Five hundred light years away, the fifth planet orbiting a small dim star called Kepler-186 has caught scientists’ eyes as being not only roughly Earth-sized, but also within what’s called the “habitable zone” that could support liquid water on the planet’s surface.
The planet, called Kepler-186f, was discovered using NASA’s Kepler spacecraft, which, like the Earth, is orbiting our sun. It stares out at distant stars and looks for planets orbiting them by detecting the way those stars dim when a planet passes between that star and Kepler’s eye.
Kepler has observed this particular planet multiple times as it has transited in front of its star, and this has allowed scientists to measure its size and its orbital period, which is 130 days. The planet is just 10 percent bigger than the Earth itself is.
“The significance of this result is that even though Kepler has previously discovered planets the size of the Earth, and it’s previously discovered planets that are in the habitable zone, this is the first time we’ve put the two of those together,” Stephen Kane, a professor of astrophysics at San Francisco University and one of the researchers on this project, tells Newsweek. He’s a co-author of a new paper in the journal Science announcing the results.
The planet is likely rocky, and not made of gas, says Kane. While it isn’t possible to literally see that there is water on the planet’s surface, the conditions imply that it is “likely to have the properties required to maintain reservoirs of liquid water,” as the Science article concludes. More good news in the search for planets where the conditions are right for having liquid water is the fact that the kind of star this Earth-sized planet is orbiting, an M-dwarf star, is “the most common type of star in the universe—far more common than the sun,” says Kane. “That’s really great news for habitability.”
The implication is that if there can be an Earth-sized planet orbiting such a common kind of star and within the habitable zone, there might be more of these planets where the conditions are right for water.
Ravi Kopparapu, a planetary scientist at The Pennsylvania State University, is an expert on the habitable zone and notes that Kepler-186f is similar to, but smaller than, a planet outside of our solar system called Kepler-62f, which is also terrestrial and in the habitable zone.
But this new find is closer to Earth size’s than that planet. (After a planet gets to be about 1.5 times the size of Earth is, its gravity attracts hydrogen and helium and makes it unlikely to have liquid water on its surface.) “I think it’s pretty pretty cool that they found this planet,” he says. “This shows that potential habitable planets are more common than our estimates.”
In ancient Greece the study of astronomy was linked to the same physical principles as musical harmony. For example, many Greek thinkers believed that each of the planets and stars created their own unique sound as they traveled through the cosmos, thrumming like an enormous guitar string light-years long.
From the TED-Ed Lesson Music and creativity in Ancient Greece - Tim Hansen
Animation by Together
So we melted Tungsten with an electron beam gun this morning. For those of you not in the know, W has a melting point of 3422C (6192F), the highest of all naturally occurring metals. You can see that the residual light from the heat was enough to light up the chamber interior clear as day. Also, it vaporized our LN2 refrigerant so quickly we didn’t need to hook up the return line; we just let it vent out into a bucket.
Everything you need to know about checking the four upcoming lunar eclipses here.
Just in case some of you guys were curious what the different types of Lunar eclipses were, here’s a neat little gif-tastic diagram of the three types. Also handy is a calendar for the next ones, although the majority of America won’t be able to see a full total eclipse again until 2017.
The first of four eclipses in a series, the Lunar Saros 122. A saros is a fancy way of determining patters in relation to time relating to Earth-Moon solar geometry, so I present to you a Wikipedia article on the topic. For this eclipse cycle, though, their are no intervening partial eclipses of the Moon.
re: running in the cold.
well, that hurt. i feel better about myself now. short 40min run. uck, hate it when i haven’t run literally all winter and go out and try and run, end up feeling like a rusted transformer.
I recently had a conversation about a familiar community using overly negative language. While this is not anywhere close to the appropriate person to place any criticism, I have to say a 40 min run is neither short nor worthy of anything other than kudos, especially in the cold.
While I’m aware there is a level of athleticism relevant here that is both respected and most of us are not close to matching (certainly not myself): stop that. You are too amazing for moments like that, for both yourself and the sentiment that it begets. You are far from rusted my, friend..Though I may choose to think of you as a transformer, cause you know… oooh maybe a tonka truck…
Hey look, a soapbox… maybe I should say something…
Well, i suspect the 40min included about 10 min or so of stretching. and still, the first outdoor run of the year always is creaky. It did take a fair amount of will power to get myself to go out though. I walked out and the minnesota wind grabbed me and i nearly went back inside. But it did hurt, and if i kept in better shape it wouldn’t hurt as much. Particularly watching the few college students running outside, but i suspect there is a selection bias of those who are out running in this and worse. And are more dedicated on average to it then i am. Plus, i remember when i felt fit, and i don’t really want to compare myself to others because it doesn’t make anyone feel good, nor is it in fact useful. I just remember being able to run sub-5 minute miles forever. and now i can’t, because i haven’t tried hard enough.
re: transformer type.
I don’t think i have quite the body type to be a tonka truck. I think I’d be a VW golf gti. Probably blue. Athletic but solid, not too fancy. athleticism built upon hard work. quite coordinated but not naturally talented.
End of the road for Ryan Giggs?
Andy Mitten writes about Ryan Giggs. Our hero Ryan Giggs
LFC continued their powerful march to a first title in 24 years while Arsenal can only dream of the FA Cup, writes David Hirshey.
A marvelous article my articulate and hilarious Arsenal fan David Hirsey. It sets up Arsenal and Liverpool as the two main characters and displays the twists in fate that the clubs share.