Deep Space

  • Building Life from Star-Stuff
    If a planet or moon has only a slight rotational tilt, a tall mountain or crater rim can be forever bathed in sunlight. In 1994, NASA's Clementine mission found candidates for such "peaks of eternal light" on the moon's north and south poles.
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  • M Dwarfs: The Search for Life is On
    M-dwarf stars, much smaller, dimmer and cooler than stars like our sun, are by far the most common type of star in our galaxy. Yet scientists searching for life on other worlds have not shown much interest in M dwarfs. That's about to change.
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  • A Milky Way Bar Please
    With the help of NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, astronomers have conducted the most comprehensive structural analysis of our galaxy and have found tantalizing new evidence that the Milky Way is much different from your ordinary spiral galaxy.
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  • Solar System Forensics
    From chemical fingerprints preserved in primitive meteorites, scientists at UCSD have determined that the collapsing gas cloud that eventually became our sun was glowing brightly during the formation of the first material in the solar system more than 4.5 billion years ago.
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  • Dustiest Star Could Harbor Young Earth
    A relatively young star located about 300 light-years away is greatly improving our understanding of the formation of Earth-like planets.
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  • Dusty Dwarfs
    Every rule has an exception. One rule in astronomy, supported by considerable evidence, states that dust disks around newborn stars disappear in a few million years. Most likely, they vanish because the material has collected into full-sized planets.
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  • The Humble Space Telescope
    Canada's MOST telescope, no larger than a suitcase, has been dubbed "the humble space telescope." But despite its diminutive size, it has already begun to make a giant contribution to our understanding of extrasolar planets.
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  • Triple Sunsets
    A NASA-funded astronomer has discovered a world where the sun sets over the horizon, followed by a second sun and then a third. The new planet, called HD 188753 Ab, is the first known to reside in a classic triple-star system.
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  • A New Class of Planet?
    Last August, two groups of scientists announced the discovery of the smallest extrasolar planets found to date. But just what are these Neptune-size worlds? Are they gas giants, ice giants, or oversized Earths? Astronomer Alan Boss examines the possibilities.
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  • Exoplanets transit their star in this artist's impression.
    In the past decade, more than 130 extrasolar planets have been discovered. Almost all have been found using a technique that measures tiny changes in a star's radial velocity, the speed of its motion relative to Earth. Astronomer Alan Boss tells the story how the
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  • newplanet_art
    The existence of extrasolar planets has become common knowledge in the past decade. But in the mid-20th Century, the search for worlds orbiting other stars got off to a rocky start. Alan Boss, an astronomer with the Carnegie Institution of Washington, recounts the early
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  • New Planet, Largest Solid Core
    NASA researchers recently discovered the largest solid core ever found in an extrasolar planet, and their discovery confirms a planet formation theory.
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  • Early Black Holes Grew Up Quickly
    Which came first, galaxies or the supermassive black holes at their centre? Most cosmologists now think the two are inextricably linked, each depending on the other.
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  • The Stuff Stars are Made of
    Named after Harvard University astronomer Bart Bok, Bok globules may not be the most romantic sounding phrase in astronomy, but they are widely accepted as an important step in the formation of new stars. Now a team of astronomers reports examining ten globules to
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  • Planetary Rubble No Trouble
    Interstellar travelers might want to detour around the star system TW Hydrae to avoid a messy planetary construction site. Astronomer David Wilner of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and his colleagues discovered the gaseous protoplanetary disk surrounding TW Hydrae holds vast swaths of pebbles.
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