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Starry Fate

In Physics by Brian Koberlein4 Comments

Our fate is written in the stars, so the old stories go. It makes for thrilling drama, but it isn’t the way the Universe works. But there’s an interesting effect of quantum mechanics that might leave an opening for a starry fate, so a team of researchers decided to test the idea. Read More

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The Little Star That Could

In Pulsars by Brian Koberlein5 Comments

A pulsar is a star that emits a regular pulse of energy, usually on the order of a few seconds up to hundreds of times a second. They were first discovered by Jocelyn Bell in 1967, and since then we’ve found more than 1,500 of them. While their source was once a mystery, we now know that they are caused by rotating neutron stars. All the pulsars we’ve found have been neutron stars, but does a pulsar have to be a neutron star? Nope, it turns out white dwarfs can be pulsars too. Read More

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Light Braking

In Science Fiction by Brian Koberlein3 Comments

Your spacecraft is speeding toward Alpha Centauri at nearly 5% the speed of light. At that speed, your 95 year-long journey from Earth would end in a flyby lasting only a day or so. You’d like to stay a while, but to do that you have to slow down. How do you get the job done? Read More

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Bigger, Stronger, Faster

In Cosmology by Brian Koberlein8 Comments

We’ve known for nearly a century that the Universe is expanding. The fact that galaxies are receding away from us was first demonstrated by Edwin Hubble in 1929, building upon the work of Henrietta Leavitt and others. Since then we’ve developed a variety of ways to measure the rate of cosmic expansion, and while they are broadly in agreement, there are small discrepancies between them. As a result we still don’t know exactly how fast the Universe is expanding, as astrophysicist Ethan Siegel has so clearly explained. Now a new method of measuring cosmic expansion may settle the issue, but it also raises more questions.Read More

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How Green Was My Meteor

In Astronomy by Brian Koberlein0 Comments

Green is an interesting color in astronomy. Our eyes are more sensitive to green than any other color, and so it is a color that is often seen in the night sky. There are green comets, the momentary green brilliance of a meteor, the faint green glow of northern aurora, and even a green glow to some distant galaxies. These objects can have other colors as well, but green is a common color of the night sky. Read More

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And The Heaven He Raised

In History by Brian Koberlein28 Comments

Modern astronomy has a rich Islamic history. As with many cultures, the motions of the Sun, Moon and stars are an important part of Islam, and so Muslim astronomers needed to develop sophisticated astronomical techniques. To this day, many stars in the northern hemisphere continue to bear the Arabic names given them by Muslim astronomers. Read More

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Many Moons

In Moons by Brian Koberlein3 Comments

Of all the moons in the solar system, ours is unique. It has surface composition similar to Earth’s, pointing to a common origin, and it’s unusually large to be orbiting such a small planet. Just how such a large moon came to orbit Earth remains a bit of a mystery. With a similar composition to Earth, it couldn’t have been captured by Earth’s gravity, and the Earth and Moon didn’t likely form at the same time from the primordial gas and dust of the solar system. So the dominant theory is that of a single large impact. Early in its history, Earth was struck by a Mars-sized object, sometimes called Theia. A combination of material from Earth and Theia coalesced to form the Moon. Read More

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National Observatory

In ACEAP by Brian Koberlein0 Comments

Kitt Peak is the oldest national observatory in the United States. It was founded in 1958, when the National Science Foundation signed a lease with the Tohono O’odham Nation, upon whose land the observatory resides. Read More

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Surface Of The Sun

In Sun by Brian Koberlein3 Comments

This image might not look like much, but it’s actually an amazing step forward for solar astronomy. It captures the image of a large sunspot not in visible light, but in microwaves. Read More