Young Planet Around Young Star Claimed
May 28, 2004
A star estimated to be one million years old already has a planet in orbit around it, the Spitzer Space Telescope (Hubble’s counterpart for infrared astronomy) has found. Astrobiology Magazine says this challenges old theories. Alan Boss (Carnegie Institute) thinks this supports his disk-instability model for planetary formation, in which gas giants can form quickly, […]
Hot Jupiter! Exoplanets Found Very Close to Stars
May 7, 2004
Two examples of Jupiter-size planets have been found by the European Southern Observatory. They are so close to their parent stars, they orbit in less than two earth-days each. Mercury would be 17 times farther out than one of them. They belong to a new class of exoplanets scientists are terming “hot Jupiters.” A few […]
Lutherans Helped Copernicus
April 30, 2004
Every once in awhile, we are confronted to reconsider things we “know” are true, only to find out the truth is closer to the opposite. The usual spin on Nicolaus Copernicus is that he was a brave scientist who threatened the church with his discovery that the earth orbits the sun, not the sun the […]
Hubble Deep Field Surpassed: Ultra Deep Field
March 9, 2004
If you remember the awe of seeing the first Hubble Deep Field image in 1995, check out the new HUDF: Hubble Ultra Deep Field (see also the New Scientist report). The field of view, just one-tenth the size of the full moon, is a composite of 800 images taken for 11.3 days. The 1995 image […]
Superstar Challenges Theory
February 28, 2004
A new record holder has been found for biggest star: LBV 1806-20 in Sagittarius. According to the NewsNotes entry on p. 20 of the April 2004 issue of Sky and Telescope, the star is up to 3 times hotter than the surface of our sun, and has a diameter 200 times as big. […]
Should Cosmologists Get Worried Yet?
January 23, 2004
The unexpected finding of mature galaxies in the early universe (see 01/02/2004) has Robert Irion worried, but he seems surprised the theorists are not. Reporting on last week’s meeting of the American Astronomical Society in the Jan. 23 issue of Science,1 he titles his article, “Early Galaxies Baffle Observers, But Theorists Shrug.” He begins: “It’s […]
Globular Cluster Origins: Where Do We Go From Here?
January 1, 2004
The simple explanation of globular clusters as bundles of ancient stars seems to be in a state of crisis, though the authors of a paper in the Jan. 1 issue of Nature1 try to keep a stiff upper lip. They begin, “Nearly a century after the true nature of galaxies as distant ‘island universes’ was […]
Reality or Hubris in Scientific Claims?
January 20, 2002
51; The amount of trust the public puts in scientific claims stems partly from their incomprehensibility. The claims presented in scientific papers are often so dense and abstruse as to be unapproachable by all but specialists. Undoubtedly many people trust scientists because of their specialized education, their knowledge of mathematics, their special equipment, and their […]