Friday, November 23, 2007

Cannibalistic star, unveiling atmospheres through setting suns and earliest sign of hoofed mammals and

Welcome! “Alien Life” tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation. You may notice that this and future entries are shorter than usual; career, family and book deal commitments have forced me to cut back some of my projects. Now, here’s today’s news:
g Stars - Last September, a supernova burst into a cosmic flame 100 times more intense than any event on record-and left scientists scratching their heads. Now, two new studies attempt to explain the remarkable explosion. One sets up the explosion with a cannibalistic star, while the other describes how colliding layers of jettisoned gas could outshine all other supernovae. See article.
g Abodes - Watching stars set behind a planet from space can reveal unique details about the planet's atmosphere. Researchers at ESA are using orbiting spacecraft to learn about the atmospheres of Earth, Mars and Venus. See article.
g Life - As if hidden from the paleo tooth fairy, a lone molar belonging to a hoofed mammal stayed tucked beneath a pillow of volcanic rock in central India for more than 65 million years. Recently uncovered, the tooth predates similar fossils found across the globe. See article.
g Cosmicus - Everyone's seen pictures of rockets taking off - both real ones and imaginary ones. And everyone's seen pictures of spaceplanes taking off - but they're all imaginary - because they're impossible! (or at least, be prepared for a long wait). The basic problem for designers of reusable space vehicles is achieving the velocity needed to reach orbit without carrying so much fuel that the vehicle is either too heavy to get there or unable to carry anything other than fuel. So the answer is either to make the vehicle very light, or to find a way around having to carry all that fuel. See article.
g Learning - A new search engine will soon turn your night sky images into powerful research data and identify the twinkling objects in them with just the click of a button. See article.

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