ogre7299 writes “Astronomers have found direct evidence of a forming proto-solar system and ‘weighed’ the forming star for the first time The results were reported in Nature (abstract) and the pre-print is available at the arXiv. ‘The star, called L1527 IRS, is only one-fifth the mass of the sun, and is expected to keep growing as the swirling disk of matter surrounding it falls into its surface. Astronomers estimated the star formed around the same time that Neanderthals evolved on Earth: just 300,000 years ago. … Generally, a star forms from a cloud of gas that collapses into itself. Material streams inward from the cloud and forms a protostar in the center of a disk of gas and dust. Over millions of years, material falls on the protostar and releases quite a bit of energy. In L1527, 90 percent of its energy comes from material landing on the surface of the protostar. The remaining 10 percent comes from the star itself.’ Measurements for the research came from the Submillimeter Array and the Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-wave Astronomy.”
Source: Astronomers Detect and ‘Weigh’ Very Young Solar System
November 26th, 2011 11:11
The Bad Astronomer
writes “Rolf Olsen, an ‘amateur’ astronomer in New Zealand, took an amazing photo of a disk of material around the star Beta Pictoris, the first time this has been seen outside of professional observatories. Incredibly, he snagged it with just a 25 cm (10″) telescope! A comparison with an earlier pic from a much larger observatory indicates he nailed it, making this a milestone for amateur astronomy.”
Source: ‘Amateur’ Astronomer Snaps Pic of Planet-Forming Disk
Categories: slashdot astronomer, astronomy source, Bad, bad astronomer, Beta Pictoris, disk, material, New Zealand, photo, professional observatories, Rolf Olsen, star beta pictoris
The Kepler space telescope, launched nearly two years ago, has already proven its worth as an exoplanet hunter many times over. But the discoveries keep on coming. NASA just announced that Kepler has found its first rocky planet–and that the rocky world is only 1.4 times the size of Earth, making it the smallest exoplanet ever found.
Phil Plait explains that this nearly Earth-sized isn’t actually Earth-like and habitable:
[I]t orbits extremely close in to its star, circling over the starâ€™s surface at a distance of roughly 3 million kilometers (1.8 million miles) â€” amazingly, it takes less than an Earth day to make one circuit. But being that close to a star comes at a price: the surface temperature of the planet must be several thousand degrees!
The planet, Kepler-10b, may not be habitable to life as we know it, but Plait is still plenty excited. Get the rest of the story on how the planet was found and what its discovery means over at Bad Astronomy.
Source: Kepler Finds a Super-Small, Super-Hot Rocky Exoplanet
Categories: 80beats Acirc, astronomy source, bad astronomy, Earth, exoplanet, Phil Plait, planet, Rocky Exoplanet, rocky planet, rocky world, Star
December 14th, 2010 12:32
Into the great unknown, into the wild blue yonder, past the second star on the right and straight on till morning: That’s where NASA’s Voyager 1 is heading. The remarkable spacecraft was launched 33 years ago, and it’s now reaching the edge of our solar system. Within a few years, NASA says, it will enter interstellar space.
Phil Plait reports on how researchers realized they’d reached a milestone in Voyager 1’s journey:
Over all those years, there has been one constant in the Voyager flight: the solar wind blowing past it. This stream of subatomic particles leaves the Sun at hundreds of kilometers per second, much faster than Voyager. But now, after 33 years, that has changed: at 17 billion kilometers (10.6 billion miles) from the Sun, the spacecraft has reached the point where the solar wind has slowed to a stop. Literally, the wind is no longer at Voyagerâ€™s back.
Read the rest of his post at Bad Astronomy.
Source: Voyager Spacecraft Prepares to Exit the Solar System
Categories: 80beats astronomy source, bad astronomy, NASA, Phil Plait, Read, rsquo, spacecraft, Voyager, voyager 1, voyager spacecraft, wild blue yonder, wind
February 28th, 2010 02:00
A technique known as compressed sensing may change everything from medical imagery to astronomy.
Source: Fill in the Blanks: Algorithm Makes Something Out of Nothing