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Our Backyard and Beyond, A Month of Astronomicaly Rich Discoveries

Posted: October 18th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Astronomy, Cankler Science News, Favorite New Thought, From The Web | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Our Backyard and Beyond, A Month of Astronomicaly Rich Discoveries

The Southern Milky Way Above ALMAWOW, isn’t really a word, it’s more like a thoughtfilled sound, in this case it’s the one I made looking back over this past month of astronomical discoveries. From a diamond encrusted jewel to a new earth sized planet a stones throw from our own blue planet.

News from skywatchers has boomed out through September and October this year, with clever astronomers and planetary scientists pushing the boundaries of computer climate modelling, forecasting weather, climatic change and glacial movements on Mars that just might have valid predictors for climate change on Earth.

A new planet, the closest yet outside our solar system and just an astronomical stone’s throw away at four light years,and according to scientists, seriously raising the chances of finding a habitable planet in Earth’s neighbourhood. Researchers say the new planet is too close to its sun to support any known forms of life, with a surface temperature estimated at 1,200 degrees Celsius.

Previous studies suggest that when one planet is discovered orbiting a sun, there are usually others in the same system. The new Earth-sized planet, announced in science journal Nature by Stephane Udry and Xavier Dumusque at the Geneva Observatory, orbits one of the suns in Alpha Centauri, only 40 trillion kilometres away, visible to the naked eye – though we’d suggest you wear clothes while backyard stargazing – The planet was discovered using the HARPS instrument on a telescope at the ESO’s – European Southern Observatory –  La Silla site in Chile. :: Read the full article »»»»

Dust and Debris, The Middle Mystery of Planet Formation

Posted: July 9th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Astronomy, Cankler, Physics, Protoscience, Science | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Dust and Debris, The Middle Mystery of Planet Formation

How did this rocky outpost of life we call ‘Earth’ form, what process is capable of turning space dust and rubble into this picturesque blue planet we call home.  Science has a fairly good understanding of the beginning and end of the life-cycle of solar systems and their planets but the middle bit is still a huge mystery. How we go from a dusty cloud to what we on Earth a used to seeing, a working solar system that’s the question. A number of recent discoveries are helping us shape our understanding of this process, the formation of planets. Central to this new understanding is the information being collected by many radio telescopes and satellites. With these new modern tools we are seeing for the first time this process in action. Discoveries are also being made in unexpected places, theories are being expanded or replaced faster than ever.

One of the greatest mysteries and hardest to observe processes is the earliest stage of planet formation, how that initial clumping of dust occurs, starting the snow ball rolling. Discoveries often happen in funny and unexpected ways. This discovered was made by a mad scientists experimenting on the International Space StationISS -. Dr Don Pettit – NASA Astronaut – had become famous for his hands on experiments in zero gravity. Pettit filmed everyday things in zero gravity, with a desire to simply learn about this new set of rules, the laws of zero-gravity. Many of the experiments exhibited unexpected behaviour, pleasant surprises that are helping us define our understanding of space. This discovery almost went unnoticed until fellow NASA scientist Dr Stanley Love was watching some of Pettit’s video’s of plastic bags filled with salt. The salt inside the bag clumped almost instantly once Pettit stopped shaking it. The shaking caused the dust to bump into each other, building up a static charge which caused them to be attracted – electrostatic coalescence – once clumped together surface tension took over to hold it all together. Again Pettite has some interesting video to demonstrate this point, an interesting experiment with corn candy. Very cool video by the way. When particles bump around in space the impacts cause an exchange of electrons this along with a complete lack of ground to discharge static it just builds up, this coupled with the fact that static works very differently in space than it does on Earth may be the basis for a solution to this mysterious part of the plant formation process. Read the full article »»»»