Friday, May 27, 2011

Understanding Dark Matter: What We Don't Know

I saw this great video on Boing Boing and thought I'd share in light of the new dark planets discovery. I've read comments on a few sites that the rogue, Jupiter-like planets must help explain the massive amounts of dark matter out there in the universe. Judging by what I've read elsewhere--and this cool animated film--it's more complicated than meets the eye. Stuff like this is part of the reason I love astronomy, it's still new and we still don't know a lot!


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

BILLIONS of rogue planets in the Milky Way may outnumber stars!

Astronomer's have made a startling discovery that there are "hundreds of billions" of orphaned, Jupiter-sized planets in our galaxy. In fact, these free-floating orbs may outnumber the stars! From NYT:
There are two Jupiter-mass planets for each of the 200 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy, according to measurements and calculations undertaken by an international group of astronomers led by Takahiro Sumi, of Osaka University in Japan, and reported in the journal Nature.

“It’s a bit of a surprise,” said David Bennett, a Notre Dame astronomer, who was part of the team. Before this research, it was thought that only about 10 or 20 percent of stars harbored Jupiter-mass planets. Now it seems as if the planets outnumber the stars.
I wonder if they also have moons like the gas giants in our neck of the woods. At least one of the scientists seems to postulate as much, From Nature:
Planetary scientist David Stevenson at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena has considered how the temperatures on ejected planets might compare with those on star-bound bodies2. If Jupiter were kicked out of the Solar System, its surface temperature would drop by only about 15 kelvin, he says – although it would still be unsuitable for supporting life. However, "when you eject a planet that is quite massive, it could have carried along an orbiting body", Stevenson adds. "And that might be a more attractive possibility for life."

Unbound Earth-mass planets might still be capable of carrying liquid water, Stevenson says, even in the frozen reaches of interstellar space – as long as they have a heat-trapping hydrogen atmosphere. "That can bring the surface temperature up to 300 kelvin [about 27 °C]," he says. "And then you can have oceans."
What's your take on these newly discovered orphan worlds?

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Friday, May 6, 2011

Some inspriational tools for story ideas...

I've been updating the Inspiration page of late with a few recent finds. One in particular that I think it really wonderful is the Scirus, a great search tool for science links and information. The site casts a wide net on different disciplines and you can narrow by abstract, articles--event patents.

I used it recently and found an interesting page on Archeology Anomolies, a thorough list of controversial discoveries and topics. I'm not advocating a particular stance here--just pointing out some sources to get the ol' Muse singing in your minds eye. Fair warning, it's long and you'll likely need to Google terms yourself, but it's enough to get you started.

In case that's too geeky, there's a handful of other links I sprinkled in on a variety of history, archeology, science, and other areas of interest. If you've got some you particularly enjoy, feel free to comment below and I'll look at adding them to the Inspiration page. This is a resource I'd like to expand and eventually organize.

Thanks and enjoy!

Amazing Timelapse Video of the Milky Way

The Mountain from Terje Sorgjerd on Vimeo.

Photography blog Shuttersalt says:
Terje Sorgjerd, the photographer behind the viral video The Aurora, has done it again. Here, Sogjerd captures the Milky Way over El Teide, Spain’s highest mountain.
You can also click through to see how the video was made.