Probably 1/5 Sun-Like Stars Have Earth-Like Planets in Habitable Zone

Monday, November 4th, 2013

A couple of years ago, following the initial Kepler data release, I thought the numbers indicated it was at least 1/100, and likely much higher. Better statistics/analysis seem to indicate a number like 1/5: “What this means is, when you look up at the thousands of stars in the night sky, the nearest sun-like star […]

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The Impact of NASA’s Kepler Mission on Science Fiction

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

We’ve just had a major announcement concerning first results from NASA’s Kepler Mission. Before providing links to the details and reactions to the details, let me describe what the mission does and what it will continue to do.  Kepler is basically just a big digital camera in space that takes pictures of a field of […]

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Online Resources for Exoplanets

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

I’m teaching the last week of my astronomy class, and the last topic I’m covering is exoplanets: how we find them and their properties as we currently understand them.   The textbook I’m using is brand new, Foundations of Astrophysics by Ryden and Peterson, and covers some aspects of this hot subtopic pretty well, but it […]

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Science Fiction in Science: Volcanism on Giant Earths

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

It seems that massive Earth-like planets exist in other star systems, rocky bodies with masses several times higher than that of the Earth. Some scientists are trying to understand the geological structure, volcanism, outgassing, and plate tectonics. This is probably more detail than you might need to write a story, but thinking about these details […]

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