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November 11, 2012

Carnival of Space 275

1. Weirdwarp looks at light and whether it is made up of waves or particles. This question has been around for ages. Photons which are particles of light are said to be both particles and waves by quantum theory. Physicists from the University of Bristol have backed up the quantum theory with a new demonstration using a new piece of equipment.

2. Centauri Dreams - t 42 light years from Earth, the star HD 40307 is reasonably within the Sun’s neighborhood, so the news of a potentially habitable planet there catches the eye. HD 40307 is a K-class dwarf, one previously known to be orbited by three super-Earths — with masses between the Earth and Neptune — that are too close to the star to support liquid water on the surface. Now we have the discovery, announced in a new paper in Astronomy & Astrophysics, of three more super-Earth candidates found by digging into data from HARPS (the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher) and HIRES (the High Resolution Echelle Spectrograph).








3. Chandra blog - The Milky Way and other galaxies in the universe harbor many young star clusters and associations that each contain hundreds to thousands of hot, massive, young stars known as O and B stars.

4. Yahoo - A new planet, designated as a "super-Earth," has been located orbiting the star HD 40307, a red dwarf located just over 40 light years from Earth. The planet, called HD 40307G, is orbiting in the habitable zone.

5. With Election 2012 concluded, Space.com is reporting that NASA is on the verge of making an announcement of the establishment of a deep space station at the L2 point where the gravities of the Earth and the moon cancel one another out.

6. Nextbigfuture - Exploration of Earth-moon L2 could get started as early as 2021 with the first manned flight of SLS and Orion, which NASA calls Exploration Mission 2. (Exploration Mission 1 is the initial, unmanned test launch of SLS, slated for late 2017.)

7. Examiner looks at three Republicans vying for the chairmanship of the house. With the 2012 elections over and the Republicans retaining control of the House, the chairmanship of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee is up for grabs. The current chairman, Rep. Ralph Hall of Texas, has been term limited out.

8. Examiner - NASA is beginning to build parts of the heavy lift Space Launch System using an innovative manufacturing process called selective laser melting or SLM, according to a Nov 7, 2012 story in Space-Travel.com. SLM is designed to reduce the cost of manufacture of intricate metal parts and the time from months to weeks or even days.

9. Meridiani Journal - Astronomers have discovered a new "super-Earth" exoplanet orbiting a nearby star which may be habitable...

10. Nextbigfuture - A new approach to telescopes could enable kilometer length telescope membranes to be launched with current rockets for radically improved space telescope.

Ditto showed that his Dittoscope could be conceptualized as a standard telescope capable of spectroscopy aimed at a flat grating. The standard telescope’s spectrometer has its own grating and slit. The use of the second spectrometer eliminates the overlapping spectra from the flat primary grating. Each object is thus imaged at a single wavelength at any unique angle of incidence. There are no moving parts other than the rotating Earth, with the instrument oriented east to west.

The ground based Dittoscope, then, takes advantage of the Earth’s rotation, as described in the presentation for Ditto’s Phase I study: “The precession of objects in the night sky causes their incident angles to rotate. For any incident angle there is a corresponding wavelength, so an entire spectrogram can be assembled over the course of a night.” With this enormous field of view — a 40 degree arc — millions of stars are placed within view simultaneously.




11. Centauri Dreams covered the Dittoscope first. An inventor named Tom Ditto has been casting a serious look at diffraction gratings as large primary collectors for telescopes, work that has been getting a bit of a buzz on the Internet. See, for example, An Old Idea Gives Telescopes a New Twist, and ponder how much the eponymous Dittoscope sounds like something out of a Tom Swift story. Nonetheless, an instrument based on a diffraction grating as its primary light-gathering source may prove useful in a variety of astronomical settings, including the ability to produce extremely high quality spectroscopic information for radial velocity exoplanet searches.

12. Centauri Dreams looks at a possible new way to direct imaging of exomoons.

Dr Kipping’s technique relies on the fact that moons do not simply revolve around their host planets; planets also revolve around their moons—or, rather, the two bodies both revolve around their common centre of mass. If a planet is large and its moon small the distinction is trivial. But if the planet is small and the moon is large, it is not. In the case of Earth and its moon, for example, the common centre lies only around 1,700km (1,100 miles) beneath the Earth’s surface. Someone looking from afar at the movement of Earth would thus be able to deduce the moon’s existence without having to see it directly.

13. Universe Today - Located 43 light-years away in the southern constellation Pictor, the orange-colored dwarf star HD 40307 has previously been found to hold three “super-Earth” exoplanets in close orbit. Now, a team of researchers poring over data from ESO’s HARPS planet-hunting instrument are suggesting that there are likely at least six super-Earth exoplanets orbiting HD 40307 — with one of them appearing to be tucked neatly into the star’s water-friendly “Goldilocks” zone.


14. Linksthroughspace - Scientists and sky watchers are converging on the northeast coast of Australia, near the Great Barrier Reef, for a total eclipse of the Sun on November 13/14. Join the action at Links Through Space.

15. Astroblogger - Coming up to the Solar Eclipse in Queensland


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