On Tuesday, renowned physicist Stephen Hawking presented his new theories on black holes to a gathering of esteemed scientists and members of the media at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. Hawking focused on something called the information paradox, an aspect of black holes that has been puzzling scientists for years. Basically, the paradox involves the fact that information about the star that formed a black hole seems to be lost inside it, presumably disappearing when the black hole inevitably disappears. However, according to how the universe works and what physicists believe, these things cannot be lost. But where does the information go when the black hole that’s absorbed goes down the drain?
The majority of exo-planets discovered are called “Super Jupiters.” They’re the most discovered because their great size contributes to the slight tug, or wobble, of the star they orbit–much like an Olympic athlete when competing in the hammer throw. And in this orbit, they’ll annually pass in front of their star, dimming the starlight output from our relative view, alerting us to its presence–like a bug flying in front of a lightbulb. Unlike most “Super-Jupiters,” which have the characteristics of very cool stars, 51 Eridani b is much more like a gas giant planet. It orbits its star about 13 times the diameter of Earth’s orbit around the Sun. The 51 Eridani system lies about 100 light years away.
We’ve been searching the stars and scanning the heavens for many years, trying to find another solar system that might be able to harbor life like our own. And through the years we’ve edged very close to finding similar planets to our home planet of Earth. Well, on July 23rd of this year, the Kepler Mission announced that it has discovered the closest thing to an Earth 2.0. It is Kepler 452b and it’s only 1,400 light-years away. Here’s the who, what, when, where and how of this new discovery.
July 15th was a historic occasion as it marked the first time we were able to see close-up pictures of Pluto’s surface. Traveling at over 30,000 mph, New Horizons snapped some very interesting pictures of the dwarf planet’s surface as it came within 47 thousand miles of it, beaming back to us details never before seen. What New Horizons captured for us was a first glimpse at mountain ranges and deposits of methane & nitrogen ice.
The first validated Earth-sized planet to orbit a star in the habitable zone, Kepler-186f, has been discovered. It beats out the current most potential candidate for a world with Earth-like life which went to Kepler-62f–a planet forty percent larger than Earth, yet still residing in its own habitable zone.
Hello from the Southeastern Planetarium Association. I’m currently at the SEPA 2015 and while I’m here I participated in a brief story-telling workshop where planetarians got together to share their favorite stories of the night sky. I chose to tell the story of the largest star ever observed (so far): UY Scuti.
For over six decades, scientists have speculated that there might be structures of plasma residing in the upper atmosphere of Earth, affecting civilian and military satellite-based navigation systems. Thanks to Australian researcher, Cleo Loi, this theory has been confirmed.
I’ve always imagined that one day I’d get home, turn on the news, and see this big developing news story that evidence of life beyond our solar system had been discovered. It’s typically the stuff of movies and comic books, but recently NASA’s chief scientist, Ellen Stofan, predicted that signs of alien life will be discovered by 2025 with even stronger evidence for extraterrestrials in the years that follow.
Democritus was the first to claim that the Milky Way consisted of distant stars, but it was William Herschel in 1785 that made the first map of the Milky Way. Herschel was the first to study and measure the distribution of stars in space, and when he counted the stars he came to a conclusion that they were grouped in a huge disk formation. It is believed that this disk–our Milky Way Galaxy–is about 100,000 light years from tip to tip; however, recent evidence may suggest that it could be about 50 percent larger than we initially ever thought.
Back in 2005, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft first revealed that Saturn’s moon, Enceladus, had active geologic activity. It discovered an icy spray issuing out of the moon’s southern polar region as well as temperatures in that region that were higher than expected. Currently, it is being suggested, that there also may be a 6-mile deep, 25 mile thick, ocean beneath the moon’s icy shell.