Deep Space

  • 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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  • New Star-Type Stillborn
    When a binary star system starts to transfer mass, one of the twins may well win out, leaving its companion to occupy a strange region half way between a star and a planet. A new star-type of this sort has been found, which resembles the
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  • The Shape of Things to Come
    It will probe the dark ages before the era of re-ionization, and perhaps before the birth of the first stars. It will observe the formation of the first galaxies. It will map the web of neutral hydrogen that is spread across our universe, near and
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  • Pinhole Camera to Image New Worlds
    A University of Colorado study has embarked on demonstrating that new planets can be found with the help of an orbiting starshade. The method has been compared to building a giant pinhole camera in space.
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  • Coming Soon: “Good Jupiters”
    Most of the extrasolar planets discovered to date are gas giants like Jupiter, but their orbits are either much closer to their parent stars or are highly eccentric. Planet hunters are on the verge of confirming the discovery of Jupiter-size planets with Jupiter-like orbits.
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  • Galactic Construction Boom
    Imagine clusters that smash together thousands of galaxies and trillions of stars. Its energy would seem second only to the Big Bang itself. While inconceivable from the comfort of our planet, just such an event was witnessed near the constellation, Hydra, like two heads of
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  • High Carb Heaven
    From 26,000 light-years-- near the center of our galaxy-- comes a radio signal that can be interpreted as a cloud of sugar molecules, one key component of what might have assisted the development of life if transported on primordial comets.
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  • Mira Behind the Molecules
    Among the stellar class known as red giants, Mira stars provide seventy-five percent of our galaxy's molecules including water vapor. These red giants pulsate as fast as every few months to years with their brightness varying by ten times during a cycle.
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  • Headshake to SETI Headfake
    Did the famous screensaver, SETI@home, uncover the first strong evidence for an extraterrestrial signal? The SETI Institute's Seth Shostak discusses how hyperbole can misrepresent the last addition to a list of stellar candidates.
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  • First Visible Exoplanet?
    Faint, failed stars like brown dwarfs are borderline planets themselves, but the European Southern Observatory atop the Chilean mountains may have imaged what could be the first infrared view of an extrasolar planet.
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  • Sauron’s Eye
    The Cat's Eye Nebula was the first planetary nebula ever to be discovered but its complex gas layers give knots and jets like the Lord of the Ring's famous floating eye of Sauron.
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  • Giving Up the Galactic Ghost
    While a terrestrial view of a galaxy might disguise the turbulent, changing mergers that fuel their formation, a famous cluster called Stephan's Quintet shows that seemingly immutable stars are always in flux.
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  • ET: Send Mail, Don’t Phone
    If an extraterrestrial civilization wanted to maximize its chances of being discovered by another civilization, the best bet may not ride on radio waves. Instead Rutgers engineers make the case for a 'message in a bottle' SETI strategy.
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