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.
Each year, the MacArthur Foundation names several dozen of the nation's most creative and influential people as MacArthur Fellows which provides funds for two years which the recipients can use toward any purpose. The Class of 2013 awardees includes Harvard alumna Sara Seager.
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.
The Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning works to advance the quality of undergraduate education by providing Harvard’s teachers with resources, programs and support that promote excellence in teaching. Each semester it recognizes with a Certificate of Distinction in Teaching those student instructors whose work is exemplary based on peer evaluations.
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.