Tis the season for science fiction fun, but could we even tell if the universe around us was filled with galactic empires and rebel forces?
A United States federal agency is not necessarily the first place you think of when it comes to answering some of the deepest existential questions for our species.
Probably not, but just possibly yes. One of the reasons that the search for life elsewhere in the universe is so exciting is that it would take only one chance discovery, one lucky break, for all the walls to come tumbling down.
Astronomers hope that one day soon we’ll obtain a spectrum of light that might tell us whether or not an Earth-sized exoplanet harbors life.
Since quite early in the history of the discovery of planets around other stars it’s been apparent that the likelihood of certain types of planets around a star is related to the abundance of heavy elements in that system.
A gas giant orbiting a relatively nearby star rotates every eight hours, its spectrum reveals