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A Young Star System Holds Clues About The History Of Our Own

In Exoplanets by Brian Koberlein1 Comment

Ten light years away there is a star that could tell us about the origins of our solar system. Known as Epsilon Eridani, it is a bit smaller and cooler than our Sun, but similar in composition. It is also only about 500 million years old, giving us a view of what our own solar system may have been like in its youth. New work now finds the system is similar to our own. Read More

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The Dark Web

In Dark Matter by Brian Koberlein0 Comments

Dark matter is difficult to study. Since it doesn’t interact with light, it is basically invisible. But it does have mass, and that means it deflects light ever so slightly, an effect known as weak gravitational lensing. By observing the way light from distant galaxies is distorted, we can map the distribution of mass between us and the galaxies. Comparing this to the visible matter of galaxies allows us to map the presence of dark matter. This technique works well when measuring large regions of dark matter, such as the halos around galaxies, but gravitational lensing is such a weak effect it’s difficult to study the detailed structure of dark matter. That’s unfortunate, because the details are what we need to understand the nature of dark matter. Read More

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Asteroid Gamble

In Asteroids by Brian Koberlein1 Comment

Yesterday the kilometer-wide asteroid 2014 JO25 passed within 1.8 million kilometers of Earth. Although that’s nearly 5 times farther than the Moon, it’s a “near miss” by astronomical standards. If such an asteroid were to strike Earth, it would make a crater more than 10 kilometers wide and spread debris more than 100 kilometers in all directions. That’s large enough to wipe my home city of Rochester NY off the map. Fortunately there was no risk of impact for Rochester or anywhere else on Earth, but what are the odds that a sizable asteroid would strike your home town? Read More

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The Cool Spot

In Solar System by Brian Koberlein0 Comments

A prominent feature of Jupiter’s surface is the Great Red Spot, which has been observed continuously since the 1830s. Jupiters red spot was easy to discover because of its prominent coloring. Now a new spot has been discovered that can only be seen in the infrared. Read More

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Seeing The Future In The Stars

In Milky Way by Brian Koberlein2 Comments

Throughout our lives the stars rise and set in a seemingly unchanging pattern. Over the centuries humanity has named constellations and made them legends, and navigated seas by the eternal stars. We now know that stars are not fixed points of light, but rather move ever so slowly across the sky. Read More