ADVERTISEMENT
  About the SA Blog Network

Posts Tagged "exoplanets"

@ScientificAmerican

Scientific American Tweet-Up at the American Museum of Natural History

You say you’d love a fun science evening? Great, here’s your chance. Scientific American will be co-hosting a tweet-up and reception in partnership with the American Museum of Natural History the evening of Wednesday, January 18. While we expand our minds, we’ll enjoy some cocktails and open access to the Beyond Planet Earth exhibit. Attendance [...]

Keep reading »
Life, Unbounded

The Copernicus Complex: A Primer

Nikolaus_Kopernikus

In a month’s time, the end result of two-and-a-half years of research, thinking, writing, re-writing, re-re-writing, editing, mulling, puzzling, coffee-drinking, beer-swilling, swearing, and tweaking will hit the shelves in the form of my new book The Copernicus Complex. In the coming weeks I’ll be writing some special pieces here at Life, Unbounded, exploring some of [...]

Keep reading »
Life, Unbounded

Copernicus in Cleveland

514px-Nikolaus_Kopernikus

What is our cosmic significance? Does it even make sense to ask a question like that? If you happen to find yourself in Cleveland, Ohio this coming Thursday evening, and stop by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History at 8pm you can catch me talking about this. As part of their Frontiers of Astronomy series [...]

Keep reading »
Life, Unbounded

So You Want To Be An Exozookeeper?

Kepler's tally of exoplanets (Credit: NASA Ames/SETI/J Rowe)

                  This week has seen the release of the latest set of ‘confirmed’ exoplanets from NASA’s Kepler mission. In total, 715 worlds have been added to the list of what are thought to be genuine Kepler planet detections (previously standing at 246). If you’re confused because you’ve [...]

Keep reading »
Life, Unbounded

Cosmic Solitude, Exoplanets, and Books

Credit: NASA

Earlier this week I had the very great pleasure of catching up with Lee Billings, the author of Five Billion Years of Solitude, a beautifully written and provocative new book about the quest to find other Earths, other life in the universe. If you haven’t read it, you should. The Strand Bookstore in New York [...]

Keep reading »
Life, Unbounded

The Great Martian Storm of ’71

(NASA)

                          On November 14th 1971 NASA’s Mariner 9 became the first spacecraft to successfully orbit another planet. Its video-camera imaging system powered up, and American scientists eagerly awaited the first detailed pictures of Mars since the flyby of Mariners 6 and 7 just [...]

Keep reading »
Life, Unbounded

Summer Astrobiology Roundup #3: The Ripening Of The Planets

IMG_0349

Although NASA’s planet hunting mission Kepler seems unlikely to return to a fully functioning state, after another reaction wheel failure, it has already yielded an extraordinary crop of new worlds. In fact, as well as finding many remarkable individual systems (from those orbiting binary stars to those laden down with planets), Kepler has provided a [...]

Keep reading »
Life, Unbounded

Diary Of An Exhausted Scientist

Captured June 5th, the cure for cosmic angst and fatigue (C. Scharf)

I swore I’d never do this, indeed, I’m on record in these very pages as having disparaged the kind of thing I’m about to do. Oh well. All I can say is that normal service will be resumed as soon as possible. Which will be a good thing, because a huge number of interesting and [...]

Keep reading »
Life, Unbounded

Humans Bring On Many Changes, Most Are Far From Painless

What happens in Vegas apparently spreads from Vegas....

From atmospheric changes, to timelapse imagery from Google Earth…our planetary presence is hard to miss. This past week has seen the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in Earth’s atmosphere reach a level of 400 parts-per-million, a value the planet hasn’t seen since several million years ago. To put this into some kind of context let’s [...]

Keep reading »
Life, Unbounded

Plant Life Floods Earth’s Atmosphere

629px-Cloud_forest_mount_kinabalu

A new study estimates that 80 to 90 percent of the atmospheric water vapor originating from Earth’s continents comes from plant transpiration rather than simple physical evaporation. This process uses up almost half of the solar energy absorbed by our landmasses and represents a major piece of our terrestrial climate system. There may be implications [...]

Keep reading »
Life, Unbounded

First Reconnaissance Of An Exoplanetary System

HR 8799

Using cutting edge techniques, a team of astronomers has directly imaged a distant system of four planets, and made history by obtaining simultaneous spectra of these worlds. This first comparative look reveals that the objects each have distinct atmospheric compositions, none of which directly match any previously known class of astrophysical body.     Only [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Twin Earth May Be Better Than Earth for Life

kepler world

Pseudo-Earths are out there. That’s the message of today’s exciting announcement that a planet about the same size as Earth lives in its star’s habitable zone—the temperate region around a star where liquid water might flow. “For me, the impact is to prove that such planets really do exist,” said David Charbonneau, an astronomer at [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Live Chat at Noon Today on Dreams of Other Worlds and NASA’s Next Mars Mission

Robotic exploration of space is fascinating, complex and quite important to our understanding of the universe. To learn more about how scientists and engineers overcome challenges of robotic space exploration for successful data collection, join us for a live chat today (Tuesday, October 29) at noon EDT with Chris Impey, astronomer and author of Dreams of [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Besides Higgs, Who Might Get the Physics Nobel?

Artist's impression of the planet around Alpha Centauri B

Tomorrow’s Nobel Prize in physics is widely anticipated to go to Peter Higgs, perhaps along with Francois Englert, for their nearly 50-year-old prediction of a new particle that we now call the Higgs boson. Last year’s discovery of the Higgs was one of the most important events in physics in recent decades; surely Higgs and [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Why It Is Impossible to Pinpoint the 1,000th Exoplanet

Credit: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech

The list of known exoplanets is growing so long, so fast, that it is becoming difficult to properly appreciate the new discoveries. For those of us who grew up when our solar system accounted for the only nine worlds known in the entire universe, how are we to grasp the fact that astronomers now discover [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

50 Years Ago an Astronomer Discovered the First Unambiguous Exoplanet (or So He Thought)

Barnard

In April 1963, at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Tucson, Ariz., Peter van de Kamp made what should have been a landmark announcement. By tracking the motion of a dim, nearby star across the night sky, he had uncovered an unseen object tugging ever so slightly on the star and perturbing its [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

NASA’s Kepler Mission Endangered by Hardware Failure

NASA

The prolific planet-hunting spacecraft that has already discovered some of the most intriguing exoplanets known has abruptly lost the capacity to carry out its mission, NASA officials announced May 15. NASA’s Kepler spacecraft, which launched in 2009, relies on an array of flywheels, or reaction-wheel assemblies, to stabilize the pointing of its telescope toward a [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Planet Naming Rights Not for Sale, Says International Astronomical Union

Artist

Astronomy has a branding problem. It’s an incredibly exciting time for the field, as astronomers are turning up planets orbiting distant stars by the cosmic boatload. But the planets themselves carry dreary names that only a bureaucrat could love. Even the most-studied, best-known planets have names like 51 Pegasi b, HD 209458 b and Alpha [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Beautiful Video Imagines the Thousands of Known Exoplanets Orbiting a Single Star

LONG BEACH, Calif.—Yesterday I wrote about the excitement at the American Astronomical Meeting here about new exoplanet discoveries. Scientists working on the Kepler satellite announced the discovery of an additional 461 planet candidates, bringing the total to 2,740. What are these planets like? Alex Parker, a postdoctoral researcher in planetary science at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Massive Planets Might Escape Stellar Engulfment Largely Undiminished

exoplanets, red giant, stellar evolution

Having your planet swallowed by a star is no fun. But some planets might be able to run the astrophysical gauntlet and make it through more or less intact. When a star comparable to or somewhat larger than the sun enters advanced age, it swells up into a red giant, expanding far beyond its original [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Exoplanet Hunters Get a Technology Boost in Search for Earth-like Planets

laser frequency comb for detecting exoplanets

The European Southern Observatory already has one of the world’s best planet-hunting tools in the HARPS spectrograph. Installed at the 3.6-meter La Silla telescope in Chile, HARPS is an instrument that can detect the extremely subtle wobbles in a star’s motion that may be induced by the gravitational pull of an orbiting planet. But the [...]

Keep reading »

More from Scientific American

Scientific American Special Universe

Get the latest Special Collector's edition

Secrets of the Universe: Past, Present, Future

Order Now >

X

Email this Article

X