Tuesday, January 5, 2010

what's up in space lately: a roundup


· Yesterday, the Kepler team announced the discovery of five new planets in the habitable zone of sunlike stars. They're all really hot, and most likely do not harbor life. But even if they are inhospitable to life, this is good news since it is proof that the Kepler telescope works and can, in the future, find more Earth-like planets!
More at USA Today, and the official Kepler press release.

· And today the Hubble telescope found some neat stuff! Hubble has broken the distance limit for galaxies and uncovered a primordial population of compact and ultra-blue galaxies that have never been seen before. This is a pretty big deal not just because it's stuff really far away, but because that light had to travel a very long time to get to our telescope. Basically, what you see in these images are things that were really there, eons before you or I was born. We, here in the present, are getting to see a scene that is BILLIONS of years old, a moment in time inconceivably long ago. While the light from these galaxies traveled to get to us, life has risen and died out in them over and over and over and over again. We're seeing a picture of dust not unlike the stuff that eventually formed you and me. I have only been here as a human on this planet for nineteen revolutions of the planet Earth and I get to experience the unbearable significance of the entire cosmos consciously knowing itself. Words cannot describe.
You can find out more about exactly what the telescope saw and what it means at Hubble's website.

Be humble for you are made of earth.
Be noble for you are made of stars.

--Serbian proverb

No comments:

Post a Comment