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Life, Unbounded

Life, Unbounded

Discussion and news about planets, exoplanets, and astrobiology

The Sciences

Voyager's Exit To The Stars...In 17,000 Years

Recent debates over whether or not the Voyager 1 spacecraft has 'left the solar system' typically leave out some critical details. The limits of the Sun's particle radiation is not the physical edge of the contents of the solar system, but it is the point of changeover to the exceedingly tenuous atmosphere of matter and magnetic fields that fills the space between the stars in our galaxy.It's been a hot topic recently because the Voyager 1 spacecraft, after 36 years of cruising away from us, now seems to be passing through a zone described as the 'magnetic highway', where the Sun's magnetic field lines connect to those pervading interstellar space in our galaxy...

April 8, 2013 — Caleb A. Scharf
Space

A Jupiter Carousel: Hotspots Ride The Wave

Jupiter seen by Cassini (NASA) New analysis of data taken by the Cassini mission during its encounter with Jupiter in 2000 reveal that exceptionally clear atmospheric 'hotspots' effectively ride up and down in the Jovian skies as they are formed by what's known as a Rossby wave - a phenomenon familiar to us here on Earth.The authors of the study have produced such an excellent video explaining all of this that it's all you need to look at (really, it's that good)...

March 15, 2013 — Caleb A. Scharf
The Sciences

First Reconnaissance Of An Exoplanetary System

The planets of HR 8799 (labeled). The starlight has been suppressed and mostly removed (Credit: Project 1640, Oppenheimer et al.) 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 a tiny handful of exoplanetary systems exist where we have been able to spot planets directly...

March 11, 2013 — Caleb A. Scharf

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