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January 30, 2015

Scientists find ancient solar system in Milky Way galaxy

Scientists find ancient solar system in Milky Way galaxy

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Astronomers reported on Tuesday in The Astrophysical Journal they have found an ancient solar system with several Earth-like planets.

Artist’s concept of a rocky exoplanet (Kepler-37b). From file.

Image: NASA

They said the system dates roughly to the formation of the Milky Way galaxy. They found the planets orbiting around Kepler-444, about 117 light years from Earth. Researchers investigated Kepler-444 with NASA’s Kepler telescope using a method called astroseismology.

Scientists explain they studied the star and noticed planets passing in front of it because it created a dimming effect in which the star seems less bright for a short period of time, when there are actually planets passing between the observer and the star.

Because these planets are older than Earth, this suggests life might have existed in the early universe, the researchers say.

According to Daniel Huber, part of the research team at the University of Sydney, it takes under ten days for these five planets to orbit the star and all of them are too close to it to sustain life. These planets are smaller than Earth, with the largest compared to Venus.

This month, the number of exoplanets found using the Kepler telescope passed 1,000.


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August 18, 2011

SETI Institute set to re-open

SETI Institute set to re-open – Wikinews, the free news source

SETI Institute set to re-open

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

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SETI’s Allen Telescope Array
Image: Colby Gutierrez-Kraybill.

The SETI Institute, shut down since mid-April due to budget cuts, has announced that it will reopen in mid-September due to a recent influx of funds from several donors.

Over 2,500 donors, including actress Jodie Foster who popularized SETI (“Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence”) in the movie Contact, provided $220,000 to keep the Institute’s telescopes functioning.

“We are absolutely thrilled that thousands of people from all over the world stepped forward to declare their support for SETI science just when help was needed the most,” said SETI through a press release.

As they continue to search for long-term funding, the Institute plans to use the money to study several Kepler planets, which were discovered by NASA scientists in early February. These planets are thought to be within a certain distance from their corresponding stars to be capable of supporting liquid water and thus potential life.



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March 7, 2009

NASA successfully launches Kepler Telescope

NASA successfully launches Kepler Telescope

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Saturday, March 7, 2009

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The Kepler telescope

NASA’s Kepler Telescope, which will search for planets orbiting other stars, was successfully launched by a Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at approximately 10:51 p.m. (EST).

NASA regained the rocket’s signal at 12:11 a.m. EDT Saturday, shortly after confirming the satellite’s separation from the rocket.

According to the Kepler Mission page on NASA’s website, the telescope “is specifically designed to survey our region of the Milky Way galaxy to discover hundreds of Earth-size and smaller planets in or near the habitable zone and determine how many of the billions of stars in our galaxy have such planets.” The telescope is named after Johannes Kepler, an astronomer, astrologist and mathematician from Germany in the late 1500 and early 1600s.

The Kepler Telescope will use the ‘Transit Method’ of detecting planets. When planets pass in front of their parent star, a small black dot is cast over the star, called a transit. Transits by terrestrial planets produce a small change in a star’s brightness of about one part in ten thousand (.01%), lasting for 2 to 16 hours.

Kepler’s view is 105 square degrees and will be focused on one area all the time. It will orbit around our Sun, maintaining a constant distance from Earth of 950 miles. It will continuously and simultaneously monitor the brightnesses of more than 100,000 stars for the life of the mission, which is expected to be three and a half years.

The Milky Way Galaxy, showing Kepler’s range of view.
Image: NASA.

“Even if we find no planets like Earth, that by itself would be profound. It would indicate that we are probably alone in the galaxy,” said William Borucki, the mission’s science principal investigator.

Although planets orbiting stars other than the Sun had been theorized for centuries, it was only in 1988 that a team of Canadian astronomers made the first detection of extrasolar planets orbiting the star Gamma Cephei. Now over 300 extrasolar planets are said to have been discovered.

The launch comes just weeks after NASA’s failed launch of the Orbiting Carbon Observatory, which crashed into the ocean off Antarctica’s coast. It would have been the first spacecraft dedicated to studying atmospheric carbon dioxide, the most significant human-produced greenhouse gas and the principal human-produced driver of climate change. The cost of the project was US$273 million.



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  • “Rocket carrying NASA carbon dioxide satellite crashes into ocean” — Wikinews, February 24, 2009

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