So far, our search for Martians and other extraterrestrial forms of life hasn't quite panned out, but that doesn't stop us from continuing to look. Now astronomers at the University of Hertfordshire in England have discovered a new system of planets, which in many ways are remarkably similar to our own neighborhood and may even support life.
This little smudge doesn't look like much now, but it's a newly discovered comet that's heading towards the sun. C/2012 S1, as it's known, will make its closest pass in November of next year, by which point astronomers are predicting that it may appear brighter than a full moon. Much brighter.
Bill Nye. Neil deGrasse Tyson. Pamela Gay. Lawrence Krauss. Phil Plait. If you're not totally geeking out right now, I don't know what the heck is wrong with you. These luminaries all got together at TAM11 in July to talk about Our Future in Space, and the video is worth watching if you like science. SCIENCE!
We live inside a universe, that much is (more or less) certain. What's less certain is what exists outside our universe, but scientists now think that they might have spotted evidence of other universes, four of which seem to have smashed into us.
Don't look now, but our entire planet is busily chasing after an asteroid a thousand feet across that's preceding the Earth in its orbit. It's the first known Earth-orbit example of what are called Trojans, and like other promiscuous planets (I'm looking at you, Jupiter), it now appears that Earth's got 'em.
At precisely 3 p.m. Eastern Time tomorrow, the largest full moon in 18 years will show its ginormous self. The moon will be so close to Earth that it's already being called a "supermoon" when it gets its act on.
The University of New Mexico is leading a project to provide high-resolution images of the sky with an innovative new radio telescope array. The first station will have 256 antennas with plans for a total of 53 stations and more than 13,000 antennas all keeping an eye on the sky.
The European Southern Obervatory's Very Large Telescope array sits on top of a mountain in Chile, where it's so dark and clear that you can see your shadow cast by the light from the Milky Way. This is great, but it doesn't help see past all the dust surrounding the galaxies themselves. For that, they've got an ultra-sensitive infrared camera that strips away the haze to reveal the structure of galaxies in exquisite detail.
The conditions required for a world to be inhabitable like our own make finding one nearly impossible. It has to be a certain distance from the sun, there's the atmosphere to consider, air quality, number of moons — well, you get the idea. Amazingly, we may have just found one.
A major part of scouring the galaxy for alien lifeforms is listening for planets that our like ours, and signals like the ones we produce — radio waves, for instance. Astronomer Seth Shostak thinks we'd have a better chance if we started looking for more advanced life.