November 4, 2013 |
There's no place like home, but scientists now say that Earth-size planets orbiting sun-like stars in a so-called habitable zone are so common that there could be as many as 11 billion in the Milky Way alone. Using a clever method to detect Earth-size exoplanets they may have missed, astronomers calculated that 1 in 5 stars like the one at the center of the solar system hosts a planet capable of holding liquid water on its surface and - if it had the right chemical ingredients - supporting life.
November 4, 2013 |
So scientists now believe that about 1 in 5 stars similar to the sun has a planet somewhat like Earth orbiting it. Meaning, I suppose, that there's probably more than one Miley Cyrus in this big universe of ours. A report published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences gives the details : The Milky Way (the galaxy, not the candy bar, for you non-scientific types) alone could be home to tens of billions of planets that have liquid surface water; better yet, the nearest one might be only 12 light-years away (too far for us to get to it, but close enough for the incredibly advanced beings on it to get to us; think, hopefully, “E.T.” and not “Independence Day”)
November 4, 2013 |
Is the Earth a “cosmic freak” or a planetary average Joe around our galactic neighborhood? UC Berkeley astronomer Geoff Marcy says we're in good company. With some clever sleight of hand, scientists using Kepler data have calculated that a whopping one in five Sun-like stars has an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone - and, if they have the right chemical ingredients on board, could be capable of supporting life. The kicker? The nearest one may lie just 12 light-years away.
October 30, 2013 |
Astronomers have discovered a world that is incredibly close to Earth-sized and may also be made of rock and iron, like our own planet. The only problem? It's a scorched hellscape of molten lava that sits less than a million miles from its star's surface, and it shouldn't exist in the first place. This planet defies astronomers' expectations even as it lends hope that increasingly Earth-like planets may be found (though hopefully farther away from their parent stars, in more bearable climes)
October 10, 2013 |
The free-floating planet is just 80 light-years from Earth and about six times the size of Jupiter. It is young - about 12 million years old. And unlike any other planet that has ever been discovered, it is not in orbit around a host star. "This thing is floating in space like our sun floats in space," said Eugene Magnier o f the University of Hawaii at Manoa, coauthor of a study about the lonely planet. "It is drifting around through the galaxy. " Astronomers are not yet sure how this rogue planet came to be out there in space, all by itself.
October 3, 2013
Re "A dry spell for forest lovers," Oct. 1 In the past The Times has been viciously criticized for publishing graphic depictions of violence in troubled parts of the world. Readers have labeled such images disgusting and obscene. Tuesday's photograph of the graffiti-besmirched Sapphire Falls in the San Bernardino National Forest registers as even more repulsive. Closing high-risk fire areas during the most dangerous time of year, as has been done with Sapphire Falls, seems like a wise and pragmatic decision.
October 2, 2013 |
Scientists have discovered that a huge, gassy exoplanet called Kepler-7b is covered with patchy clouds of silicates that might even rain liquid rock -- even though it's within scalding distance of its parent star. The findings, set to be published in Astrophysical Journal Letters, are the first to map cloud structures on a world beyond our solar system and could one day be used to study clouds on smaller, more Earth-like planets. The planet Kepler-7b, whose star sits in the constellation Lyra, was one of the earliest discoveries using NASA's now-hobbled Kepler space telescope . “We consider it a hot Jupiter because it's very close to its star," Demory said.
September 22, 2013 |
It's easy to grasp that in a national park, balance must be maintained between predators and prey, lest the ecosystem crash. But when we're talking about our own species, it gets harder. The notion that there are limits to how much humanity this parkland called Earth can bear doesn't sit easy with us. The "nature" part of human nature includes making more copies of ourselves, to ensure our genetic and cultural survival. As that instinct comes in handy for building mighty nations and dominant religions, we've set about filling the Earth, rarely worrying that it might one day overfill.
September 20, 2013 |
In "The World Without Us," Alan Weisman took readers for a romp through the misty primeval forest in Poland and splashed into gin-clear waters to gaze upon one the most remote and intact coral reefs in the Pacific Ocean. Besides highlighting a few of the world's last remaining pristine places, the bestseller engaged in a thought experiment: If human beings were suddenly wiped off the face of Earth, how fast would nature overgrow cities with vegetation, reclaim the land, and demonstrate its remarkable resilience?
September 20, 2013 |
Sometime between 1.75 billion and 3.25 billion years from now, our planet is going to be too hot to support life, according to a new study in the journal Astrobiology. When that happens, whatever life forms are around may want to move one planet over and set up camp on Mars. "We think that Mars will probably be our best bet once the Earth gets too hot," study leader Andrew Rushby of the University of East Anglia in Britain told the Los Angeles Times. Rushby is interested in how long planets can remain in the habitable zone around their sun. That's the zone with just the right conditions for liquid water to exist on the planet's surface. If a planet is too close to the sun, high temperatures would cause every drop of water to evaporate; too far away, and the planet is an icy wasteland.