Deep Space

  • Planet Swapping
    Could a passing star exchange planets with our own Sun? Computer simulations suggest that a glancing blow might contribute far outer planets following star disk collisions.
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  • Earthlings’ Low Signal-to-Noise?
    Our most efficient attempts to broadcast our planet's existence to another civilization would resemble the thermal radiation emitted by stars. By analogy, more advanced worlds would likely do the same, making our chances of listening in hard to distinguish from hearing stellar noise.
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  • The Search for Ourselves in the Cosmos
    Our senses alone offer only a narrow window on the physical universe, as Neil deGrasse Tyson writes in his four-part NOVA/PBS series, "Origins". The tour de force looks at how we measure our place in the universe based on the part of the universe
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  • Dust to Rocky Planets
    New observations reveal how pristine, primordial dust aggregates to form rocky planets around other stars. One question astronomers would like to answer is how common such Earth-like planets are and whether solar system formation proceeds routinely around other stars.
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  • The Origin of Life on Earth
    Neil deGrasse Tyson, author and host of the NOVA series, "Origins, Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution", gives a galvanizing tour of the cosmos revealing what the universe has been up to while turning part of itself into us.
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  • Advancing the Webb
    The Webb Space Telescope is one of the next generations observatories that will reside near the balance point (L2) between the Earth and Sun.
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  • SWIFT to Unravel Energetic Flashes
    When the SWIFT detector looks at the sky using its gamma-ray sensitive view, the chance to unravel the cause of the most energetic stellar events may become possible.
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  • The Planet that Shouldn’t Be
    Theories of planet formation have certain prerequisites: the solar system that hosts the planet should be of a certain age, temperature and size. For planet hunters, the outliers may present some of the most interesting candidates. One such Neptune-class planet seems to defy the rules.
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  • Where Cosmic Rays Come From
    A century-old mystery is the origin of cosmic rays. Viewing a supernova remnant with high energy detectors, or gamma-ray eyes, shows that particles are likely accelerated by such massive explosions. Cosmic rays are thought to have played a major role in the early Earth's evolution
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  • Marketing to the Mothership
    It is sometimes said that the best form of advertising is education. But what products would our global marketplace tolerate at the borders of an encounter with another, perhaps far different civilization? To get some perspective, an expert entertains the question of how to advertise
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  • Planet Building: Colliding Mountains
    How is a planet built? The standard model assumes aggregation of fine stellar dust, but observations using the infrared Spitzer telescope now suggest that mountain-sized aggregates collide to make new worlds.
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  • Worlds in Collision
    Planet-building is a violent, messy process. Observations made with the Spitzer Space Telescope indicate this process may last much longer than previously thought.
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  • Stellar Night-Goggles
    The recent discovery of a possible visible exoplanet has refocused efforts to understand their companion stars, now thought to be brown dwarfs. This category is best studied in the mid-infrared range which is relatively unavailable from today's surveys.
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  • Extrasolar Planets: A Matter of Metallicity
    The 130 extrasolar planets discovered so far are in solar systems very different from our own, in which life-bearing planets like Earth are unlikely to exist. But an obscure characteristic of these planets and their stars has led astronomers to predict that our galaxy is
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  • Galactic Dead Zone
    At the center of the Milky Way may lie the most fertile star forming region, but the bust-boom cycle of star birthing can hinder what might be considered any real biological fertility.
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