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It’s probably not a Dyson’s sphere, but Tabby’s Star is still weird.

CJ4CQIkVEAEaAnwEven though Pluto has been downgraded from planet to dwarf planet, Pluto has nothing but love for the New Horizons space probe as it makes its flyby.

I was reading an interesting article on Time‘s website about how planet hunters and Astronomers are shifting gears in their hunt for extra-soar planets to include M-type stars. These stellar embers are so common that when you take the immediate neighborhood of our galactic community of stars, M-Type stars outnumber Sun-like stars by 248 to 20. This includes Red Dwarf stars which have long been a debating point over how likely are these stars to play host to e life-sustaining planet? Some think unlikely since these stars, while having a lifespan that outnumbers the lifespan of a Sun-like star by billions of years, radiate so little heat that their “Goldilocks zones” are so small that the odds of a planet being inside one may be astronomical. However, when you have an astronomically huge number of times to roll the dice, my gut feeling says that the odds of it happening at least once are pretty good. And with the ratio of 248 to 20 multiplied out to include the entire galaxy, again, my guts leads me to believe these planets are out there, and maybe in greater numbers than we ever dreamed possible.

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I was shocked last night as I was watching the Presidential debates to see that a newly discovered extra-solar planet was found orbiting Alpha Centauri B. This is significant not only because the Alpha Centauri star system is closest to our Sun, but also because the star around which this planet orbits is almost an exact twin to our Sun, the only difference being that Alpha Cnetauri B is slightly larger. Still the planet orbits far to close into the star to sustain life or even have liquid water, but maybe, after some more research is done researchers might discover more planets orbits our closest neighbor.

This discovery comes on the heels of another planet that was found orbiting a cluster of four stars. This discovery made headline yesterday because the people who discovered this planet were volunteers, people working on their own time and with their own equipment and sifting through the massive amounts of data that has thus far been collected by the Kepler Telescope but not yet analyzed.

Well, with all the new exoplanets being discovered lately, it’s hard to keep track of how big they all are, how far each is from their perspective star(s), as well as other statistics. If you have been searching for a way to keep all these values straight, look no more. This interactive map lets you display these exoplanets by radius or by distance to their closest star. I can’t say that I am all that impressed with the map, after all, the further you go down on the page the harder it is to see the pertinent info about the selected planets, to make things worse, some of the dots on the map are so small it is hard to select the smallest of the planets. Non-the-less, here is, enjoy.

For years Astronomers have tried to guess how many planets exist within the Milky Way Galaxy? Millions? Billions? Since I was a child I was always fascinated by Carl Sagan and his famous saying of billions and billions when talking about extrasolar planets and even inhabited alien worlds. And even though I always wanted to believe it, it still seemed like a high estimate to me. Not even when extrsolar planets started being discovered by the handful, and later by the bucket full when Kepler was launched, did I ever believe that the actual number could be that much.

Now, however, two independent groups have done the math and both agree that the real number is almost certainly above 50 billion planets beyond our solar system, with one saying the number is likely above 100 billion.

This is still by no means proof that our galaxy is teeming with alien worlds, but the recent discoveries of planets of ever smaller sizes, and even planets around non-sol like star systems, seems to point to a galaxy where worlds will form under just about any kind of environment.

Nothing will get peoples freak on like rumors about the end of the world, or a world, or, in this case, a star — Betelgeus. Apparently a rumor was started on a forum about how Betelgeus is about to go supernova. The poster goes further to say that if Betelgeus were to explode it would surely be as bright as a full moon and possible as bright as the Sun, and, well, what does this mean? Does it mean the end of the world could happen on 12/21/2010, two full years earlier then the previous prediction concerning the end of the world said it would? The author never says, but one thing is for certain – he is right, Betelgeus is about to blow! This probably won’t happen for another thousand years and maybe not even in the next ten thousand years, but hell, that’s all relative when you take into account how long the universe has actually been around – it might as well be tomorrow.

Source1, Source2