Alien Planet Kepler 78b –A Mystery World that Baffles Astronomers

Alien Planet Kepler-78b \”is a complete mystery,\” says astronomer David Latham of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics CfA. \”We dont know how it formed or how it got to where it is today. What we do know is that its not going to last forever.\”Kepler-78b is a planet that shouldnt exist. This scorching lava world circles its star every eight and a half hours at a distance of less than one million miles – one of the tightest known orbits. According to current theories of planet formation, it couldnt have formed so close to its star, nor could it have moved there.\”Kepler-78b is going to end up in the star very soon, astronomically speaking,\” agrees CfA astronomer Dimitar Sasselov. \”It couldnt have formed in place because you cant form a planet inside a star. It couldnt have formed further out and migrated inward, because it would have migrated all the way into the star. This planet is an enigma,\” explains Sasselov.Not only is Kepler-78b a mystery world, it is the first known Earth-sized planet with an Earth-like density. Kepler-78b is about 20 percent larger than the Earth, with a diameter of 9,200 miles, and weighs almost twice as much. As a result it has a density similar to Earths, which suggests an Earth-like composition of iron and rock. The tight orbit of Kepler-78b poses a challenge to theorists. When this planetary system was forming, the young star was larger than it is now. As a result, the current orbit of Kepler-78b would have been inside the swollen star.

via Alien Planet Kepler 78b –A Mystery World that Baffles Astronomers.

“Our Star-Trek Future” –NASA Scientists Engineering a Warp-Drive Solution for Faster-Than-Light Space Travel (Weekend Feature)

Move over Star Trek! According to state-of-the art theory, a warp drive could cut the travel time between stars from tens of thousands of years to weeks or months. Harold G. White, a physicist and advanced propulsion engineer at NASA and other NASA engineers are trying to determine whether faster-than-light travel — warp drive — might someday be possible. The team has attempting to slightly warp the trajectory of a photon, changing the distance it travels in a certain area, and then observing the change with a device called an interferometer.

“Space has been expanding since the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago,” said Dr. White, 43, who runs the research project told the New York Times. “And we know that when you look at some of the cosmology models, there were early periods of the universe where there was explosive inflation, where two points would’ve went receding away from each other at very rapid speeds. Nature can do it,” he added. “So the question is, can we do it?”

via “Our Star-Trek Future” –NASA Scientists Engineering a Warp-Drive Solution for Faster-Than-Light Space Travel (Weekend Feature).

The Most Distant Galaxy in the Observable Universe Discovered –30 Billion Light Years from the Milky Way!

The image above from the Hubble Space Telescope CANDELS survey, highlights the most distant galaxy in the universe with a measured distance, dubbed z8_GND_5296. The most distant spectroscopically confirmed galaxy ever found — one created at about 700 million years after the Big Bang — has been detected by astronomers at Texas A&M University and the University of Texas at Austin.

The researchers suspect they may have zeroed in on the era when the universe made its transition from an opaque state in which most of the hydrogen is neutral to a translucent state in which most of the hydrogen is ionized. So it’s not necessarily that the distant galaxies aren’t there. It could be that they’re hidden from detection behind a wall of neutral hydrogen fog, which blocks the hydrogen emission signal.

The astronomers note that this is one of two major changes in the fundamental essence of the universe since its beginning — the other being a transition from a plasma state to a neutral state. He is leading the effort on a follow-up paper that will use a sophisticated statistical analysis to explore that transition further.

“Everything seems to have changed since then,” said Vithal Tilvi, a Texas A&M postdoctoral research associate and co-author of the paper now available online.“If it was neutral everywhere today, the night sky that we see wouldn’t be as beautiful. What I’m working on is studying exactly why and exactly where this happened. Was this transition sudden, or was it gradual?”

Our home galaxy, the Milky Way, creates about one or two Sun-like stars every year or so. But this newly discovered galaxy forms around 300 a year. It was observed by the researchers as it was 13 billion years ago. Because the universe has been expanding the whole time, the researchers estimate the galaxy’s present distance to be roughly 30 billion light years away. The detected emission line at a wavelength of 1.0343 micrometres is likely to be Lyman α emission, placing this galaxy at a redshift z = 7.51, an epoch 700 million years after the Big Bang.

via The Most Distant Galaxy in the Observable Universe Discovered –30 Billion Light Years from the Milky Way!.

“Other Universes are Pulling on Our Universe” — New Planck Data Triggers Controversy Todays Most Popular

Is our universe merely one of billions? Evidence of the existence of multiverse revealed for the first time by a cosmic map of background radiation data gathered by Planck telescope. The first hard evidence that other universes exist has been claimed to have been found by cosmologists studying new Planck data released this past June. They have concluded that it shows anomalies that can only have been caused by the gravitational pull of other universes.\”Such ideas may sound wacky now, just like the Big Bang theory did three generations ago,\” says George Efstathiou, professor of astrophysics at Cambridge University.\”But then we got evidence and now it has changed the whole way we think about the universe.\”Scientists had predicted that it should be evenly distributed, but the map shows a stronger concentration in the south half of the sky and a cold spot that cannot be explained by current understanding of physics. Laura Mersini-Houghton, theoretical physicist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Richard Holman, professor at Carnegie Mellon University, predicted that anomalies in radiation existed and were caused by the pull from other universes in 2005. Mersini-Houghton will be in Britain soon promoting this theory and, we expect, the hard evidence at the Hay Festival on May 31 and at Oxford on June 11.

via “Other Universes are Pulling on Our Universe” — New Planck Data Triggers Controversy Todays Most Popular.