Archive for the ‘Astronomy’ Category

Sun-like star discovered

Astronomers at the Leiden Observatory, The Netherlands, and the University of Rochester, USA, have discovered that the ring system that they see eclipse the very young Sun-like star J1407 is of enormous proportions, much larger and heavier than the ring system of Saturn, Astronomy.com reports. The ring system — the first of its kind to be found outside our Solar System — was discovered in 2012 by a team led by Rochester’s Eric Mamajek.

“The details that we see in the light curve are incredible. The eclipse lasted for several weeks, but you see rapid changes on time scales of tens of minutes as a result of fine structures in the rings,” says Kenworthy. “The star is much too far away to observe the rings directly, but we could make a detailed model based on the rapid brightness variations in the starlight passing through the ring system. If we could replace Saturn’s rings with the rings around J1407b, they would be easily visible at night and be many times larger than the full Moon.”

“This planet is much larger than Jupiter or Saturn, and its ring system is roughly 200 times larger than Saturn’s rings are today,” said co-author Mamajek, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Rochester. “You could think of it as kind of a super Saturn.”

The researchers encourage amateur astronomers to help monitor J1407, which would help detect the next eclipse of the rings, and constrain the period and mass of the ringed companion. Observations of J1407 can be reported to the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO). In the meantime the astronomers are searching other photometric surveys looking for eclipses by yet undiscovered ring systems.

Astronomers identify signature of Earth-eating stars

Students of Vanderbilt University are developing a model to find stars that swallow planets explained how planets are formed and help find other Earth-like planets outside of our solar system.

“Trey has shown that we can actually model the chemical signature of a star in detail, element by element, and determine how that signature is changed by the ingestion of Earth-like planets,” said Vanderbilt Professor of Astronomy Keivan Stassun, who supervised the study. “After obtaining a high-resolution spectrum for a given star, we can actually detect that signature in detail, element by element.”

Student of Astronomy, Trey Mack, developed the model that shows what happens to a star when it swallows Earth-like planets during its development. Mack then applied this model to two twin stars to find out if they are so-called “Earth-eaters”.

The home we’ve ever known

We succeeded taking that picture (Voyager 1, in 1990 (NASA)from deep space), and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.

The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.

Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity — in all this vastness — there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us. It’s been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

From Dr. Sagan’s book Pale Blue Dot

New planet discovered in our solar system

The planet is called Tyche. Cy the way according to Wiki In ancient Greek city cults, Tyche (????, meaning “luck” in Greek, Roman equivalent: Fortuna) was the presiding tutelary deity that governed the fortune and prosperity of a city, its destiny.

John Matese and Daniel Whitmire, researchers at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, created a mathematical model that shows a distant gas planet one to four times the mass of Jupiter could explain the patterns of comets in a particular region of the sky. It is believed to be a gas giant located some 1.35 trillion miles from the Sun, which is equivalent to 15,000 AU. In layman’s terms, it would take light from Tyche roughly thre months to reach Earth. Tyche is also believed to be between three-and-four times the size of the current champion of the solar system, Jupiter, and have a surface temperature of -73C.

The solar system currently has eight known planets.