Science 

Some exoplanets orbiting red giant stars may just be a mirage

A trick of the lightQAI Publishing/Getty By Leah Crane Some exoplanets around red giant stars may be no more than an optical illusion. Variations in starlight that appear to be caused by orbiting worlds could come from ripples in the stars’ surfaces instead. One method for finding stars relies on measuring changes in the star’s velocity as an orbiting planet makes it wobble back and forth. Because those movements are too small to detect directly, we find them by looking for how they affect the colour of the star’s light. William…

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Science 

New ALIEN planets discovered by ‘citizen scientists’ revealing shock discoveries

GETTY The study was popularised by Brian Cox in Stargazing Live The discovery of the “K2-128 system” was published in a new paper using data from the K2 Mission, using the Kepler space telescope, which has observed over 280,000 stars in three years. Unfortunately, the telescope suffered a series of hardware failure and could no longer operate the way it was initially intended, so the scientists initiated a crowdsourcing project called Exoplanet Explorers. The project was developed by Jessie Christiansen from the California Institute of Technology and Ian Crossfield, an…

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Science 

NASA billion dollar ‘TIME MACHINE’ will soon launch to begin search for Alien life

The telescope, which is worth £6.5billion, has been successfully tested in anticipation of its launch in 2019. Engineers working on the project are confident it will be able to capture starlight in focus and track astronomical targets. The James Webb telescope has been described as a ‘time machine’ that could help unravel the secrets of our universe. The telescope will be used to look back to the first galaxies born in the early universe more than 13.5billion years ago, and observe the sources of stars, exoplanets, and even the moons…

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Science 

Citizen scientists discover five-planet system

In its search for exoplanets — planets outside of our solar system — NASA’s Kepler telescope trails behind Earth, measuring the brightness of stars that may potentially host planets. The instrument identifies potential planets around other stars by looking for dips in the brightness of the stars that occur when planets cross in front of, or transit, them. Typically, computer programs flag the stars with these brightness dips, then astronomers look at each one and decide whether or not they truly could host a planet candidate.

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Science 

Hidden exoplanets could be revealed by echoing light

A shadow may not be the only way to spot alien worldsNASA, ESA, L. Calçada By Shannon Hall Echoes can reveal the unseen. Similar to how a killer whale can “see” through pitch-black water by bouncing high-frequency sound waves off objects, we could use light to discover exoplanets. Whenever a star emits a bright flare of radiation, some of its light may reach Earth where astronomers will measure a burst of brightness – but the display isn’t over. Because the light emanates in all directions, it will also head towards…

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Space 

Camera focus shift won’t affect TESS mission

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Scientists are confident a focus issue discovered last year with an upcoming NASA exoplanet mission won’t affect its ability to meet its goals. NASA confirmed last July that the focus in the four cameras on the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) would drift once the cameras cool after launch to operating temperatures. At the time, the agency said that it believed that the issue would not be a major issue for the mission, although other astronomers expressed concern it could affect the spacecraft’s ability to detect…

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Space 

Astronomers meet amid questions about the status of NASA flagship missions

WASHINGTON — Scientists gathering this week for the country’s largest astronomy meeting will discuss plans for future space telescopes, while raising questions about the status of upcoming missions. More than 3,000 people are expected to attend the 231st Meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) at National Harbor, Maryland, for a week of scientific presentations as well as mission and policy updates from NASA and the National Science Foundation. Astronomers come to the meeting as NASA’s next two flagship astrophysics missions, the James Webb Space Telescope and Wide-Field Infrared Survey…

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Science 

Tides and atmospheres on TRAPPIST-1 planets may help life thrive

The TRAPPIST-1 exoplanets are lava worlds and ice ballsNASA By Leah Crane The outer planets of the TRAPPIST-1 system might be better for life than we thought. Their cores are stretched by gravity, which generates heat, and there’s a possibility these exoplanets have atmospheres, so the outermost planets could be warmer and wetter than we thought, maybe even with air. We have very little data on the TRAPPIST-1 planets. We know their distances from their star and one another, and their approximate sizes and masses. Based on this limited information,…

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Science 

6 of the most remarkable space moments of 2017

From the astonishing solar eclipse that captivated millions across America to the end of the 20-year long Cassini spacecraft mission, 2017 was an astounding year for space discoveries.  Below are six of the most remarkable moments in space that have occurred in the last 12 months. The Great American Total Solar Eclipse  On Aug. 21, a total solar eclipse crossed the United States for the first time in nearly 100 years. Millions of Americans were able to witness this cosmic hiccup where the moon blocked out the sun, revealing hidden layers…

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Technology 

Genes to geoengineering: 4 science stories to watch in 2018 – CNET

The past year saw breakthroughs that changed how we see and feel the universe at the largest scales and also could revolutionize how we manipulate the tiniest bits of our own bodies to heal ourselves. But 2018 looks to be one heck of a follow-up year to 2017 when it comes to science. From opening new fronts in the battle to slow climate change to becoming much closer to our computers, here are four areas that’re sure to advance in the next 12 months. TESS could map the places worth…

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