Gliese 581g – The next "Earth"?

The fact that we’ve found a habitable planet candidate so soon after starting our search has important implications for the number of habitable planets that may exist in our galaxy – which was estimated to be around 10 billion. 

Having found Gliese 581g so soon though, may mean one of two things. Either we were very lucky, or there are more planets out there than we thought. Based on this discovery, it’s possible that we may have many more habitable planets than originally thought.

Perhaps 20 to 30 billion stars in our galaxy may have conditions suitable for life.

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Astronomy Picture Of The Day | NGC 2683: Spiral Edge-On

NGC 2683: Spiral Edge-On

Credit: Data: Hubble Legacy Archive, ESA, NASA; Processing: Nikolaus Sulzenauer

Explanation: Does spiral galaxy NGC 2683 have a bar across its center? Being so nearly like our own barred Milky Way Galaxy, one might guess it has. Being so nearly edge-on, however, it is hard to tell. Either way, this gorgeous island universe, cataloged as NGC 2683, lies a mere 20 million light-years distant in the northern constellation of the Cat (Lynx). NGC 2683 is seen nearly edge-on in this cosmic vista, with more distant galaxies scattered in the background. Blended light from a large population of old yellowish stars forms the remarkably bright galactic core. Starlight silhouettes the dust lanes along winding spiral arms, dotted with the telltale blue glow of young star clusters in this galaxy‘s star forming regions.

NGC 2683 was discovered by William Herschel on February 5, 1788.

This spiral galaxy is viewed nearly edge-on from our perspective. Because of its appearance, it was nicknamed the “UFO Galaxy” by the Astronaut Memorial Planetarium and Observatory site. Note the small yellowish core in the center of the galaxy, consisting of older stars. Also note the fine details of the spiral structure, traced by dark dust in the brighter part of the disk (particularly well visible in the larger image.

The UFO is receding from us at 410 km/s, and from the Galactic Center at 375 km/s. This indicates that it is probably one of the nearby galaxies, perhaps at about 16 million light years.

The image in this page was obtained by Dick Stone when participating in the Kitt Peak Visitor Center’s Advanced Observing Program. It is a composite of 4 CCD images: Luminance = 42 min, Red = 20 min, Green = 20 min, Blue = 40 min.

via apod.nasa.gov

Why are there still Chimpanzees?

This post  is an attempt to reply to part of this question posted on Twitter by Ed Betterley.

Oh! The process by which new oxygen is produced is called Photosynthesis.

As for your last question, Ed, I have better reasons not to believe in any gods than to believe, but, if there are gods and they are just, they will not care how godly and pious you have been, but will judge you based on the virtues you have lived by.

Neil deGrasse Tyson at UB: What NASA Means to America's Future

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, a Distinguished Speaker at the University at Buffalo, answered a student’s question about federal cutbacks to NASA funding. Tyson is host of the PBS series NOVA scienceNOW and director of New York City’s Hayden Planetarium.

The God of the Gaps (by Neil deGrasse Tyson)

The God of the Gaps (by Neil deGrasse Tyson)

From: Beyond Belief 2006

Neil deGrasse Tyson talks about the evolution of knowledge across the centuries and the god of the gaps.

Astronomy Picture Of The Day | Melotte 15 in the Heart

Melotte 15 in the Heart Image Credit & Copyright: Derek Santiago

Explanation: Cosmic clouds seem to form fantastic shapes in the central regions of emission nebula IC 1805. Of course, the clouds are sculpted by stellar winds and radiation from massive hot stars in the nebula‘s newborn star cluster, Melotte 15. About 1.5 million years young, the cluster stars are near the center in this colorful skyscape, along with dark dust clouds silhouetted against glowing atomic gas. A composite of narrow and broad band telescopic images, the view spans about 40 light-years and includes emission from hydrogen in green, sulfur in red, and oxygen in blue hues. Wider field images reveal that IC 1805’s simpler, overall outline suggests its popular name – The Heart Nebula. IC 1805 is located about 7,500 light years away toward the constellation Cassiopeia.