Monday, March 3, 2014

715 new exoplanets in this week's space and astronomy news

I begin with the top story from Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (715 New Exoplanets) on Daily Kos.  First, Science At NASA with ScienceCasts: A Sudden Multiplication of Planets.

Today, NASA announced a breakthrough addition to the catalog of new planets. Researchers using Kepler have confirmed 715 new worlds, almost quadrupling the number of planets previously confirmed by the planet-hunting spacecraft. Some of the new worlds are similar in size to Earth and orbit in the habitable zone of their parent stars. also has an article: Population of Known Alien Planets Nearly Doubles as NASA Discovers 715 New Worlds by Mike Wall, Senior Writer, on February 26, 2014 01:01pm ET.
NASA's Kepler space telescope has discovered more than 700 new exoplanets, nearly doubling the current number of confirmed alien worlds.

The 715 newfound planets, which scientists announced today (Feb. 26), boost the total alien-world tally to between 1,500 and 1,800, depending on which of the five main extrasolar planet discovery catalogs is used. The Kepler mission is responsible for more than half of these finds, hauling in 961 exoplanets to date, with thousands more candidates awaiting confirmation by follow-up investigations.

"This is the largest windfall of planets — not exoplanet candidates, mind you, but actually validated exoplanets — that's ever been announced at one time," Douglas Hudgins, exoplanet exploration program scientist at NASA's Astrophysics Division in Washington, told reporters today.
DarkSyde on Daily Kos also wrote about the discovery in This week in science: All these dirty worlds are yours.

Follow over the jump for the rest of last week's space and astronomy news.

NASA: Global Precipitation Satellite Launched on This Week @NASA

The Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission's Core Observatory launched from Japan's Tanegashima Space Center on February 27, Eastern Standard Time. The joint NASA and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency effort uses the Core Observatory as the anchor of a network of international satellites designed to provide next-generation observations of rain and snow worldwide every three hours. Data from the mission will help study climate change, freshwater resources, and natural hazards such as floods, droughts, and hurricanes. Also, Monitoring California's drought, Spacewalk mishap report, Orion test article at Langley, More Kepler planets and Hubble supernova photo!
The Punch (Nigeria): The archaeology of the stars
by New York Times Service
February 25, 2014
Four years ago, Anna Frebel, a young astronomer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, found an ancient star in a neighboring galaxy whose chemical composition proved nearly identical to some unusual stars on the outskirts of our own galaxy, which are older than the Milky Way itself.

It was a striking discovery, suggesting that the relatively young Milky Way is growing by conquest — “cannibalising” nearby older dwarf galaxies. And it underscored the importance of a new way of learning how the universe evolved from the Big Bang to the modern cosmos.
If this story looks familiar, it's because there was another article about "the archeology of the stars" in Space news for the last week of February.

Finally, a story about an astronaut, if not space proper, from the University of Michigan: Former astronaut Mae Jemison to speak at U-M.
Former NASA astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison—the first woman of color to go into space aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour—will give the keynote address at the 32nd annual Women of Color Task Force Career Conference.

The conference, "Transforming the Face of Leadership," is the largest staff development event at the University of Michigan.

As an environmental studies professor at Dartmouth College, Jemison taught and researched technology design and sustainable development with special emphasis on developing countries.
That's it for last week's space news.


  1. Hi Folks, Instead of gettin a Flame War going (after just Joinin up), I'll just suggest y'all read Eric Lerner's magnificent book (which should at least win some kind of prize for excellent historical literature, if not a Nobel Prize): "The Big Bang Never Happened." It's a comprehensively researched & referenced work on the fields of advanced plasma physics, leading edge-astrophysics & astronomy, and plasma cosmology. It actually makes sense of things like dwarf galaxies being transported our way by colossal cosmic filaments of plasma (full of super clusters, etc.) so our "relatively young Milky Way is growing by conquest — “cannibalising” nearby older dwarf galaxies." Trust me, Lerner is no raving wank, nor a mere science writer. He's one of the best plasma physicists since his pioneering mentor, Nobel Prize winner Hannes Alfven. I think you too will be glad you read it.

    1. Interesting. Before reading that book, I recommend my readers examine the author's Wikipedia page for a "neutral point of view": Eric Lerner.

      Also, here is a defense of the Big Bang against Lerner's critique from a professor at one of my alma maters: Errors in the "The Big Bang Never Happened".

      Finally, here is a comment on a paper in Lerner's area of expertise: <a href=">Not even wrong, Fusion Energy at Lawrenceville Plasma Physics</a>.

      "Not even wrong" is a bad thing to be in science.

    2. I forgot to close the quotes in that last link. Here it is properly formatted: Not even wrong, Fusion Energy at Lawrenceville Plasma Physics