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astronomy

This tag is associated with 71 posts

Could we detect signs of life on a massive super-Earth?

We have one canonical idea of what life looks like on Earth: nitrogen, water, carbon dioxide. But would this be true on another world? When looking for life in the atmospheres of exoplanets, we might want to consider searching for something completely different.

Exploring the Planetary Graveyard

Over the past decade the study of planetary debris at white dwarfs has become an increasingly exciting area. Observations of this debris have allowed us to make unique discoveries about the chemical composition of extrasolar rocky planets, as well as revealing the endpoints of the evolution of planetary systems very similar to our own…

The Spitzer Space Telescope: An Uncertain Future

Ten years after launch, financial problems may mean the demise of the Spitzer space telescope. Today, we review its history and discuss its possible future.

A star with a fake ID?

Most binary stars probably formed at the same time, meaning all stars in the same system should have the same age. The authors of this paper analyze a stellar binary system where one star appears to be lying about its age, as one star appears 3 billion years older than its companion.

Flipping Orbits

How do so many hot jupiters come to orbit backwards?

AAS Astronomy Ambassadors and You

Graduate student Meredith Rawls tells us about the AAS Ambassadors program and her experience as part of the inaugural class of Astronomy Ambassadors. The application deadline for this year’s class is coming up on Oct. 18th.

The (not so) Sordid History of the Small Magellanic Cloud

The authors of today’s paper find out just what kind of star formation history lies in the Milky Way’s next meal: The Small Magellanic Cloud. After all, they say you are what you eat.

The actual transit is not shown, as its depth would overwhelm much of the structure in the out-of-transit light curve.

Characterizing Planets with BEER

Faigler et al. apply their BEER algorithm to a collection of stars in the Kepler field and find a hot Jupiter missed by the Kepler Science Team, showing a new way to find and characterize planets without follow-up observations.

The Whirlpool Galaxy Like You’ve Never Seen it Before

It’s big, it’s active, and it’s only 20 million lightyears away– it is the Whirlpool galaxy, and astronomers are getting a brand new view. Using the Plateau de Bure interferometer, this paper examines the gas in this nearby grand-design spiral galaxy on arcsecond scales, resolving for the first time its individual molecular clouds. What does this tell us about star formation in this galaxy? Stay tuned!

Digging up “red nuggets” in local elliptical galaxies

Huang et al. dig up evidence that distant “red nugget” galaxies grew into the massive ellipticals we see today by consuming smaller, gas-poor galaxies.

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