Tag Archive: Stars


Kepler 21b

The National Optical Astronomy Observatory announced on Wednesday the discovery of Kepler-21b, a new planet that’s close to the size of earth and is only about 352 light years away.

“By astronomical standards, that’s right next door,” Katy Garmany, the Deputy Press Officer at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory.

Astronomers frequently discover new planets (according to Time magazine, we’re up to over 2,000), but Garmany said that what’s exciting about Kepler 21-b is that the planet is relatively Earth-sized. While its mass is about 10 times the size of our planet, its radius is only 1.6 times the size of Earth’s.

“Until a few years ago, the smallest extra-solar planet that we had discovered was the size of Jupiter or Saturn, which are about ten times bigger than the Earth,” Garmany said. “Now we’re getting down to something almost the size of the Earth, showing that we have the technology to find the earth-size planets.”

The new planet has a star that’s just a bit bigger and hotter than Earth’s sun, although it’s substantially younger. But because the planet is so close to its star, it’s far too hot to have liquid water, the base for life as we know it. At only 6 million kilometers (about 3.7 million miles) away from the star, Kepler-21b’s temperature is a blistering 2,960 degrees Fahrenheit, according to scientists’ estimates.

By contrast, Earth is about 150,000,000 km (93 million miles) from its own sun.

The discovery of Kepler-21b was a collaboration of both sky (the Kepler observatory) and ground-based telescopes at the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona.

Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer, writes in Discover Magazine that researchers examined the planet for 15 months. The results of the study will be published in Astrophysical Journal.

A meteor, the Milky Way and the Northern Lights. Capturing just one of these natural beauties in a photo is a feat many photographers would be proud of.

Amateur photographer Tommy Eliassen struck photo gold in this beautifully composed image he shot in Ifjord, Finnmark, Norway.

Eliassen made the photo on Sept. 25 using a Nikon D700 with a wide angle lens and long exposures between 25-30 seconds.

In an interview with Caters News, The 33-year-old, who capitalized on a narrow window of clear skies, talked about the experience.

I quickly went and took some pictures in a regular spot of mine, and thought to myself that I had got some good aurora shots and also some separate good milky way shots. But just as the clouds started to come in over the mountains I noticed this faint aurora lining up perfectly beside the milky way. Normally the lights from the aurora is much, much stronger than the lights from the stars, so getting the right exposure on both is difficult. But it was ideal conditions – almost once in a lifetime.

He was able to snap seven images of the scene before clouds moved back in.

“I was so focused on getting it right that I didn’t think about it at the time. But afterwards I realised that this was something special and that it might be years before I get an opportunity like it again,” he said. More here.

Around the world, a new generation of astronomers are hunting for the most mysterious objects in the universe. Young stars, black holes, even other forms of life. They have created a dazzling new set of super-telescopes that promise to rewrite the story of the heavens.

This film follows the men and women who are pushing the limits of science and engineering in some of the most extreme environments on earth. But most strikingly of all, no-one really knows what they will find out there.

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