Caution! Do not cross this line... (NASA/ESA, G. Bacon STScI) "What a deep voice you have," said the little girl in surprise."The better to greet you with," said the wolf."Goodness, what big eyes you have.""The better to see you with.""And what big hands you have!" exclaimed Little Red Riding Hood, stepping over to the bed."The better to hug you with," said the wolf."What a big mouth you have," the little girl murmured in a weak voice."The better to eat you with!" growled the wolf...Stars and planets have what might be the most dysfunctional relationship in astrophysics.
An alien world in the raw (see below) Have you ever wondered what it would really be like for a person to journey to a truly distant and alien place; another planet, even another planetary system?
An interstellar web? (Original image by B. Torrissen) A speculative but intriguing discussion that sometimes crops up when talking to people engaged in exoplanetary science goes like this; let's suppose that we find an unmistakably terrestrial style planet around a relatively nearby star (less than about 30 light years away), perhaps even around one of the Alpha Centauri members, a touch over four light-years distant.
Who's been munching my galaxy? Right now, all across the planet, millions of people are engaged in a struggle with enormous implications for the very nature of life itself.
Are you my mommy? (RNA Center, UCSC) Well, perhaps your great-to-the-hundred-millionth-grandmother was.Understanding the origins of life and the mechanics of the earliest beginnings of life is as important for the quest to unravel the Earth's biological history as it is for the quest to seek out other life in the universe.
It's full of lenses... When astronomers talk about methods for finding exoplanets the list is relatively short. There is the radial velocity, or 'wobble' technique, which senses the motion of a star around a common center-of-mass with its planets.
As it was, and as it is, an ocean on Earth (T. Fioreze) If there is one thing our universe makes a lot of, it is water. This isn't an immediately obvious property based solely on the universal inventory of stuff.
A data transmission problem? (Wikipedia/BigRiz) Although still awaiting full confirmation, a breaking news report in Science (and Nature , see below) indicates that the measurement of an apparently faster-than-light travel time for muon-neutrinos generated at CERN and detected at the Gran Sasso laboratory - which hit the world headlines back in September 2011 - may have been due to a problematic physical connection between a fiber-optic cable and an electronics card in a computer.The rumor is that when this connection was tightened and the signal timing through the cable re-evaluated it matched precisely the 60 nano-second discrepancy that had been attributed to possible superluminal neutrino speeds.
Nomadic world seeks friendly home (NASA/JPL-Caltech) The notion of what constitutes a typical planetary system has undergone some serious revision in the past twenty years.
A Falcon 9 launches the Dragon spacecraft - which orbited and then reentered the atmosphere to splashdown in the Pacific in December 2010 (SpaceX/Chris Thompson) We live in interesting times.
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