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Posts Tagged ‘alien’

System Proposed for Assessing Odds for Life on Other Worlds

November 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Within the next few years, the number of planets discovered in orbits around distant stars will likely reach several thousand or more. But even as our list of these newly discovered “exoplanets” grows ever-longer, the search for life beyond our solar system will likely focus much more narrowly on the relatively few of these new worlds which exhibit the most Earth-like of conditions.
For much of the scientific community, thesearch for alien life has long been dominated by the notion that our own planet serves as the best model of conditions best suited to the emergence of life on other worlds. And while there’s an undeniable logic to seeking life in the same sort of conditions in which you already know it to be successful, there are scientists like Dirk Schulze-Makuch, an astrobiologist with the Washington State University School of Earth and Environmental Sciences and Abel Mendez, a modeling expert from the University of Puerto Rico at Aricebo, who also see such a model as the product of a potentially limiting form of earthling-biased thinking.
To Schulze-Makuch and his nine fellow authors – an international working group representing, NASA, SETI,the German Aerospace Center, and four universities– the search for life on other worlds is really driven by two questions.

Full Story: http://news.wsu.edu/pages/publications.asp?Action=Detail&PublicationID=28889&TypeID=1

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Astronomers Find Extreme Weather on an Alien World

September 13, 2011 Leave a comment

Credit: Art by Jon Lomberg

Credit: Art by Jon Lomberg

A University of Toronto-led team of astronomers has observed extreme brightness changes on a nearby brown dwarf that may indicate a storm grander than any seen yet on a planet. Because old brown dwarfs and giant planets have similar atmospheres, this finding could shed new light on weather phenomena of extra-solar planets.

As part of a large survey of nearby brown dwarfs – objects that occupy the mass gap between dwarf stars and giant planets – the scientists used an infrared camera on the 2.5m telescope at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile to capture repeated images of a brown dwarf dubbed 2MASS J21392676+0220226, or 2MASS 2139 for short, over several hours. In that short time span, they recorded the largest variations in brightness ever seen on a cool brown dwarf.

Full Story: http://www.artsci.utoronto.ca/main/media-releases/astronomers-find-extreme-weather-on-an-alien-world