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A Billion Miles Further

In Solar System by Brian Koberlein0 Comments

The New Horizons Pluto flyby was an ambitious mission. At the time of launch, its destination was known only as a blurry distant body.  We knew some of its properties, such as its mass and rough surface coloring, but we weren’t even certain of its exact size. But the laws of gravity are extremely precise, so we could ensure New Horizons would reach its target. The mystery was what it would find. Read More

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Children Of The Wolf

In Solar System by Brian Koberlein3 Comments

There is much we still don’t know about the origin of our Sun. We know that stars form within large clouds of gas and dust known as stellar nurseries. These clouds collapse under their own weight to form hundreds of stars at once. But something has to trigger that collapse. The most popular view is that it is triggered by supernovae, which sends shock waves through the cloud. But a new model argues that the birth of our Sun might have been triggered by the more subtle process of a Wolf-Rayet star. Read More

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Naming Day

In Stars by Brian Koberlein0 Comments

Out of the vast sea of stars in the night sky, a few are special. Not because of their size, or color, or age, but because they have a name. When we name a star, we make it a part of our collective cultural heritage. Their names inspire epic stories, or remind us of our history. Read More

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The Search For Aliens On A Visiting Asteroid

In Radio Astronomy by Brian Koberlein2 Comments

If an alien civilization wanted to study planet Earth, how might they do it? They could use powerful telescopes to measure the physical characteristics of our planet, or they could listen for signals from our TV and radio broadcasts. These are things we are doing in our search for alien civilizations. But a really advanced alien civilization might try something a bit more ambitious, such as an actual mission to Earth. One way to do this would be to build a probe within an asteroid, and send it on a journey across the stars. The asteroid could shelter the probe during it’s long trip through interstellar space. Once it arrived in our solar system, the probe could gather detailed information about Earth and the solar system. It might even try to communicate with humans by beaming a radio signal in Earth’s direction. Such an alien probe would look a lot like the recently discovered asteroid Oumuamua, which is why the Breakthrough Listen project wants to study it.Read More

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The Black Hole At The Edge Of The Universe

In Black Holes by Brian Koberlein2 Comments

Within most galaxies there lurks a supermassive black hole. Our own galaxy, for example contains a black hole 4 million times more massive than our Sun. One of the big mysteries of these black holes is just how they formed, and how long it took for them to reach such a massive size. Now a massive black hole at the edge of the observable universe challenges our understanding of them. Read More

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How To Cook A Turkey On Venus

In Solar System by Brian Koberlein0 Comments

There are countless opinions about how to cook the best turkey. Some suggest slow roasting it for hours, while others prefer cooking at high heat. Some even dare to deep fry it in peanut oil. Of course all of these cooking suggestions are Earth-based, which is a bit limiting. Suppose you wanted to have a Thanksgiving dinner elsewhere in the solar system, such as Venus?Read More

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A Universe Of Antimatter

In Cosmology by Brian Koberlein5 Comments

Our universe is dominated by matter. Sure, there is dark matter and dark energy, but things like stars, planets and people are made of matter. Protons, electrons, neutrons and such. But matter seems to come in pairs. For every electron created, an antimatter positron is created. For every proton that appears, so does an anti-proton. Since our universe is dominated by matter, what if there is another universe dominated by antimatter? What would an antimatter universe look like? Read More