Author Topic: Astronomy Thread  (Read 113390 times)

Offline Star One

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Re: Astronomy Thread
« Reply #640 on: 01/16/2019 08:01 pm »
Bizarre Superfluid Could Explain the Existence of the Modern Universe

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Scientists still aren't sure. But researchers have figured out a new way to model in a lab the sort of defect that could have caused the great unbalancing of the early universe. In a new paper, published today (Jan. 16) in the journal Nature Communications, scientists showed that they can use supercooled helium to model those first moments of existence — specifically, to re-create one possible set of conditions that may have existed just after the Big Bang.




Offline Star One

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Re: Astronomy Thread
« Reply #641 on: 01/17/2019 08:51 pm »
Asteroid strikes 'increase threefold over last 300m years'

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The rate at which asteroids are slamming into Earth has nearly tripled since the dinosaurs first roamed, according to a survey of the scars left behind.

Researchers worked out the rate of asteroid strikes on the moon and the Earth and found that in the past 290m years the number of collisions had increased dramatically.

Before that time, the planet suffered an asteroid strike about once every 3m years, but since then the rate has risen to once nearly every 1m years. The figures are based on collisions that left craters at least 10km (6.2 miles) wide.

Quote
The question now is whether the rate of asteroid strikes is still rising, or perhaps falling back to a lower level. Either way, Ghent believes there is no cause for alarm. “Because large impacts are very rare in the first place, even if you double or triple the probability they are still very rare,” she said.

Here’s the paper.

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/363/6424/253

Offline Star One

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Astronomy Thread
« Reply #642 on: 01/17/2019 08:56 pm »
Scientists to Inaugurate Prototype Schwarzchild-Couder Telescope at Whipple Observatory in Preparation for First Light

Amado, AZ & Cambridge, MA -
Expected to see first light in early 2019, a prototype Schwarzschild-Couder Telescope (pSCT) for gamma-ray astronomy will be unveiled in a special inauguration event on January 17, 2019 at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory (FLWO) in Amado, Arizona.

Exploiting a novel optical design, the 9.7-m aperture pSCT is a pathfinder telescope for use in the next-generation very-high-energy gamma-ray observatory, the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA), for which construction will begin in 2019.

"The inauguration of the pSCT is an exciting moment for the institutions involved in its development and construction," said CTA-US Consortium Chair David Williams, a professor of physics at the University of California, Santa Cruz. "The first of its kind in the history of gamma-ray telescopes, the SCT design is expected to boost CTA performance towards the theoretical limit of the technology."

The SCT's complex dual-mirror optical system improves on the single-mirror designs traditionally used in gamma-ray telescopes by dramatically enhancing the optical quality of their focused light over a large region of the sky, and by enabling the use of compact, highly-efficient photo-sensors in the telescope camera.

"Ultimately, the SCT is designed to improve CTA's ability to detect very-high-energy gamma-ray sources, which may also be sources of neutrinos and gravitational waves," said Prof. Vladimir Vassiliev, Principal Investigator, pSCT. “Once the SCT technology is demonstrated at FLWO, it is hoped that SCTs will become a part of at least one of the two CTA arrays, located in each of the northern and southern hemispheres."

The CTA Observatory (CTAO) will consist of 118 telescopes of three different sizes, and is expected to detect sources of gamma rays in the energy range 20 GeV to 300 TeV with about ten times increased sensitivity compared to any current observatory. Notable for providing improved gamma-ray angular resolution and its very-high-resolution camera (>11,000 pixels), the SCT is proposed for the medium-sized CTA telescopes, and will primarily contribute to the middle (80 GeV – 50 TeV) of CTA's energy range.

"The SCT and other telescopes at CTA will greatly improve upon current gamma-ray research being conducted at HAWC, HESS, MAGIC, and VERITAS, the last of which is located at the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory," said Dr. Wystan Benbow, Director, VERITAS. "Gamma-ray observatories like VERITAS have been operating for 12 to 16 years, and their many successes have brought very-high-energy gamma-ray astronomy into the mainstream, and have made many exciting discoveries. We hope CTA will supersede VERITAS around 2023, and it will be used to continue to build upon the 50 years of gamma-ray research at the Whipple Observatory and elsewhere."

About pSCT

The SCT optical design was first conceptualized by U.S. members of CTA in 2006, and the construction of the pSCT was funded in 2012. Preparation of the pSCT site at the base of Mt. Hopkins in Amado, AZ, began in late 2014, and the steel structure was assembled on site in 2016. The installation of pSCT’s 9.7-m primary mirror surface —consisting of 48 aspheric mirror panels—occurred in early 2018, and was followed by the camera installation in June 2018 and the 5.4-m secondary mirror surface installation—consisting of 24 aspheric mirror panels—in August 2018. Leading up to the inauguration and in preparation for first light, scientists opened the telescope’s optical surfaces in January 2019. The SCT is based on a 114 year-old dual-mirror optical system first proposed by Karl Schwarzschild in 1905, but only recently became possible to construct due to the critical research and development progress made at both the Brera Astronomical Observatory and Media Lario Technologies Incorporated in Italy. The pSCT was made possible by funding through the U.S. National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation program and by the contributions of thirty institutions and five critical industrial partners across the United States, Italy, Germany, Japan, and Mexico.

For more information visit https://www.cta-observatory.org/project/technology/sct/
« Last Edit: 01/17/2019 08:58 pm by Star One »

Offline Star One

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Re: Astronomy Thread
« Reply #643 on: 01/18/2019 08:08 pm »
From emergence to eruption: Comprehensive model captures life of a solar flare

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A team of scientists has, for the first time, used a single, cohesive computer model to simulate the entire life cycle of a solar flare: from the buildup of energy thousands of kilometers below the solar surface, to the emergence of tangled magnetic field lines, to the explosive release of energy in a brilliant flash.

Offline Star One

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Re: Astronomy Thread
« Reply #644 on: 01/18/2019 08:30 pm »
Making Stars When the Universe was Half Its Age
Friday, January 18, 2019
Science Update - A look at CfA discoveries from recent journals
The universe is about 13.8 billion years old, and its stars are arguably its most momentous handiwork. Astronomers studying the intricacies of star formation across cosmic time are trying to understand whether stars and the processes that produce them were the same when the universe was younger, about half its current age. They already know that from three to six billion years after the big bang stars were being made at a rate roughly ten times faster than they are today. How this happened, and why, are some of the key questions being posed for the next decade of research.

Star formation in a galaxy is thought to be triggered by the accretion of gas from the intergalactic medium (gas accretion via mergers between galaxies is thought to play a relatively minor role in the total numbers of stars produced). In galaxies that are actively making stars there is a tight relationship between their mass in stars and their rate of forming new stars, and this relationship approximately holds not only locally but even back when the universe was billions of years younger. In contrast, galaxies that are undergoing an active starburst - or the opposite, the quenching of star formation - fall above and below that relation respectively. The relationship supports the general picture of galaxy growth by gas accretion, except that for some reason smaller galaxies – those with fewer than about ten billion stars – seem to make slighter fewer stars than expected for their masses (the Milky Way is right at the turnover, with about ten billion stars and a rate of roughly one new star per year). A particularly significant consequence of this paucity, if real, is that simulations of galaxy growth do not show it, implying that the simulations are incorrect for smaller galaxies and that some physics is missing.

CfA astronomer Sandro Tacchella is a member of a team that used the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer instrument on the VLT (Very Large Telescope) to obtain optical spectra of galaxies in the famous Hubble Deep Field South image of galaxies. They measured stellar emission lines in 179 distant galaxies in the field and used them to calculate the star formation behaviors after corrections for effects like dust extinction (which can make some of the optical lines appear weaker than they are). The find that the puzzle of depleted star formation in small galaxies is real at a level of roughly 5% even when accounting for noise and scatter in the data caused, for example, by galaxy evolution effects. The authors suggest that some kind of previously unaccounted for feedback may be responsible.

Reference(s):
"The MUSE Hubble Ultra Deep Field Survey XI. Constraining the low-mass end of the stellar mass – star formation rate relation at z < 1," Leindert A. Boogaard, Jarle Brinchmann, Nicolas Bouché, Mieke Paalvast, Roland Bacon, Rychard J. Bouwens, Thierry, Madusha L. P. Gunawardhana, Hanae Inami, Rafaella A., Michael V. Maseda, Peter Mitchell, Themiya Nanayakkara, Johan Richard, Joop Schaye, Corentin Schreiber, Sandro Tacchella, Lutz Wisotzki, and Johannes Zabl, Astronomy & Astrophysics 619, A27 2018.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Astronomy Thread
« Reply #645 on: 01/18/2019 09:04 pm »
https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-00172-3?error=cookies_not_supported&code=0fbfd04c-3804-4bea-8f53-cd3c4a907749

NEWS 16 January 2019
US astronomers plot wish list for the next decade
Survey to set field’s priorities is haunted by ghosts of past efforts.


« Last Edit: 01/18/2019 09:04 pm by Blackstar »

Offline SciNews

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Re: Astronomy Thread
« Reply #646 on: 01/22/2019 11:47 am »
Impact on the Moon during the Jan.21 lunar eclipse

https://twitter.com/jmmadiedo/status/1087639073899073536

Offline Star One

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Re: Astronomy Thread
« Reply #647 on: 01/22/2019 08:53 pm »
Lifting the Veil on the Black Hole at the Heart of Our Galaxy
Release No.:
2019-04
For Release:
Tuesday, January 22, 2019 - 12:00pm

Cambridge, MA -
A black hole four million times as massive as our Sun lurks at the center of the Milky Way. This black hole, called Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*), swallows nearby material that glows brightly as it approaches the event horizon. This galactic furnace is key to understanding black holes, but our view of it is obscured by lumpy clouds of electrons throughout the Galaxy. These clouds stretch, blur, and crinkle the image of Sgr A*, making it appear as though the black hole is blocked by an enormous sheet of frosted glass.

Now, a team of astronomers, led by Radboud University PhD student Sara Issaoun, have finally been able to see through these clouds and to study what makes the black hole glow. Issaoun completed this work while participating in the Predoctoral Program at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, MA.

"The source of the radiation from Sgr A* has been debated for decades," says Michael Johnson of the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard and Smithsonian (CfA). "Some models predict that the radiation comes from the disk of material being swallowed by the black hole, while others attribute it to a jet of material shooting away from the black hole. Without a sharper view of the black hole, we can’t exclude either possibility."

The team used the technique of Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI), which combines many telescopes to form a virtual telescope the size of the Earth. The decisive advance was equipping the powerful ALMA array of telescopes in northern Chile with a new phasing system. This allowed it to join the GMVA, a global network of twelve other telescopes in North America and Europe.

"ALMA itself is a collection of more than 50 radio dishes. The magic of the new ALMA Phasing System is to allow all these dishes to function as a single telescope, which has the sensitivity of a single dish more than 75 meters across. That sensitivity, and its location high in the Andes mountains, makes it perfect for this Sgr A* study," says Shep Doeleman of the CfA, who was Principal Investigator of the ALMA Phasing Project.

"The breakthrough in image quality came from two factors," explains Lindy Blackburn, a radio astronomer at the CfA. "By observing at high frequencies, the image corruption from interstellar material was less significant, and by adding ALMA, we doubled the resolving power of our instrument."

The new images show that the radiation from Sgr A* has a symmetrical morphology and is smaller than expected – it spans a mere 300 millionth of a degree. "This may indicate that the radio emission is produced in a disk of infalling gas rather than by a radio jet," explains Issaoun, who tested computer simulations against the images. "However, that would make Sgr A* an exception compared to other radio-emitting black holes. The alternative could be that the radio jet is pointing almost directly at us."

Issaoun's supervisor Heino Falcke, Professor of Radio Astronomy at Radboud University, was surprised by this result. Last year, Falcke would have considered this new jet model implausible, but recently another set of researchers came to a similar conclusion using ESO's Very Large Telescope Interferometer of optical telescopes and an independent technique. "Maybe this is true after all," concludes Falcke, "and we are looking at this beast from a very special vantage point."

To learn more will require pushing these telescopes to even higher frequencies. "The first observations of Sgr A* at 86 GHz date from 26 years ago, with only a handful of telescopes. Over the years, the quality of the data has improved steadily as more telescopes join," says J. Anton Zensus, director of the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy.

Michael Johnson is optimistic. "If ALMA has the same success in joining the Event Horizon Telescope at even higher frequencies, then these new results show that interstellar scattering will not stop us from peering all the way down to the event horizon of the black hole."

The results were published in The Astrophysical Journal.

This research was supported by grants from the European Research Council, the National Science Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and the John Templeton Foundation. ALMA is a partnership of ESO (representing its member states), NSF (USA) and NINS (Japan), together with NRC (Canada), MOST and ASIAA (Taiwan), and KASI (Republic of Korea), in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. The Joint ALMA Observatory is operated by ESO, AUI/NRAO and NAOJ. This research made use of data obtained with the Global Millimeter VLBI Array (GMVA), consisting of telescopes operated by the Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie (MPIfR), IRAM, Onsala, Metsahovi, Yebes, the Korean VLBI Network, the Green Bank Observatory and the Long Baseline Observatory (LBO). The GMVA is partially supported by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No 730562 (RadioNet). The VLBA is an instrument of the LBO, which is a facility of the National Science Foundation operated by Associated Universities, Inc. This work is partly based on observations with the 100-m telescope of the MPIfR at Effelsberg.

Headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian (CfA) is a collaboration between the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Harvard College Observatory. CfA scientists, organized into six research divisions, study the origin, evolution and ultimate fate of the universe.

Offline Star One

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« Last Edit: 01/22/2019 09:03 pm by Star One »

Offline Star One

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Re: Astronomy Thread
« Reply #649 on: 01/23/2019 08:22 pm »
Physicists stimulate Hawking radiation from optical analogue of a black hole

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Stephen Hawking liked to claim that, if his most famous prediction had been verified experimentally, he would have won a Nobel prize. The prediction was that, as he once put it, “black holes ain’t so black”. These stars, which collapse to an infinitely dense singularity, can emit intense radiation from just outside their event horizon – the point of no return beyond which even light can’t escape from the intense gravity.

Offline Star One

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Re: Astronomy Thread
« Reply #650 on: 01/24/2019 08:36 pm »
Scientists Explain Formation of Lunar Dust Clouds

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Physicists from the Higher School of Economics and Space Research Institute have identified a mechanism explaining the appearance of two dusty plasma clouds resulting from a meteoroid that impacted the surface of the Moon. The study was published in JETP Letters.

Offline CuddlyRocket

Re: Astronomy Thread
« Reply #651 on: 01/25/2019 03:01 am »
Claim that two exoplanets are in the same orbit (trojans):

Co-orbital exoplanets from close period candidates: The TOI-178 case (arXiv)

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(Abstract)
Despite the existence of co-orbital bodies in the solar system, and the prediction of the formation of co-orbital planets by planetary system formation models, no co-orbital exoplanets (also called trojans) have been detected thus far. Here we study the signature of co-orbital exoplanets in transit surveys when two planet candidates in the system orbit the star with similar periods. Such pair of candidates could be discarded as false positives because they are not Hill-stable. However, horseshoe or long libration period tadpole co-orbital configurations can explain such period similarity. This degeneracy can be solved by considering the Transit Timing Variations (TTVs) of each planet. We then focus on the three planet candidates system TOI-178: the two outer candidates of that system have similar orbital period and had an angular separation near π/3 during the TESS observation of sector 2. Based on the announced orbits, the long-term stability of the system requires the two close-period planets to be co-orbitals. Our independent detrending and transit search recover and slightly favour the three orbits close to a 3:2:2 resonant chain found by the TESS pipeline, although we cannot exclude an alias that would put the system close to a 4:3:2 configuration. We then analyse in more detail the co-orbital scenario. We show that despite the influence of an inner planet just outside the 2:3 mean-motion resonance, this potential co-orbital system can be stable on the Giga-year time-scale for a variety of planetary masses, either on a trojan or a horseshoe orbit. We predict that large TTVs should arise in such configuration with a period of several hundred days. We then show how the mass of each planet can be retrieved from these TTVs.

The claimed co-orbital planets both appear to have radii greater than that of Earth. This has implications for the planet/dwarf planet distinction, so I've cross-posted this to the 'Pluto-Planet debate discussions' thread for those interested.

Offline jgoldader

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Re: Astronomy Thread
« Reply #652 on: 01/25/2019 02:50 pm »
This is an interesting article about an analysis of a small rock returned by Apollo 14, that suggests the rock might actually have formed on Earth.  The idea is that the rock formed on Earth, then was blasted into space by one of the large impacts that were common during planetary formation, and ended up on the Moon.  I remember reading a journal article some years ago looking at the possibility that there are pieces of the early Earth and Mars on the lunar surface. 

https://phys.org/news/2019-01-moon-recovered-astronauts-earth.html?utm_source=menu&utm_medium=link&utm_campaign=item-menu

Because of tectonics and erosion, there's basically none of the Earth's primordial crust actually left on Earth, but perhaps we can find pieces on the Moon.
Recovering astronomer

Offline Star One

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Re: Astronomy Thread
« Reply #653 on: 01/28/2019 07:27 am »
The First-Ever Photo of a Black Hole Is Almost Ready. Here's What It Might Look Like

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But long before the EHT, there was an astrophysicist named Jean-Pierre Luminet. All the way back in 1978, he already gave us what could be thought of as the very first image of a black hole's event horizon.

It's not, of course, an actual photo. Luminet, whose background was in mathematics, used his skillset to perform the first computer simulation of what a black hole might look like to an observer, using a 1960s punch card IBM 7040 computer.

Offline Star One

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Astronomy Thread
« Reply #654 on: 01/28/2019 05:57 pm »
It seems the universe is expanding even faster than thought before as measured by quasars rather than supernovae.

Cosmological constraints from the Hubble diagram of quasars at high redshifts]https://www.nature.com/articles/s41550-018-0657-z]Cosmological constraints from the Hubble diagram of quasars at high redshifts

The concordance model (Λ cold dark matter (ΛCDM) model, where Λ is the cosmological constant) reproduces the main current cosmological observations1,2,3,4 assuming the validity of general relativity at all scales and epochs and the presence of CDM and of Λ, equivalent to dark energy with a constant density in space and time. However, the ΛCDM model is poorly tested in the redshift interval between the farthest observed type Ia supernovae5 and the cosmic microwave background. We present measurements of the expansion rate of the Universe based on a Hubble diagram of quasars. Quasars are the most luminous persistent sources in the Universe, observed up to redshifts of z ≈ 7.5 (refs. 6,7). We estimate their distances following a method developed by our group8,9,10, based on the X-ray and ultraviolet emission of the quasars. The distance modulus/redshift relation of quasars at z < 1.4 is in agreement with that of supernovae and with the concordance model. However, a deviation from the ΛCDM model emerges at higher redshift, with a statistical significance of ~4σ. If an evolution of the dark energy equation of state is allowed, the data suggest dark energy density increasing with time.
« Last Edit: 01/28/2019 06:59 pm by Star One »

Online eeergo

Re: Astronomy Thread
« Reply #655 on: 01/29/2019 12:56 am »
How will the foreseeable gap between JWST/WFIRST and the next-generation space telescopes be spanned in the US? NSF funding for ground-based astronomy to the rescue: Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) and Thirty-Meter Telescope (TMT).

https://spacenews.com/the-future-of-space-based-astronomy-may-depend-on-two-large-ground-based-telescopes/
-DaviD-

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Re: Astronomy Thread
« Reply #656 on: 01/29/2019 06:09 am »
A bit technical, but I found this critical look at what is in fact a 30-year-old field extremely interesting for those of us who weren't around (scientifically, at least) at the time:

A personal recollection of how we learned to stop worrying and love the Lambda

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[...] we should remember that we once endowed SCDM with the same absolute certainty we now attribute to ΛCDM. I was there, 3,000 internet years ago, when SCDM failed. There is nothing so sacred in ΛCDM that it can’t suffer the same fate, as has every single cosmology ever devised by humanity.

https://tritonstation.wordpress.com/2019/01/28/a-personal-recollection-of-how-we-learned-to-stop-worrying-and-love-the-lambda/
-DaviD-

Offline Star One

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Astronomy Thread
« Reply #657 on: 01/29/2019 08:09 pm »
Shows you how much amateur equipment has advanced in recent times.

Astronomers Discover Rare Kilometer-Sized Object in Outer Solar System

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Scientists have discovered a tiny object in the Kuiper belt beyond Neptune, a kilometer-scale world that could shed light on how planets formed in the early days of the solar system.

The find—which marks the first time that a world smaller than ten kilometers has been detected in this part of the solar system—seems like it would require high-resolution telescopes like the 10-meter Keck Observatory in Hawaii. However, it was actually spotted by two modest “amateur telescopes,” according to research published Monday in Nature Astronomy.
« Last Edit: 01/29/2019 08:11 pm by Star One »

Offline whitelancer64

Re: Astronomy Thread
« Reply #658 on: 01/29/2019 08:45 pm »
Shows you how much amateur equipment has advanced in recent times.

Astronomers Discover Rare Kilometer-Sized Object in Outer Solar System

Quote
Scientists have discovered a tiny object in the Kuiper belt beyond Neptune, a kilometer-scale world that could shed light on how planets formed in the early days of the solar system.

The find—which marks the first time that a world smaller than ten kilometers has been detected in this part of the solar system—seems like it would require high-resolution telescopes like the 10-meter Keck Observatory in Hawaii. However, it was actually spotted by two modest “amateur telescopes,” according to research published Monday in Nature Astronomy.

"The astronomers used 11-inch Celestron telescopes, which are worth about $3,000 each, as well as specialized cameras and astrographs. They placed the telescopes on a school roof on Miyako Island, Japan, located off the east coast of Taiwan."

I think it's worth noting that Miyako island is pretty small, just about 10 miles across, and it's in between Okinawa and Taiwan, roughly 100 miles away from either, near the south edge of the East China Sea. There must be some nice dark skies at that location.
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Offline Star One

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Re: Astronomy Thread
« Reply #659 on: 01/29/2019 09:37 pm »
Citizen Scientists Find New World with NASA Telescope

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Using data from NASA's Kepler space telescope, citizen scientists have discovered a planet roughly twice the size of Earth located within its star's habitable zone, the range of orbital distances where liquid water may exist on the planet's surface. The new world, known as K2-288Bb, could be rocky or could be a gas-rich planet similar to Neptune. Its size is rare among exoplanets - planets beyond our solar system.