Showing posts with label exoplanets. Show all posts
Showing posts with label exoplanets. Show all posts

2 Jun 2017

New Worlds: The Search Continues

There's a huge telescope under construction in Chile: the E-ELT. When compete, astronomers using it plan plan on looking for new worlds, and observing the early universe.

We may have spotted a second super-Saturn. We'll know more about that in September....

...Telescopes have come a long way since Galileo repurposed the "Dutch perspective glass" for astronomical observation.

About Galileo, Copernicus, the sun, and the Church: it's true....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

23 Apr 2017

Looking for Life: Enceladus and Gliese 1132 b

We haven't found life on — or in — Enceladus. But we've found organic compounds in the Saturnian moon's salt-water geysers.

Scientists detected an atmosphere around Gliese 1132 b, a planet about 39 light-years away. It's Earth-like, in terms of size; but too hot for life as we know it. We'll almost certainly learn a great deal, though, by studying its atmosphere....

...Abraham, Moses, and Minnesota


I take the Bible, Sacred Scripture, very seriously. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 101-133)

I don't, however, insist on believing only what I find in the Bible. That's just as well, since I live near the center of North America.

I'm pretty sure that Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Saint Peter, and the rest, didn't know that the land I live on exists. But I'm quite sure that the State of Minnesota is real: even if it's not "Biblical."...

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

3 Mar 2017

TRAPPIST-1: Water? Life??

TRAPPIST-1's planets may support life: or not. We don't know. Not yet.

We're pretty sure that all seven are rocky worlds, like the Solar System's inner planets.

Three are in the star's habitable zone. The inner two definitely do not have one sort of atmosphere that would make life as we know it impossible.

Even if we don't find life there, we'll learn a great deal while looking.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

10 Dec 2016

Tides and Our Moon’s Origin

Scientists have been wondering how our moon formed, and why its orbit isn't over Earth's equator.

It looks like our moon formed after something about the size of Mars hit Earth, roughly 4,500,000,000 years back.

But the giant-impact hypothesis didn't explain why our moon orbits Earth only five degrees away from Earth's orbital plane. The math had said that our moon would be orbiting pretty much over Earth's equator....

...God is Large and In Charge


I occasionally wonder if I should keep explaining why reality doesn't offend me, and why facts don’t threaten my faith....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

2 Dec 2016

KIC 8462852 and Strange Stars

KIC 8462852, Tabby's Star, has been in the news recently. Scientists are pretty sure that something very large orbits the star, but haven't worked out what it is.

A few scientists, looking at the data, say that it's probably a really odd natural phenomenon: but that it might something built by folks who aren't human.

SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, is still a science in search of a subject. But quite a few scientists are taking it seriously, which is why Berkeley SETI Research Center added few stars to the Automated Planet Finder's observing queue....

...What I say about SETI and science in general may take some explaining, if you're new to this blog. Basically, I think God is large and in charge; and that part of my job is appreciating God's work — not telling the Almighty how it should have been made...."

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

15 Apr 2016

Starshot, SETI, and the Universe

We may be within a generation of sending probes on flyby missions to other stars, high-energy jets from several distant galaxies all point in the same direction, and we're learning more about hot super-earths.

That sort of thing fascinates me, your experience may vary.

Meanwhile, SETI researchers will be checking out red dwarfs: which may be more promising places to look for neighbors than we thought.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

3 Mar 2016

Seeking New Worlds, New Life - - -

Analyzing what we've been learning about other planetary systems, some scientists say that maybe Earth is unusual, after all: maybe.

Other scientists found another maybe-habitable planet less than 14 light-years away. Maybe planets like Earth are common: again, maybe....

...I like living in a world where last year's list of known planetary systems is obsolete. Some folks don't. I'll talk about Copernicus and Sacred Scripture — right after my usual harangue about using our brains....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

19 Feb 2016

Space Archaeologist, 55 Cancri e

A headline, "TED 2016: Space archaeologist wins $1m to find hidden sites" caught my eye this week, and so did news about a very hot Super-Earth's atmosphere....

...Science? In a 'religious' blog?? During Lent??!

I don't see a problem with that. But as I keep saying — I think this universe is billions, not thousands, of years old; Earth isn't flat; Adam and aren't German; poetry isn't science; and thinking is not a sin....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

15 Jan 2016

SETI: Looking for Neighbors

Some scientist think globular clusters aren't good places to look for neighbors.

Others took a fresh look at the data, crunched numbers, and pointed out that parts of globular clusters might be better spots for interstellar civilizations that the boonies where we live.

Meanwhile, someone with a lot more money that I'll ever see decided to spend some of it on a systematic search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

18 Dec 2015

Enceladus and Kepler’s Planets

Scientists following up on Kepler observations learned that a bit over half of the objects tentatively identified as giant planets are brown dwarfs or stars.

We've also learned that Saturn's moon Enceladus has a vast ocean under its icy surface: with all the ingredients needed for life....

...If you've read my 'science' posts before, you know why I think Earth isn't flat; the universe is billions, not thousands, of years old; poetry isn't science; and thinking is not a sin....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

21 Aug 2015

New Worlds: 51 Eridani b, HD 219134b

Scientists are looking, literally, at a newly-discovered exoplanet, 51 Eridani b. It's less than 100 light-years away, about as far from its star as the gas giants in the Solar System: and very young, only around 20,000,000 years old.

Studying 51 Eridani b should help scientists understand how our Solar System formed.

HD 219134b is much closer: a little over 21 light-years away, in the constellation Cassiopeia. It's a rocky world, like Earth; but larger, and blistering hot. It's also the closest transiting exoplanet we've found so far. This is a big deal, at least for scientists who study planets....

...Whether you know why I'm not offended by God's design choices or not, feel free to skip ahead to "An Infant Version of Jupiter"; check out xkcd.com, and/or mainstream comics at gocomics.com; or do something completely different....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

2 Aug 2015

Faith, Fear, and Flying Saucers

During the 1950s, space aliens in the movies came in two basic models.

Some were invaders — "Plan 9 from Outer Space," "Earth vs. the Flying Saucers," and "Invaders from Mars.

The title character in "The Thing from Another World" acted like an invader. But I think the Thing's bad attitude might have come from being shot after the humans blew up his ship, and that's another topic.

Then there's Klaatu, in "The Day the Earth Stood Still," who stopped just short of walking on water.

Between Klaatu, movies like "Prometheus, and folks who believe space aliens are angels, I'm not surprised that some Christians don't like the idea that we may have neighbors on other planets.

As I keep saying, I don't believe that life exists elsewhere in this universe: or that it does not. We don't know, not yet.

If we meet folks whose ancestors developed on another planet, I think Brother Guy Consolmago is right: they'll be so much like us, basically, that they'll be more like cousins than "aliens." (July 31, 2015)

That doesn't mean I think that space aliens look like Michale Rennie.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

31 Jul 2015

Pluto, Earth 2.0, and Life in the Universe


Pluto may have nitrogen glaciers, and the planet's air pressure is much lower than scientists expected.

Kepler 452b, "Earth 2.0," isn't the first roughly Earth-size planet found in a star's habitable zone: but the star, Kepler 452, is remarkably similar to our sun.

Another planet, HIP 11915b, is the first we've found that's around Jupiter's size: and orbiting its star at about the same distance as Jupiter. This is the first other planetary system that 'looks like' our Solar system.

Scientists still haven't found life elsewhere in the universe: but the odds seem to be getting better that we will, eventually....

...A 'science threatens faith' op-ed got my attention this week, so I wrote about beliefs, reasonable and otherwise, before getting around to the interesting stuff. Feel free to skip ahead to Pluto's Probable Glaciers, take a walk, or whatever suits your fancy....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

13 Mar 2015

Dawn's Arrival at Ceres; Sims and "Chaos"

Dawn became the first spacecraft to orbit two asteroids or planets other than Earth last week. More to the point, we're learning more about these survivors from the early Solar System.

Meanwhile, from the world of infotainment, "chaos" and the early Solar System....

...Either way, Vesta and Ceres are — most likely — the last remaining large protoplanets: which makes them valuable samples of the early Solar System.

Apart from size and distance from our sun, they're very different: which also makes them intriguing places to study. Scientists have working ideas about how Vesta and Ceres ended up where they are, but those hypotheses may change when we learn more from the Dawn mission.

There's quite a bit of data to work with already, from Dawn's stopover at Vesta....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

2 Jan 2015

Alien Worlds, Martian Methane, Looking for Life

Someone's made a 'top 10' list of "top exoplanet discoveries of 2014," including the first potentially habitable Earth-size world.

Mars had an ocean: billions of years ago. Scientists are piecing together the story of how Mars became the world it is now: and trying to figure out where Martian methane comes from.

Other scientists have discovered another reason to look for life on planets orbiting red dwarf stars: and there's the ongoing discussion of how to define "life."

We're learning more about this universe, and discovering that there's much more to learn.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

19 Dec 2014

Spotting a Diamond (?) Planet, Searching for Life

Kepler spotted its first planet since mission planners found a new way to hold the robot observatory steady, earlier this year.

Scientists at the Nordic Optical Telescope didn't discover 55 Cancri e: but they're the first to observe the super-Earth from Earth's surface. The planet is too hot for life: but 55 Cancri f is another matter. I'll get back to that.

Other scientists are fine-tuning how we can search for life in the universe....

...Before getting to 55 Cancri e and the search for life in the universe, I'll be rambling on about billions of planets, Genesis, and the Hertzsprung–Russell diagram. Feel free to skip ahead to Planet-Spotting: Nordic Optical Telescope's 'First.' Or take a coffee break, go for a walk: whatever you feel like....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

28 Nov 2014

"Organic," "Wow!" — and Double Planets

A Rosetta mission team leader's British reserve snapped when Philae's data showed "a lot of peaks." There's carbon on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko: probably part of complex organic compounds, which doesn't mean there's life there.

Researchers on this side of the Atlantic reported that double planets may be more common than we'd thought: a lot more more common....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

14 Nov 2014

"Philae ... Headed for History"

A spacecraft landed on a comet, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, this week: an historic 'first.'

Back on Earth, scientists at the ALMA radio telescope got the clearest picture yet of planets about to take shape....

...I'm looking forward to what we'll learn from the Rosetta mission's lander and orbiter: how closely its water matches Earth's, and what other substances it carried from the Solar System's borderlands....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

7 Nov 2014

Harpooning the 'Rubber Duck' Comet; Public Safety — and Space Aliens

If all goes well, a robot spaceship will harpoon a comet next week.

Meanwhile, science and daily routine go on in the International Space Station, nobody was hurt when an Antares cargo carrier exploded, and someone's done a survey about faith and space aliens...."

...Some comets and asteroids are shaped like potatoes. Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko looks like two potatoes and a bit of corn stalk: or a rubber duck....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

3 Oct 2014

Sagittarius B2, Water, and Asteroid Mining

Scientists have found a complex organic molecule near this galaxy's core; and water vapor in a planet's atmosphere, some 122 light-years away. Closer to home, America's Congress is deliberating on a bill that could allow asteroid mining: if other nations don't get conniptions....

...As usual, I'll explain why I think being human is okay. If you've been here before, feel free to skip to "Organic Molecules in Sagittarius B2," click to something else online, take a coffee break, or whatever....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Praise - Acrostic Poem

PRAISE        P raise R ise A spire I lluminate S oar E nlighten ©   2012 Donna De Guglielmo We are called to be ambassadors of ...