Kepler mission finds three Smallest Exoplanets

Three Smallest Exoplanets

Astronomers announced today that they found three new planets outside our solar system, that they are the smallest exoplanets yet discovered—each of them tinier than Earth.

By |January 13, 2012|Categories: Astronomy

Dumbbell Nebula

M27 Dumbbell planetary nebula

Charles Messier was compiling a list of diffuse objects not to be confused with comets. The 27th object on Messier’s list, now known as M27 or the Dumbbell Nebula, is a planetary nebula, the type of nebula our Sun will produce when nuclear fusion stops in its core.  image credit Bill Snyder

By |January 6, 2012|Categories: Astronomy

The Cosmic Energy Inventory

Cosmic Energy Inventory

Now that the old year has drawn to a close, it’s traditional to take stock. And why not think big and take stock of everything there is.

By |January 4, 2012|Categories: Astronomy, Physics

Twin GRAIL spacecraft orbiting the Moon

Twin GRAIL spacecraft

GRAIL-A spacecraft achieved Lunar Orbit Insertion on New Year’s Eve.
Artists concept shows twin GRAIL spacecraft orbiting the Moon. The twin GRAIL spacecraft will fly in tandem to map the moon’s gravity field with unprecedented precision to unlock hidden secrets about the moons interior composition, determine if it possesses an inner core, and yield a better understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed. Credit: NASA

By |January 4, 2012|Categories: Astronomy

Should we Terraform Mars?

Terraforming Mars

As we continue to explore farther out into our solar system and beyond, the question of habitation or colonization inevitably comes up. Manned bases on the Moon or Mars for example, have long been a dream of many.  via Universetoday by Paul Scott Anderson.

By |January 2, 2012|Categories: Astronomy

Fastest Rotating Star found

Star  VFTS 102 in Large Magellanic Cloud

This artist’s concept pictures the fastest rotating star found to date. The massive, bright young star, called VFTS 102, rotates at a million miles per hour, or 100 times faster than our sun does.

By |January 2, 2012|Categories: Astronomy

Best of Astronomy 2011

The year of exoplanets. The Kepler space observatory to discover Earth-like planets orbiting other stars. The spacecraft, named in honor of the 17th-century German astronomer Johannes Kepler,was launched in March 2009.

Kepler-22b, First Alien Planet In Habitable zone

First Alien Planet In Habitable zone

This artist’s conception illustrates Kepler-22b, a planet known to comfortably circle in the habitable zone of a sun-like star. It is the first planet that NASA’s Kepler mission has confirmed to orbit in a star’s habitable zone — the region around a star where liquid water, a requirement for life on Earth, could persist

By |December 31, 2011|Categories: Astronomy

Orange and Blue Hazes

Saturn's largest moon, Titan

This view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft looks toward the south polar region of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, and shows a depression within the moon’s orange and blue haze layers near the south pole.

By |December 31, 2011|Categories: Astronomy

Ring of Fire

spiral galaxy NGC 4151

This composite image shows the central region of the spiral galaxy NGC 4151. X-rays (blue) from the Chandra X-ray Observatory are combined with optical data (yellow) showing positively charged hydrogen (H II) from observations with the 1-meter Jacobus Kapteyn Telescope on La Palma.

By |December 28, 2011|Categories: Astronomy

Comet Lovejoy from International Space Station (video)

Comet Lovejoy near Earth’s horizon

Comet Lovejoy on 22 Dec. 2011 from the International Space Station. Comet Lovejoy is visible near Earth’s horizon in this nighttime image photographed by NASA astronaut Dan Burbank, Expedition 30 commander, on board the International Space Station on Dec. 22, 2011. Credit: NASA/Dan Burbank

By |December 27, 2011|Categories: Astronomy
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