Carnival of Space #230

Firstly, here is: Carnival of Space #230—the Podcast! (go right click—Save As... to download)

 

Or just go with the usual text version below:

 

The Carnival of Space was created in 2007 by Henry Cate of the Homeschooling Blog and who then gave it to Fraser Cain of Universe Today and now it is continued by Brian Wang of Next Big Future. If you'd like to be a host for the carnival—or contribute to it, why not send Brian an email at blwang@gmail.com.

 

Drop something?

Ian O’Neill from Discovery News reports on the mysterious metallic ball that fell from the sky in Namibia. Turns out it’s a COPV—a composite overwrapped pressure vessel which would have stored gas under pressure on some kind of human-built spacecraft. We are yet to hear which one—Ian suggests either NASA or ESA will eventually be putting their hand up.

 

Planet toast

Meridiani Journal tells the story of the latest two Earth-like exoplanets to be found by the Kepler spacecraft (full version available here). These exoplanets are orbiting the star KOI 55, a largely burnt-out star that is has already gone through its red dwarf stage and is now a briefly-bright sub-dwarf B star, before it fades further to become just another white dwarf. Prior to going red giant it’s possible that KOI 55 was a F, or even a G type star like the Sun, and it is the case that the two planets are between 0.7 and 0.9 astronomical units from the star. This means that both planets were engulfed and deep fried when the star went red giant.

 

But before you start thinking that this might make them potential Krypton candidates, consider that the deep frying process would have reduced the original planets’ sizes—indeed if Earth had gone through such a process, it’s unlikely there would be anything left of it. So what we have here are what were probably a couple of tepid-hot Jupiters, cooked over a scorching hot flame for a few million years and then left to cool. Two charred bits of planet toast—that just happen to be about the same size as Earth.

 

Big year for AAVSO

Simostronomy (that ‘s Mike Simonsen) runs us through the highlights for the AAVSO in 2011—that’s the American Association of Variable Star Observers. Not too surprisingly, AAVSO observed a number of variable stars over the year—but it was all a bit special since it’s their 100th year and they surpassed their 20 millionth observation. Not too shabby.

 

Name that supernovae

Simostronomy is back telling us how there can be expected to be at least 500 new supernovae discovered in 2012—which is more than one a day. So you would think the first one—to be denoted SN 2012A might be announced virtually straight away on 1 January 2012. But no, even if it’s observed on 1 January—it takes a couple of weeks to verify the finding because you have to check out the light curve that is emitted. So—what we’ll probably hear in the first couple of weeks of 2012, is confirmation of supernovae observed in December 2011, which will be denoted SN 2011(whatever).

 

Cheer up and vote

The Air and Space magazine blog provides a cheerless review of US space policy developments (or lack thereof) over 2011—the retirement of the space shuttle fleet looming large in that assessment. Outlining all this as a problem without offering an alternate solution is not altogether helpful. So, come on folks—you live in a democracy. Vote—and also vote wisely. And then advocate for space exploration. In fact, why not everybody do that. Lobby your congressperson, member of parliament, king, queen, duke and duchess. Tell them why we’ve got to fly.

 

The Great Escape (Velocity, that is)

To finish off this week’s carnival, Cheap Astronomy’ presents our esteemed colleague Julia’s contribution to the 365 Days of Astronomy for 26 December 2011. The 365 Days of Astronomy will continue in 2012.

 

And that’s it. It’s been my privilege to host yet another Carnival of Space.

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Home

Naked eye astronomy

Fun with binoculars

Cheap telescopes

Too cold outside

Cheap cosmology

Reader contributions

Cheap podcasts

What's up with Chris

Send an email

About us

Explore the universe on a shoestring

Cheap Astronomy