We’re kicking off the week with intriguing stories from our Universe beyond–from exoplanets in the ancient, densely populated bulge of the Milky Way to the mystery of eternal brown dwarfs to the soon approaching, long awaited launch of the iconic Hubble spacecraft’s successor.
Another amazing week in our Universe beyond –from a new type of habitable planet to China’s plan for a spacecraft 30 times the size of the ISS to the new reality of UFOs and the detection of gravitational waves that could be from dark matter particles.
Perhaps someday in the near future the first signal from an alien intelligence will be detected by artificial intelligence. The future of artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms for finding exoplanets hidden in datasets was paved by one such algorithm developed by the University of Texas at Austin in partnership with Google in 2019 to probe the entire Kepler 2 data set of approximately 300,000 stars. The method is equally applicable to Kepler’s successor planet-hunting mission, TESS, which launched in April 2018.
“In 2003 we derived the properties of a planet that was orbiting a white dwarf star and a neutron star binary near the core of the ancient globular star cluster M4, located 5,600 light-years away in the summer constellation Scorpius using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, precisely measuring the mass of the oldest known planet in our Milky Way galaxy,” astrophysicist Harvey Richer told The Daily Galaxy. At an estimated age of 13 billion years, the planet is more than twice as old as Earth’s 4.5 billion years.
The closest stars to the Earth are also some of the best studied celestial objects. In Astrophysics, distance makes all the difference. The closer an object is, the more light we will be able to glean from it. Stars come in different types (masses, chemical compositions, ages), but the closest example of each type will be a critical object to study. In this article we review five fast facts about the closest systems to the Earth and what they mean for astrophysical studies.
Planets beyond our own solar system were once thought to be out of the reach of humans. The idea that we could detect worlds beyond our own or even that worlds beyond on our own might be there was questioned. But once the first few worlds were found, the flood gates were opened and the zoo of exoplanets started to reveal itself. While there is much to say about the plethora of planets we now know exist around other stars, this article will give four general fast facts about our current exoplanet understanding.