Deep Space

  • 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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  • Low Frequency Aliens
    A new type of radio telescope may aid in the search for extraterrestrial intelligent life. The LOFAR telescope could be used to detect signals directed toward Earth, and might even pick up 'leakage radiation' from radio and TV transmitters if they're being used by civilizations
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  • Searching the Sky for Aliens
    Plans are being developed to use new technology to search for possible extraterrestrial intelligence. Astronomers will scan a select portion of the sky where the likelihood of detecting signals from other worlds is thought to be more favorable.
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  • Small Planet, Small Star
    Astronomers have discovered the smallest yet observed extrasolar planet. The planet is only three times more massive than Earth, and has proven that low-mass stars may be good candidates for hosting Earth-like planets.
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  • Our Not-So-Special Sun
    The most comprehensive comparison of our sun with other stars has shown that there is nothing 'special' about the sun. The findings add weight to the idea that life could be common in the universe.
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