1992 --"The Year the Milky Way's Planets Came to Life" (VIEW VIDEO)

 

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From Giodarno Bruno's heretical vision of Infinite Worlds in 1593 until 1992, our notion of star-orbiting planets beyond Earth’s solar system only existed in science fiction. That’s when astronomers Alex Wolszczan and Dale Frail used the 1,000-foot Arecibo radiotelescope to detect three planets orbiting a rapidly spinning neutron star -- the very first discovery of planets outside our solar system. This discovery opened the door to the current intense era of planet hunting by suggesting that planet formation could be quite common throughout the universe and that planets can form around different types of stellar objects. 

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Today's "Galaxy" Stream: China Powers Up the Search for Extraterrestrial Civilization (VIEW VIDEO)

 

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20016 was a year of unprecedented achievement for China’s ambitious space program: the country has launched a dark-matter seeking satellite and another orbiting satellite to test quantum communications, outlined plans to send rovers to Mars and the dark side of the moon, and successfully launched a new Long March rocket. This new Long March rocket will soon be transporting Chinese taikonauts to Tiangong-2, China’s second crewed space station which was just put into orbit earlier this month.

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"The Invisible Universe" --Astronomers Creating Movies of Galactic Black Holes (VIDEO)

 

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“For the past 10,000 years, astronomers have been studying the light side of the universe,” said Avery Broderick, Associate Faculty member at Canada's prestigious Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. “We have now just begun to study the dark side of the universe with gravitational waves."

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China Probing Spacetime in Tibet's Himalayas --Constructing What Could Become the World's Top Gravitational-Wave-Telescope Complex

 

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China constructing world's highest altitude gravitational-wave observatory in Tibet, 5,250 meters above sea level near the Line of Actual Control with India which will help Beijing gather data on primordial gravitational waves in the Northern Hemisphere. Yao Yongqiang chief researcher with the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said the telescope has been code-named Ngari No 1. The second phase will have a series of telescopes placed about 6,000 meters above sea level. The first telescope is expected to be running by 2021.

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'The Planetary Spitball Machine' --Milky Way's Supermassive Black Hole Spews Out Millions of Star Fragments --"Large as Jupiter and Neptune"

 

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New simulations from Harvard University undergraduate Eden Girma and her mentor, James Guillochon, an Einstein fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, presented January 4 at the American Astronomical Society’s annual meeting in Texas, suggest that our galaxy’s massive black hole could be responsible for sending an astronomical amount of these free-floating objects zipping through space.

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"Black-Hole Bonanza" --New NASA Image Reveals Highest Concentration of Supermassive Objects Ever Seen

 

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NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has completed the deepest X-ray image ever obtained, made with over 7 million seconds of observing time revealing the best picture ever at the growth of black holes over billions of years beginning soon after the Big Bang. The central region of the image contains the highest concentration of supermassive black holes ever seen, equivalent to about 5,000 objects that would fit into the area of the full Moon and about a billion over the entire sky.

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Life on Venus --US and Russian Scientists: "Are Dark Streaks In Its Acid Clouds from Microbial Life?" (VIEW VIDEO)

 

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“These are questions that haven’t been fully explored yet and I’m shouting as loud as I can saying that we need to explore them,” says Sanjay Limaye, an atmospheric scientist from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and a former chair of NASA’s Venus Exploration Analysis Group.

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"Exploring a New Type of World" --NASA's Psyche Mission to a Primordial Metal Asteroid: The Core of an Extinct Planet (VIEW VIDEOS)

 

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“This is an opportunity to explore a new type of world – not one of rock or ice, but of metal,” said Lindy Elkins-Tanton, Psyche’s principal investigator and planetary scientist at Arizona State University. “16 Psyche is the only known object of its kind in the solar system, and this is the only way humans will ever visit a core of a planet. We learn about inner space by visiting outer space.”

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NASA’S New Psyche & Lucy Missions to Probe Primordial Fossils of the Solar System (AUDIO/VIDEO)

 

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“These are true missions of discovery that integrate into NASA’s larger strategy of investigating how the Solar System formed and evolved,” said Jim Green, NASA’s planetary science director. “We’ve explored terrestrial planets, gas giants, and a range of other bodies orbiting the Sun. Lucy will observe primitive remnants from farther out in the solar system, while Psyche will directly observe the interior of a planetary body. These additional pieces of the puzzle will help us understand how the Sun and its family of planets formed, changed over time, and became places where life could develop and be sustained – and what the future may hold.”

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