Space

 NASA Kepler Mission

If we were aliens, would we be able to detect Earth, using the technology we have now?

This morning, a large active region on the sun erupted with another X-class flare, its fourth since Oct. 24th. 

Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth's atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground, however -- when intense enough -- they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel.


The first images of a nova during its early fireball stage - when it ejects material and gases expand and cool - have been delivered from a nova that erupted last year in the constellation Delphinus.  

A nova occurs after a thin layer of hydrogen builds up on the surface of a white dwarf--a highly evolved star with the mass of the sun packed into the volume of the Earth. A normal star accompanies the white dwarf in a binary star system, providing that hydrogen as the two stars orbit each other.


A team of astronomers recently reported discovering a pulsating star that appears to shine with the energy of 10 million suns. A pulsar is a type of rotating neutron star that emits a bright beam of energy that regularly sweeps past Earth like a lighthouse beacon.

What are the odds finding another one so bright? According to one of the paper's authors, quite good. 

Professor Deepto Chakrabarty of the Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says he is optimistic that astronomers will find additional ultra-bright pulsars now that they know such objects exist.


The expanding thermonuclear fireball of a nova is a staple of movies and fiction but last year one was witnessed in the constellation Delphinus with unprecedented clarity. The observations produced the first images of a nova during the early fireball stage and revealed how the structure of the ejected material evolves as the gas expands and cools. 



A new paper suggests that planets from the remnants of the universe's earliest stars could have supported life on dim, warm planets. Credit: NASA/WMAP Science Team

By: Ker Than, Inside Science

(Inside Science) -- Life in the universe could be much older than previously thought, forming as early as fifteen million years after the Big Bang, according to a provocative new idea proposed by a Harvard astrophysicist.

While studying the atmosphere on Saturn's moon Titan, scientists discovered intriguing zones of organic molecules unexpectedly shifted away from its north and south poles. These misaligned features seem to defy conventional thinking about Titan's windy atmosphere, which should quickly smear out such off-axis concentrations.

"This is an unexpected and potentially groundbreaking discovery," said Martin Cordiner, an astrochemist working at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and the lead author of a study published online today in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. "These kinds of east-to-west variations have never been seen before in Titan's atmospheric gases. Explaining their origin presents us with a fascinating new problem."