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Astro News Near and Far

On Life at the SETI Institute, Dr. Franck Marchis shares the latest results from Kepler, a telescope in an Earth-trailing heliocentric orbit which keeps a distant eye on 156,453 stars. Kepler watches for tell-tale reductions in brightness, which “could be due to the transit of an exoplanet passing between its star and us.” As of Tuesday, Kepler has identified 1202 likely new exoplanets, tripling the number of known worlds beyond our solar system. These results suggest that out of the 200 billion stars in our galaxy, “several hundred million of them could have an exoplanet with a surface temperature adequate to sustain liquid water.” Great, now where’s our hyperdrive? Ethan Siegel also reports that Hubble has detected a galaxy at a record-breaking redshift of 10.3, making it the most distant galaxy ever observed. If it still exists, it’s probably full of planets too.