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Showing posts with the label exoplanets

Oxygen, Alien Life

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We haven't found extraterrestrial life. But we're still finding planets circling other stars. Thousands of them.

Some of those planets couldn't possibly support life as we know it. But some might.

Atomic oxygen may be a good biosignature: evidence of life. That's what some scientists said in a recent paper. If they're right, we may be a step closer to finding life in this universe.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Still Seeking Earth 2.0

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We've known about 55 Cancri e since 2004.

It may have lakes and rivers of lava. But that's probably not what keeps its night side hot enough to melt copper.

Ross 128 b, discovered this year, is a bit more massive than Earth, warm enough for liquid water, and too hot. It's not quite 'Earth 2.0,' but it may support life....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Visitor from the Stars

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"Scientists thought ‘Oumuamua was a comet when they spotted it last month.

"Follow-up observations showed it was more like an asteroid: and going too fast to be from the solar system.

"‘Oumuamua is from interstellar space. It's the first object of its kind we've seen.

"What scientists are learning about ‘Oumuamua tells us a bit about other planetary systems, and raises intriguing new questions...."

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Science, Faith, and Me

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This universe is bigger and older than some folks thought, a few centuries back.

I don't mind, at all. Besides, it's hardly new information. We've known that we live in a big world for a long time.
"4 Indeed, before you the whole universe is as a grain from a balance, or a drop of morning dew come down upon the earth." (Wisdom 11:22) If that bit from Wisdom doesn't sound familiar, I'm not surprised. It's not in the Bibles many Americans have. The one I read and study frequently is the unexpurgated version....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Finding New Worlds

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We could detect oxygen in Proxima Centauri b's atmosphere. It's a biosignature, but not proof of life.

Some extrasolar planets are like Earth, almost. Many are unlike anything in the Solar System.

I'll be looking at recently-discovered worlds; some almost familiar, others wonderfully unexpected. Also an informal 'top 10 best exoplanets' list.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Labor Day SETI

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I nearly missed an interesting development in SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. Interesting, and as newsworthy as most Stephen Hawking stories, but probably not significant.

Professor Hawking didn't start chatting with aliens over the Labor Day weekend. That would be major news.

But an outfit he's connected with will be listening to FRB 121102. I think it's likely that they'll collect useful data, and that this isn't a prelude to 'first contact.'

Other scientists say they've spotted several planets orbiting Tau Ceti. Two of them may be just inside that star's habitable zone.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Exoplanet Frontier

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We wouldn't expect to find life on 51 Eridani b, even if were the size of Earth and at the right distance from its star.

The planet is only a bit over 20,000,000 years old.

At that point in our home's long story, the earliest critters wouldn't appear for at least another several million years.

We've discovered thousands of new worlds so far, some a bit like Earth, most not; and many not like anything in our Solar System.

Scientists are starting to make sense of what's being found, and discovering that we have a very great deal left to learn.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

New Worlds: The Search Continues

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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.

Looking for Life: Enceladus and Gliese 1132 b

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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.

TRAPPIST-1: Water? Life??

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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.

Tides and Our Moon’s Origin

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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.

KIC 8462852 and Strange Stars

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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.

Starshot, SETI, and the Universe

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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.

Seeking New Worlds, New Life - - -

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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.

Space Archaeologist, 55 Cancri e

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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.

SETI: Looking for Neighbors

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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.

Enceladus and Kepler’s Planets

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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.

New Worlds: 51 Eridani b, HD 219134b

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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.

Faith, Fear, and Flying Saucers

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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 …

Pluto, Earth 2.0, and Life in the Universe

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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.