A team of planet hunters estimates that about 22 percent of the Sun-like stars in our galaxy may have planets about the size of Earth that are bathed in similar amounts of sunlight — and potentially habitable. That's the conclusion of a new analysis by Erik Petigura, a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley of observations taken by NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, which was launched in 2009 to hunt for potentially habitable Earth-like planets around other stars.
"Kepler 78b, a planet some 400 light-years away, is like hell on earth. Astronomers described it on Wednesday as the first Earth-size planet that seems to be made of the same mixture of rock and iron as Earth, and that orbits a star similar to our sun. At that close proximity, the surface of Kepler 78b is infernally hot: 3,500 to 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit, or ... “Exoplanets are just surprising us with their diversity,” said Dimitar D. Sasselov, a professor of astronomy at Harvard and a member of Dr. Pepe’s team, using the name for planets outside our solar system.
Referring to them as "an array of the most brilliant," David Bjerklie and the editors of Time Magazine in a photo-centric supplement entitled The 25 Most Influential People in Space named Avi Loeb, Dave Charbonneau, Adam Reiss and Sara Seager for their contributions to astronomical research.
What is dark matter? Well, we know what it's probably not: black holes. Astronomy Chair, Avi Loeb, and several colleagues decided to test the idea whether or not smallish black holes could be the source of the universe's dark matter, and Time Magazine's Michael Lemonick has written an excellent overview of their conclusions.
Professor Bob Kirshner celebrates the successful casting of the third of seven mirrors for the Giant Magellan Telescope which the Dean of FAS, Michael Smith, has just approved as a major funding-raising focus for the University. The casts are made under the University of Arizona football stadium overseen by the Steward Observatory there.
Are the inhabitants of Earth the only life forms in the universe, or could life exist elsewhere? As astronomers rapidly identify exoplanets—those beyond our solar system—the question has been transformed from a science-fiction trope to one discussed in scientific journals and conferences according to Professor of Astronomy, Dimitar Sasselov.
More than 12 billion years ago a star exploded, ripping itself apart and blasting its remains outward in twin jets at nearly the speed of light. At its death it glowed so brightly that it outshone its entire galaxy by a million times. Associate Professor Edo Berger and Ryan Chornock, a scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, were able to gear up quickly to collect data on it's afterglow just hours after it was detected by NASA's Swift spacecraft on June 6th.
A gamma-ray burst is a flash of high-energy light (gamma rays) from an extremely energetic explosion. Associate Professor of Astronomy Edo Berger, Harvard graduate student Wen-fai Fong and Ryan Chornock recently observed data from a gamma-ray burst GRB 130603B which, at a distance of 3.9 billion light-years from Earth, is one of the nearest bursts seen to date.
Astronomers have found a planetary system orbiting the star Kepler-62. This five-planet system has two worlds in the habitable zone — the distance from their star at which they receive enough light and warmth for liquid water to theoretically exist on their surfaces.
Science Magazine wrote a biographical article on Avi Loeb. From Cosmic Dawn To Milkomeda, And Beyond: The thoughts of Harvard theorist Avi Loeb traverse the universe, past and future—and he urges young researchers to be just as daring (pdf)
Astronomy Department Chair Avi Loeb discussed the findings from the European Space Agency’s Planck satellite program that showed the universe as being a little older, containing a bit more mysterious dark matter, and expanding more slowly than previously thought.
Read this article in the Harvard Gazette that features Avi Loeb.
Cambridge, MA - The star Eta Carinae is ready to blow. 170 years ago, this 100-solar-mass object belched out several suns' worth of gas in an eruption that made it the second-brightest star after Sirius. That was just a precursor to the main event, since it will eventually go supernova.
“The nearest Earth-like planet is probably 13 light-years away; astronomically speaking, that’s just a stroll across the park,” said Courtney Dressing (right), a doctoral student in Harvard’s Astronomy Department. At the press conference Dressing was joined by Professor David Charbonneau (center) and John Johnson, an assistant professor of astronomy at the California Institute of Technology.