Deep Space

  • Infrared Telescope Lifts Off
    The fourth and final telescope from NASA's Great Observatory series successfully launched early Monday morning. The telescope will probe the universe with its infrared sensitive optics. The launch on a Delta Heavy Lift vehicle will place it in a solar orbit.
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  • Alpha and Omega: Part I
    How did the universe begin and how will it end? And perhaps, more importantly, how can we know? Science magazine writer, Charles Seife, has taken up this compelling question in his new book, Alpha and Omega. He discusses the findings of cosmologists in this two-part
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  • The Mystery of Standard Candles
    Few casual observers may appreciate the importance of a seemingly obscure type of stellar explosion, called a Type Ia supernova. Without these calibrations on astronomical distances, it would be much more difficult to gauge depth in the otherwise flat starfield of a telescope.
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  • Star Winks Back
    A star that has begun eclipsing every 48 days shows the remarkable time scales of stellar evolution. The eclipsing star may be 'winking', according to Harvard-Smithsonian astronomers, because of a protoplanetary disk that beckons a solar system coming of age.
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  • Star Bright: Part II
    In Part I of this article, the differences between typical stars, brown dwarfs and sub-brown dwarfs were discussed. Stars have a mass of 75 Jupiters or greater, brown dwarfs have a mass between 13 and 75 Jupiters, and sub-brown dwarfs are less than 13 Jupiter
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  • Star Bright: Part I
    Starlight aside, one way to distinguish between stars and planets is to have them weigh in. Stars need a hefty amount of mass to fuse hydrogen, while planets are mere dust motes in comparison. But over past few years, astronomers found planetary-mass objects
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  • Hotter Stars, Habitable Planets?
    Our solar system offers the best chances for life to evolve on its inner planets, but astronomers also wonder if a hotter star than ours might still sustain liquid water--and potential biology--for a more distant orbiting planet. If such a solar system can be triangulated
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  • Tiny Planet SIM
    The challenges of observing a tiny planet against the vast star background and the brightness of a parent sun has not discouraged planet finders. In the coming years, six new space-borne missions are slated for a closer look at the problem.
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  • Planets Need Heavy-Metal
    Astronomers have previously estimated that around five percent of stars may have planets, but a survey by Berkeley planet finders has refined this classification. If a star is rich in metals, particularly iron and other heavy metals, then it stands a remarkable one-in-five chance of
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  • Stellar Countdown Yields Skymap
    In March, three Berkeley scientists set out to double-check the most promising signals found so far from the world's largest distributed computing project, SETI@Home. Following up on what is an equivalent of a million years of computation (or CPU units), their skymap of interesting
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  • Inevitability Beyond Billions
    A sky survey by Anglo-Australian astronomers has put forward a new calculation for the number of stars in the visible universe. Their estimate is larger than the number of sand grains on Earth.
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  • Interview with Neville Woolf: Part II
    This is the second of a two-part interview with Neville Woolf, a Professor of Astronomy at the University of Arizona. Woolf is the principal investigator of one of the lead teams recently awarded a five-year grant by the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) to conduct astrobiology-related
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  • Interview with Neville Woolf
    This is the first of a two-part interview with Neville Woolf, a Professor of Astronomy at the University of Arizona. Woolf is the principal investigator of one of the lead teams recently awarded a five-year grant by the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) to conduct astrobiology-related
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  • Pulling Apart Galactic Taffy
    Using the Hubble and Hawaiian Keck Telescopes in tandem, astronomers have discovered a new class of star clusters. The star-rich regions have been called orphans, because they appear to be ripped by gravity from their parent galaxies.
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  • Cold Cosmic Grains
    The remnants of a giant supernova explosion in our own galaxy may have revealed the origin of how planets and dust first congealed. The supernova in Cassiopeia A is about 11,000 light-years from Earth.
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