Monday, August 22, 2011

The Strangest Alien Planets

By Staff @ 17 May 2011

The Smallest
Credit: NASA

This artist's concept of Kepler-10b shows the smallest known exoplanet, announced in January 2011.

The Former Champ
Credit: ESO/L. Calcada

Gliese 581 e used to hold the title of smallest alien planet. However, it was dethroned in January 2011, with the announcement of Kepler-10b.

The Biggest
Credit: Jeffrey Hall, Lowell Observatory

The largest exoplanet ever discovered is also one of the strangest and theoretically should not even exist, scientists say. Dubbed TrES-4, the planet is about 1.7 times the size of Jupiter and belongs to a small subclass of so-called puffy planets that have extremely low densities. The planet is located about 1,400 light years away from Earth and zips around its parent star in only three and a half days

Closest Alien World to Us
Credit: NASA, ESA, G.F. Benedict (University of Texas, Austin)

Epsilon Eridani b orbits an orange Sun-like star only 10.5 light years away from Earth. It is so close to us telescopes might soon be able to photograph it. It orbits too far away from its star to support liquid water or life as we know it, but scientists predict there are other stars in the system that might be good candidates for alien life.

Volcanic Nightmare
Credit: ESO/L. Calcada

This planet, CoRoT-7b, was the first confirmed rocky world outside our solar system, but it doesn't look like a particularly pleasant place to live. It is tidally locked to its parent star, sees hellish 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit (2,200 degrees Celsius). It may also rain rocks and be the core of a vaporized gas giant.

Multiple Sunsets Like Tatooine
Credit: NASA/JPL's Planetquest/Caltech

Luke Skywalker’s home planet of Tatooine in Star Wars had two suns, but that’s paltry compared to a Jupiter-like planet 149 light-years from Earth. This planet has three suns, with the main star similar in mass to our own sun. The triple-star system is known as HD 188753. Like Tatooine, the planet there is likely pretty hot – it orbits very close to the main star, completing one orbit every 3.5 days.

Coldest and Farthest From Us
Credit: ESO

With a surface temperature of -364 degrees Fahrenheit (-220 degrees Celsius), the extrasolar planet known as OGLE-2005-BLG-390L b is likely the coldest alien world. It is about 5.5 times as massive as Earth and thought to be rocky. It orbits a red dwarf star about 28,000 light-years away, making it the most distant exoplanet currently known.

Hottest World
Credit: ESA/NASA/Frederic Pont, Geneva University Observatory

A planet called WASP-12b is the hottest planet ever discovered (about 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit, or 2,200 degrees Celsius), and orbits its star closer than any other known world. It orbits its star one every Earth day at a distance of about 2 million miles (3.4 million km). WASP-12b is a gaseous planet, about 1.5 times the mass of Jupiter, and almost twice the size. It is 870 light-years from Earth

Credit: ESO

Astronomers are finding many worlds now in a category of worlds called Super-Earths, which are between 2 and 10 times the mass of our own Earth. Some scientists think such worlds could be more susceptible to forming the conditions for life because their cores are hot and would be conducive to geological upheaval through volcanism and plate tectonics

Oldest Alien Planet
Credit: NASA and H. Richer (U. British Columbia)

The oldest known planet is a primeval world 12.7 billion years old that formed more than 8 billion years before Earth and only 2 billion years after the Big Bang. The discovery suggested planets are very common in the universe and raised the prospect that life began far sooner than most scientists ever imagined.

The Youngest Known Exoplanet
Credit: NASA

The youngest exoplanet yet discovered is less than 1 million years old and orbits Coku Tau 4, a star 420 light-years away. Astronomers inferred the planet’s presence from an enormous hole in the dusty disk that girdles the star. The hole is 10 times the size of Earth’s orbit around the Sun and probably caused by the planet clearing a space in the dust as it orbits the star.

The Puffiest
Credit: David A. Aguilar/Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

A planet lighter than a ball of cork is one of the puffiest alien planets known to date. Called HAT-P-1, the planet is about half as massive as Jupiter but about 1.76 times wider-or 24 percent larger than predicted by theory. It could float in water, if there was a tub large enough to hold it.

Super Neptune
Credit: David A. Aguilar, CFA

While Neptune has a diameter 3.8 times that of Earth and a mass 17 times Earth's, the new world (named HAT-P-11b) is 4.7 times the size of Earth and has 25 Earth masses. The newfound world orbits very close to its star, revolving once every 4.88 days. As a result, it is baked to a temperature of around 1100 degrees F.
The star itself is about three-fourths the size of our Sun and somewhat cooler.

Tilted World
Credit: NASA. ESA, amd G. Bacon (STScI)

Most planets orbit in a plane that corresponds to their parent star's equator. But XO-3b orbits with a crazy tilt of 37 degrees from its star's equator. The only other known example of such an oddly angled orbit was Pluto, until its demotion
to dwarf planet status. There is, however, a planet known to orbit backwards around its parent star.

Fastest Planet
Credit: NASA, ESA, A. Schaller (for STScI)

SWEEPS-10 orbits its parent star from a distance of only 740,000 miles, so close that one year on the planet happens every 10 hours. The exoplanet belongs to a new class of zippy exoplanets called ultra-short-period planets (USPPs), which have orbits of less than a day.

Credit: David A. Aguilar, CFA

The extrasolar planet GJ 1214b is a rocky planet rich in water that sits about 40 light-years away. It orbits a red dwarf star. It is the only known "Super-Earth" exoplanet — worlds that have masses between Earth and Neptune — with a confirmed atmosphere. The planet is about three times the size of Earth and about 6.5 times as massive. Researchers think it is likely a water world with a solid center.

Atmosphere Detected
Credit: ESA, NASA and G. Tinetti

Astronomers have been able to detect the atmospheres around several exoplanets, including HD 189733b – one of the first alien words to have its atmosphere sniffed to determine its composition. Glowing methane, which can be produced naturally or be a biological byproduct, has been detected on the planet.

Endangered World
Credit: CARREAU/ESA/Nature

When astronomers observed WASP-18b, they may have seen it in the cosmic moment before its death. This planet, possibly an ill-fated world, whips around its star in less than one Earth day. Scientists think that this speed coupled with the planet's heft yields strong gravitational tugs that can alter the planets orbit. If the planet orbits faster than its star spins, it should gradually be moving inward towards its sun, and its doom.

Most Habitable
Credit: ESO

One of the several planets within the Gliese 581 star system, called Gliese 581 d, may be one of the most potentially habitable alien worlds known. It is about 8 times the mass of Earth, and located in an orbit just right for liquid water to exist on the surface. Water is a key ingredient for life as we know it. Gliese 581 is a red dwarf star 20.5 light-years from Earth

Densest Planet
Credit: ESO/OAMP

One of the densest exoplanet to date is a world known as COROT-exo-3b. It is about the size of Jupiter, but 20 times that planet’s mass, making it about twice as dense as lead. Scientists have not ruled out that the COROT-exo-3b may be a brown dwarf, or failed star.

10 Wildest Tries to Contact Aliens

By InnovationNewsDaily Staff
@ 05 May 2011

Since we have developed the technology, we’ve been sending messages into space ― from scientists, rock stars, students, politicians ― in the hopes that someone or something will hear them and respond. That practice of broadcasting is known as Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI). Here are some of the messages that we have beamed into the cosmos in an attempt to get E.T.'s attention.

The Arecibo message

Credit: Cornell University

Beamed out 37 years ago, the Arecibo message is still the most powerful broadcast ever deliberately beamed into space. It was sent from Cornell University’s Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico.

The transmission was aimed at the globular star cluster M13. The cluster is roughly 21,000 light-years from us, near the edge of the Milky Way galaxy, and contains approximately a third of a million stars.

Researchers worked together to create a message that contained basic information about Earth and the life it contained. It including a graphic of the Arecibo telescope, our solar system, human DNA, a stick figure of a human, and some of the biochemicals of earthly life.

The message took only three minutes to transmit, and so far, we haven’t heard back.

Pioneer 10 and 11

Credit: NASA

Pioneer 10 was the first spacecraft to reach Jupiter, Saturn, and beyond the solar system toward other stars. Soon afterward, Pioneer 11 followed its exact flight pattern, and presumably they’re still going, though we have lost contact.

Knowing that these two crafts would make it so far into space and would be traveling for years to come, NASA attached plaques to both Pioneer 10 and 11 with information about Earth.

The 6- by 9-inch gold anodized plaques were bolted to the spacecrafts’ frames; they depict a man – whose right hand is raised as a sign of good will – and woman. In addition, they show the layout of our solar system, as well as our sun’s position relative to a number of pulsars are shown, so that our location can be triangulated from fixed points in space. The hope is that the beings who find it can figure out whence the probe came.

Pioneer 10 was the first spacecraft to reach Jupiter, Saturn, and beyond the solar system toward other stars. Soon afterward, Pioneer 11 followed its exact flight pattern, and presumably they’re still going, though we have lost contact.

Knowing that these two crafts would make it so far into space and would be traveling for years to come, NASA attached plaques to both Pioneer 10 and 11 with information about Earth.

The 6- by 9-inch gold anodized plaques were bolted to the spacecrafts’ frames; they depict a man – whose right hand is raised as a sign of good will – and woman. In addition, they show the layout of our solar system, as well as our sun’s position relative to a number of pulsars are shown, so that our location can be triangulated from fixed points in space. The hope is that the beings who find it can figure out whence the probe came.

Voyagers’ golden record

Credit: NASA

Four years after Pioneer 11 was launched, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 were sent out to explore Jupiter and Saturn, and NASA decided to take their message to the next level.

Voyager 1 and 2 contain a “time capsule” that, according to NASA, was “intended to communicate a story of our world to extraterrestrials.” The Voyager message is carried on a 12-inch gold-plated copper phonograph disk containing sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth.

After the section that contains the sounds of Earth, the record’s creators included a 90-minute section of music that includes both Eastern and Western classics as well as a selection of ethnic music from all over the planet.

The Voyager spacecrafts left our solar system in 1990, and it will be 40,000 years before they make it close to any other planetary system, so we still have a while to wait before we get a return message.

“A Message from Earth”

Credit: Bebo

While Facebook seems to be the social network that has achieved everything, the honor of being the first one to try to network with extraterrestrial intelligence goes to Bebo, which sent out “A Message from Earth” in 2008.

Some 501 photos, drawings and text messages from the site’s 12 million users were transmitted by the National Space Agency of Ukraine's RT-70 radar telescope, which is normally used to track asteroids. The messages were sent to the planet Gliese 581C, which is 20 light-years from Earth, in the hope they would reach intelligent alien life.

Bebo users submitted their messages as part of a competition, and 501 were translated into a binary format, so they could be sent the 120 trillion miles to the Gliese 581C. According to the competition, the messages could cover any range of topics. They should be reaching their destination in 2028.

Cosmic Calls 1 and 2

Credit: S. Korotky

Cosmic Call 1 and Cosmic Call 2, pictograms broadcast from Moscow toward various star systems, featured the “Interstellar Rosetta Stone.”

The “rosetta stone,”developed by Yvan Dutil and Stephane Dumans, was based on mathematical and scientific concepts believed to be universal. The hope was that any alien life form that intercepted the calls would be able to use it to decipher the messages.

The calls were sent out by Alexander Zaitsev, of the Russian Academy of Science in Moscow to sunlike stars within 70 light-years. The first Cosmic Call was beamed toward four separate star systems, 16 Cyg A, Gliese 777, HD 178428 and 15 Sge. The second, reached out to five stars, including 55 Cancri, which is home to a complex planetary system.

The second message also included 50 personal messages from individuals including David Bowie and elementary students from the Ukraine.

The Teen-Age Message

Credit: Farnea via Flickr

In addition to the Cosmic Calls, Zaitsev had his hand in the Teen-Age Message, which was a transmission put together by students from all across Russia.

The TAM transmission was sent out in six sessions in August and September 2001 from the Evpatoria Deep Space Center. It was transmitted to six nearby sunlike stars, some of them with at least one planet.

Like the Arecibo message, TAM had digital information, but Zaitsev and the students decide to include that information in analog format as well, to “compensate for the uncertainty of which is more easily understood by extraterrestrials.”

TAM included personal greetings, messages about Earth, and music that was made with a theremin – the electronic instrument used to make the eerie sounds from 1950s science fiction B-movies.

Doritos commercial

Credit: Doritos

In a 2008 publicity campaign, radars in the Arctic Circle broadcast six hours of a repeating Doritos commercial. Surprisingly, it has not made us targets of an alien attack.

The ad was directed toward a solar system in the Ursa Major constellation, which is only 42 light-years away from Earth. This system has a “habitable zone,” which scientists believe could be host to an Earth-like planet and extraterrestrial life.

The EISCAT European space station on the Norwegian island of Svalbard sent the message using its array of radars. It was sent as an MPEG file coded into 1s and 0s. Researchers agreed that the message would look just like a random series, but they hoped that through its repetition, extraterrestrials would identify the message as intelligent.

RuBisCo message

Credit: U.S. Department of Energy

On the thirty-fifth anniversary of the original Arecibo message, MIT biology fellow and artist Joe Davis sent the genetic code for the plant enzyme RuBisCo into space.

RuBisCo, which is essential for photosynthesis, is the most abundant protein on Earth, which is why Davis selected it to represent life on Earth.

According to Peter Weigele of New England Biolabs, “The choice of this molecule for broadcast communicates the central importance of our sun in sustaining life as well as an implicit understanding of the role of [carbon dioxide] in our biogeochemical systems. This is a message that is both timely and timeless – for the universe and here on Earth!”

This was also the first transmission that required the aid of an iPhone. When Davis arrived at Arecibo, the encoder normally used to modulate the beam was out of commission, so he used his iPhone as an improvised source to get the new coded message modulated into the 1,000-foot-wide dish’s 2-million-watt radio beam.

“Hello from Australia”

Credit: HelloFromEearth/Cosmos Magazine

In 2009, Australia’s Cosmos magazine took a cue from Bebo and reached out to its readers to create a goodwill message to transmit through space.

The magazine’s website collected text-message-length sentiments from people all over the world. The first came from Kim Carr, Australia’s minister for innovation, industry, science and research. It said: “Hello from Australia on the planet we call Earth. These messages express our people’s dreams for the future. We want to share those dreams with you.”

It was sent from the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex to the planet Gliese 581d ― a planet in the same system as Gliese 581c, which was the recipient of “A Message from Earth.” Australia’s message should be arriving just a year later, in 2010.(original text puts 2029?)

Kepler DVD

Credit: NASA

In keeping with its earlier messaging practices, NASA included a DVD with the Kepler spacecraft two years ago.

The Kepler was specifically designed to search our region of the Milky Way galaxy for other habitable Earth-size and smaller planets. If by chance it did find life, it had a message.

Unlike the messages from Pioneers 1 and 2 and the Voyager golden record, these messages came from the public. For six-month period, tens of thousands of people submitted messages explaining why the Kepler mission was important. These were then recorded on the DVD, which was attached to the spacecraft.

The spacecraft is still going, so there is still a chance that the message may be discovered.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Bejing Olympic Card Stack

World Record cardstacker Bryan Berg has recreated the Bejing Olympic Village using 140,000 playing cards.

Uploaded by diagonaluk on Aug 14, 2008

Blood-red lake mystery is getting a lot of attention

"A West Texas lake that is almost completely dried up has left a small mystery, a pool of water that's so red it looks like blood" ~ kxan on Aug 3, 2011

Profile of man's face in Cloud in Nashville TN

"This is picture I took in Nashville of a Storm System, which had clouds that morphed into a Wonderful profile of a bearded man!" ~ InfillNashville @ Aug 2011