Astronomers using the Magellan Telescope are studying HD 106906 b

NASA Astronomers find Giant Planet Orbiting at an Extreme Distance from Parent Star

Astronomers using the Magellan Telescope are studying HD 106906 b
HD 106906 b is the first exoplanet astronomers have found orbiting at such an extreme distance from its parent star

Planet’s orbit is a little extreme

The Magellan Telescope is truly impressive to view
The giant Magellan Telescope provides astronomers with important data

Astronomy News – Astronomers working with an infrared camera mounted on the Magellan Telescope located in the Atacama Desert in Chile recently detected an exoplanet orbiting its parent star at the greatest distance recorded to date. This massive alien planet, designated HD 106906 b, has a mass at least 11 times larger than Jupiter and circles its parent sun in an orbit 650 times the average orbital distance of Earth from our sun. These facts are making astronomers rethink current theories on planet formation, since no current planet or star formation model explains how these extreme planets can exist.

HD 106906 b is at least 11 times more massive than Jupiter
HD 106906 b is many times more massive than Jupiter

Current planet formation theories don’t explain how it’s possible for huge planets to form at such an extreme distance from their parent sun. Astronomers have suggested such planets could be formed in a process similar to binary star formation. But there are still holes in this idea, although astronomers are excited to find things aren’t quite the way they predicted. They have been studying planet HD 106906 b, because this planet is only 13 million years old and is still hot from the process of formation. This gives astronomers the perfect opportunity to develop a new theory to explain what they see.

Find out more about NASA at http://www.nasa.gov/.

Watch this YouTube video on how astronomers are finding exoplanets here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBDzuyLV_7I.

Can NASA astronomers detect extraterrestrial moons orbiting distant suns? Read this article to find out https://spaceshipearth1.wordpress.com/2013/12/31/searching-for-extraterrestrial-moons/.

Read about the latest discovery in the search for life beyond Earth https://spaceshipearth1.wordpress.com/2013/12/25/the-search-for-life-beyond-earth-takes-a-turn-at-jupiter/.

Read about the latest images of the solar system sent back by the Cassini spacecraft https://spaceshipearth1.wordpress.com/2013/12/22/cassini-spacecraft-show-views-of-the-solar-system-in-natural-color/.

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Planets! Planets! It’s Full of Planets!

Planets! Planets! It's full of planets!
Planets! Planets! It’s full of planets!

The portion of the sky the Hubble Space Telescope is currently looking at is full of planets both big and small

Astronomy News – One of the greatest things about being an astronomer is the excitement of mystery and wonder you feel every time you discover something you never even suspected. This must have been the feeling running through the minds of astronomers looking at the data provided by the Hubble Space Telescope indicating the presence of planets around distant stars. The rush of adrenalin as they went over the data they had worked and waited for must have been truly euphoric.

The Hubble Space Telescope helped us discover the cosmos is full of planets
The Hubble Space Telescope helped us discover the cosmos is full of planets

What kind of planets would they find? Smaller rocky worlds like Earth, larger gas planets like Jupiter, or some unusual planet never before dreamed of. All of their hard work and dedication to the task-at-hand is about to open a door of discovery to worlds of wonder. Worlds with environments unlike anything we have experienced on Earth, where life we could never envision might have evolved. This is why astronomers spend countless days, weeks, months and ultimately lives studying the sky above our heads.

Rocky planets like Earth are starting to be found also
Rocky planets like Earth are starting to be found also

Astronomers see a sky full of planets

The small portion of the sky being studied by astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope is full of planets. Some appear to be of a similar rocky composition to our home planet while others appear to be totally inhospitable to Earth-type life. Planets like Earth are thought to be mainly composed of rocky material, which is denser and thus heavier than the materials making up gas planets. The planets being found orbiting stars in the portion of the sky being surveyed by Hubble are helping to rewrite planet formation theory and other areas of astronomical study. Astronomers are finding planets of types they were expecting to find, and a few they weren’t expecting to see.

Gas planets composed mainly of carbon dioxide!
Gas planets composed mainly of carbon dioxide!

The first planets found by the Hubble Space Telescope were large gas giants, like Jupiter and Saturn, but more recent finds have included planets similar in size and possible composition to Earth. Astronomers want to study Earth-like planets in an effort to uncover more secrets concerning the birth of our own solar system and the planet, which could give us clues to the development and evolution of Earth-like life in our universe. More recent developments even include the first direct imaging of a planet orbiting a distant star.

A planet has now been seen orbiting a distant star
A planet has now been seen orbiting a distant star

The truly amazing part is Hubble is only surveying a portion of the sky with around 100,000 suns and we’re finding more and more planets as astronomers continue to refine their planet finding techniques and instruments. Once we extrapolate and calculate the number of possible planets, using the available data so far gathered, we find the number of possible planets to be beyond count.

Most of the planets found have been within 300 light years of Sol
Most of the planets found have been within 300 light years of Sol

Astronomers will use the James Webb Space Telescope to journey to the beginning of space and time

During the 2013 human space odyssey, astronomers explored a portion of the night sky with the Hubble Space Telescope and exclaimed. It’s full of planets! In the years ahead during the human journey to the beginning of space and time, we expect astronomers to discover undreamed-of worlds, revolving around suns we humans can’t even conceive of. Especially once the James Webb Space Telescope comes online we should expect to visit undreamed of planets.

This is the Near Infrared Spectrograph for the James Webb Space Telescope, which will be used to try to find more planets
This is the Near Infrared Spectrograph for the James Webb Space Telescope, which will be used to try to find more planets

Best to buckle your seatbelt and prepare for the ride of your life! The human journey to the beginning of space and time is about to take off to planets beyond imagination. In the months and years ahead we expect to visit worlds with environments we would find inhospitable at best. Worlds where human survival would be doubtful and any life we found would be unusual beyond imagination.

Click this link to watch a YouTube video on weird planets in the universe.

Weirdest Planets

Read about NASA’s Messenger spacecraft and its mission to Mercury

Have you heard about the recent meteorite that exploded near the Ural Mountains

Read about the supernova astronomers are studying looking for a black hole they think was created during the explosion

Cradle for a New Human Genesis

    The search for a new home for human life has started

Astronomers are looking for blue planets inside their home stars life zone
Planets with water are the goal of astronomers

Astronomy will be the next great science

Astronomy News – The search for planets capable of acting as a cradle for a new human genesis has begun. Astronomers are searching the night sky above you for planets circling distant stars within what space scientists refer to as a stars life-zone or habitable-zone. This zone is at an orbital distance from a star allowing for the formation of the elements necessary for Earth-based life to exist. In the search for planets capable of supporting Earth-based life, astronomers are mainly looking for water.

Only looking for planets with the elements we know can support Earth-based life could be putting human-made limitations on the search for habitable planets and the creation of life that will prevent us from seeing the whole picture. Life-on-Earth has always shown itself to be adaptable, unpredictable and totally uncontrollable, and the environments life could evolve in are probably beyond current human imagination. Space scientists conducting computer simulations of planetary systems indicate that the variables that determine the life-zone of a star and its suitability for human life are just being studied and discussed. Water could exist in a usable form for the creation of life during specific periods of time on a planet’s surface for Earth-like planets close to a Jupiter-size planet orbiting in a highly elliptical orbit. A description that fits many of the exoplanets discovered, so far, space scientists note.

We could find that human life is more adaptable than we first thought

Planets with the necessary ingredients to support human-based life are hard to find

A highly perturbed orbit could result in an Earth-like planet experiencing long time-periods of freezing and heating temperatures, with a period of ideal weather for the creation of life, squeezed in between. Hardly the ideal situation for human life and this simulation is only one of the possible exotic habitats we could find on our “Journey to the Beginning of Space and Time”. Human life could be walking on planets in the centuries ahead where the length of a day varies wildly, the seasons are unrecognizable, and the year just seems to go on forever.

The crazy zoo-of-planets astronomers are discovering in the night sky is threatening to break the human-made shackles we have attempted to put upon them. The environmental conditions on one or some of these planets could one day provide the elements for a new human genesis that could shatter the foundations of belief systems across planet Earth. Environments capable of supporting human evolution and the development of higher life forms? Astronomers and space scientists have taken another step forward to discovering an answer to this question and astrobiologists are currently continuing the search for a second-Earth for humankind.

Astronomy buffs need to check out the Planetary Zoo

Read about NASA’s Messenger spacecraft and its mission to Mercury

Have you heard about the recent meteorite that exploded near the Ural Mountains

Read about the supernova astronomers are studying looking for a black hole they think was created during the explosion

Caelumi Plensaum gen Lumeninis ” It’s Full of Stars”

 Take a walk into the darkness of a cold, clear night, far from the glare of interfering lights

The first astronomers thought they saw god in the night sky

Astronomy News – the first astronomers –

This image of the far cosmos shows a cosmic maelstrom of hot, glowing gas and dark dust within the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) called stellar nursery N159 over 160,000 light-years toward the Tarantula Nebula (heic 1402). An HII region about 150 light-years across, this region of space contains scores of hot young stars emitting intense ultraviolet light causing nearby hydrogen gas to glow. Torrential cosmic winds within the heart of this region have carved out ridges, arcs, and filaments from the surrounding material creating a butterfly-shaped region of nebulosity called the Papillon Nebula. Credits: NASA/ESA/Hubble Space Telescope

Take a walk deep into the darkness of a cold, clear night, far from the glare of interfering human light, and you can gaze upward at a night sky filled with stars-of-wonder, much like your first ancestors did for the first time thousands of years in the past. Lay the back of your head on the cold Earth for a few hours and stare deeply into the vastness of the night sky before your eyes and watch the stars parade across the sky as they have since the birth of spaceshipearth1. Your mind will be sharing common thoughts and feelings of awe, wonder, and smallness with the billions of humans that have witnessed this scene and thousands of generations of star-gazing ancestors that walked the Earth before you.

Modern astronomy has shined the light of discovery on the cosmos

Astronomers suspect rare galaxies, like the one seen above, are extremely dusty and often produce radio jets called relativistic jets when two smaller galaxies merge. This artist’s rendition shows an illustration of just such a merger. Credits: NASA/Hubble/ESA

Thousands of years after the time of these star-gazing ancestors, modern science has managed to shine the light of discovery on many questions concerning the universe we live in and the true role humans play in the grand cosmic-play that’s unfolding before your eyes. The relative age of the Earth has been determined in relation to the universe and scientists delve deeper into the mystery of how the seemingly simple starting ingredients of the cosmic womb can lead to the rich diversity of life on one dusty ball of water far from Nowhere. We will embark on a cosmic journey of discovery from the beginning of time to the present day as we survey the contents of the night sky close to spaceship Earth, measure the scale and majesty of the universe in human terms, and the relative motion of the Earth as it travels through space and time to its ultimate destination. This cosmic journey will allow your mind to develop a larger picture of the universe around you as human scientists understand it and provide you with the knowledge and understanding that can serve as a framework upon which you can build your mental model of the universe and determine your part in the grand cosmic play in which you find yourself. 

An Earth-centred universe

This beautiful image of the sky near the bright star Deneb (just above center) reveals the stars, nebulae, and dark clouds along the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy as seen from the northern hemisphere (near Columbia Missouri, USA). Just below Deneb lies the suggestively shaped North America emission nebula. Deneb is the brightest star in the constellation Cygnus, located in the tail of this celestial swan. Cygnus contains the asterism known as the Northern Cross and marks one side of the “Great Rift” in the Milky Way, a series of dark obscuring dust clouds which stretches on through the constellation Sagittarius. Deneb defines the top of the Northern Cross while the body of the cross extends past the upper right corner of the picture. Cygnus also harbors the most famous candidate for a black hole in our galaxy, Cygnus X-1. Credits: Hubble/ESA/NASA

After staring in wonder at the mystery of the stars above your head for a time it will be easy to understand how our ancestors looking upward at a sun, stars, moon and planets that relative to your point of view seem to revolve around spaceship Earth believed the Earth was the center of the known universe and all we survey. The heavenly bodies above your head will appear to circle above you as you stare upwards at the night sky and you won’t feel the spinning motion of the moving Earth beneath you as it spins on its axis through the cold darkness of space and time. These facts make it easy to believe and develop a belief system with the Earth at the center and humans standing on the pedestal of supremacy in the universe.

A sun-centered solar system

In the intervening years since our common star-gazing ancestors first starred upwards in wonder at the night sky, scientists have determined that spaceship Earth is a nondescript little ball of dusty water circling an average sun among an infinity of space and time taking part in a cosmic dance that has continued unabated for billions of years. The human journey through space and time to the present moment in the history of planet Earth and the universe has been filled with pitfalls we as a race have managed to avoid until this moment in the history of space and time. Humans have for the most part managed to change ancient beliefs in an Earth-centered universe that once seemed firmly based in common sense and logic to a more modern view of the universe around us. Science has provided the verifiable facts we need to determine the truth of human experience and strengthen natural bonds to the vast universe you see before your eyes in ways our first star-gazing ancestors could never imagine. This has allowed scientists to develop a cosmic picture of the universe as our senses experience it that can allow us to create a mental picture of the real universe we journey through on a daily basis. Take a cosmic journey of discovery and wonder as we travel through space and time to the beginning of the universe and back again and shine the light of discovery on mysteries deep in the minds and hearts of all humans that have walked the Earth since mankind first starred upward in wonder and awe at the night sky above your head and return to the place of our birth, the stars above us.

The Milky Way galaxy

In terms of the part humans have played and still play in the big picture of the universe, the Earth we live on is one of a number of planets circling the sun we call Sol, along with thousands of asteroids and comets that make up our solar system and the uncountable number of dust particles floating between them. The universal address of the Sol system is the Milky Way galaxy, just past the half-way point from the center of the galaxy to the edge of the galactic disc. Just one of  billions or possibly a trillion stars or more making up the Milky Way galaxy that shines their energy into the cold darkness of space, Sol is an average sun, just like billions you can see looking up into the night sky above you. A nondescript, average-looking ball of hydrogen and helium easily overlooked among the infinity of stars that make up the island of suns space scientists refer to as the Milky Way galaxy. The Milky Way is, in fact, a rather large galaxy in comparison to the galaxies that are part of what space scientists call the Milky Way’s local supercluster of galaxies. Just one of a seeming infinity of galaxies space scientists see as they journey visually into the cold darkness of space and time before you, the Milky Way galaxy is part of the 40 or more galaxies space scientists refer to as the local group of galaxies in the part of the universe we reside. 

Just an insignificant dusty little ball of water

The night sky you see above you might appear to be web-like in nature, with galaxies and clusters arranged in huge sheets and chains of stars that seemingly go on forever and ever. Pockets of stars are dotted across the sky before your eyes, forming giant stellar bodies called superclusters of galaxies that in the case of the Milky Way galaxy are referred to as the local group of the Milky Way galaxy, with vast voids of space and time separating them containing occasional lone galaxies. The universe before your eyes is made up of the sum total of the matter and energy contained within the superclusters and voids between them and there are humans that believe this fact makes human existence and the Milky Way galaxy relatively insignificant in the bigger picture of the universe and space and time. The human ability and desire to continuously delve into the mysteries of the universe around us and improve our place in the cosmic picture could be the difference that tips the balance in favor of humans being a significant contributor to the universe, though, despite our relative insignificance in the cosmic picture before your eyes. 

The miracle of life?

One question you might be pondering as you stare into the vastness of the night sky above your head is how did the young human race come to be born amid the seeming infinity of space and time before your eyes? Modern science tells us we humans are a relative newcomer to the endlessness of space and time and the battle for survival on planet Earth. The journey upon which we embark will examine the evidence presented by scientists to support the belief in the relative insignificance of Sol, the planet Earth, and the miracle of the birth of sentient life on one little ball of dusty water in the universe. The first part of the journey we undertake will take us through the history of the development of present theories and evidence presented by space scientists to support their belief in the relative insignificance of all we know and believe to be true and important.

An expanding universe

Looking upward into the vastness of space and time of the night sky above it isn’t possible to ascertain that space scientists have determined the stars in the galaxies above you are speeding away from each other at a rate that has been measured relative to the universe you see. Scientists have measured the relative rate at which the distances between the galaxies above you’re increasing with the passage of time. The important point in this fact is that if the universe around us is expanding, all of space and time you see above you must have once been closer together. Relative estimates calculated by space scientists indicates this rate of expansion must have started at least 14 billion years in the past. This beginning of the universe space scientists have called the Big Bang, and while overall the universe has continued to expand unabated, there are areas in the vastness of space and time where the force of gravity has overcome the force of expansion created by the Big Bang. This is significant because it means that while the galaxies above you in the night sky continue to speed away from the center of the Big Bang individually, the parts within galaxies are not expanding relative to one another. In contrast, galaxies and galaxy clusters continue to expand relative to one another, despite the force of gravity pulling them together and to form into larger clumps of gas and dust, which space scientists have dubbed stars and planets. The forming of large clumps of gas and dust is part of what space scientists call the life cycle of the stars, planets, and galaxies, and although these stellar bodies are not life forms as space scientists define them, they do go through a life cycle of sorts that scientists have documented and analysed at length.

Read about the present news on the search for life beyond Earth https://spaceshipearth1.wordpress.com/2013/12/25/the-search-for-life-beyond-earth-takes-a-turn-at-jupiter/.

View the latest in high definition images of the solar system provided by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft https://spaceshipearth1.wordpress.com/2013/12/22/cassini-spacecraft-show-views-of-the-solar-system-in-natural-color/.

We tell you about the astronomy highlights upcoming for 2014 https://spaceshipearth1.wordpress.com/2013/12/19/2014-the-journey-ahead/.