand the conditions in which habitable planets might form.
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  • When Worlds Collide
    Astronomers have discovered that two terrestrial planets orbiting a distant star have recently suffered a violent collision. The new observation is unlike anything seen before, and sheds light on how interactions between planets can affect habitability.
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  • Our Mixed-Up Solar System
    Chemical studies of the comet Wild 2 are challenging views about the history and evolution of the solar system. Such studies could yield important clues about the early formation of the planets.
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  • Immigrant Sun
    New simulations show that stars like the sun can migrate great distances over time. The study may challenge the idea that galaxies have 'habitable zones' that are more suited for life than other areas.
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  • Photo of an Extrasolar Planet
    Astronomers have released the first picture of a potential extrasolar planet that orbits a sun-like star. The newly-imaged planet may alter our understanding of planetary formation.
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  • An Interstellar Mission Scenario
    Super-Earths, terrestrial planets many times the mass of Earth, have been discovered orbiting distant stars. In this essay, Ray Villard details a possible future expedition to visit one of these alien worlds in order to study the life that could exist there.
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  • Our Special Solar System
    For the first time, scientists have used large-scale computer simulations to model the formation of planetary systems from beginning to end. The study will help scientists understand the likelihood of habitable systems forming elsewhere in the universe.
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  • Twinkle, Twinkle, Alien Ocean
    Scientists propose to find water on alien planets by looking for the glint of starlight from distant oceans.
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  • First Contact
    In the past few years, astronomers have discovered super-Earths, terrestrial planets many times the mass of Earth, orbiting distant stars. In this essay, Ray Villard discusses how we could study life forms that may exist on those alien worlds.
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  • The Galactic Bar Scene
    A new study indicates that spiral galaxies, like the Milky Way, evolve in shape over time. The finding is providing important information about the history of our galaxy and the conditions in which our solar system may have formed.
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  • At the Edge of the Pinwheel
    A new infrared image has revealed the distribution of important organic molecules in a distant galaxy. The finding is providing information about molecules in space that could have played a role in the origin of life.
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  • Earth: An Alien World
    NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft has filmed the moon transiting Earth from 31 million miles away. The event is now being used to develop techniques for studying alien worlds.
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  • Rare Jupiters?
    Astronomers have found that fewer than 10 percent of the stars in the Orion Nebula have enough dust to make giant planets. The study suggests that our solar system may have been lucky to form a planet like Jupiter.
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  • Listening to Planets
    Scientists are beginning to understand radio emissions emitted by aurora on Earth. The new study will help future astronomers search for extrasolar planets by listening for the sounds they make.
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  • More SuperEarths Discovered
    Astronomers have announced a breakthrough in the field of extra-solar planets. They have identified 45 potential super-Earths,showing that these planets may be present around one out of every three solar-like stars.
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