Carnival of Space #180

Wel­come, wel­come to the Web’s 180th spec­tac­u­lar Car­ni­val of Space. You say you don’t know what this car­ni­val is all about? Hosted by our illus­tri­ous ring-leader, Fraser Cain, you can head over to the Car­ni­val home­page for the full details and archive.

Artist's impression of the red dwarf star CHRX 73 A and its companion object CHRX 73 B. The companion object is around 12 Jupiter masses, and may either be a planet or a brown dwarf. (Image credit: NASA, ESA and G. Bacon (STScI))

Artist’s impres­sion of the red dwarf star CHRX 73 A and its com­pan­ion object CHRX 73 B. (Image credit: NASA, ESA and G. Bacon (STScI))

My God it’s full of stars! Three times more stars by astronomers’ count accord­ing to Brian Wang at Next Big Future. A bet­ter count of red dwarf stars finds 20 times more in ellip­ti­cal galax­ies. That boosts the esti­mates for the num­ber of stars in the uni­verse to 300 sex­til­lion. Astronotes calls red dwarfs the most impor­tant stars in the universe.

Last week, the Web was awash in dis­cus­sions about NASA’s cryp­tic press release that inti­mated an “astro­bi­ol­ogy find­ing that will impact the search for evi­dence of extrater­res­trial life.” Many blog­gers spec­u­lated that per­haps life had been found on one of Saturn’s moons. That was not the case. Next Big Future takes us through the announce­ment that life can have arsenic instead of phos­phate as a basic build­ing block.

Next Big Future also offers spec­u­la­tion that a dark jupiter (or sev­eral) might lurk around the edge of the solar system.

Nancy Atkin­son, at Uni­verse Today, writes that researchers find that the tracks from the two Mars rovers are being erased by wind within a Mar­t­ian year.

Paul Schenk offers us the first view of global topo­graphic maps of Saturn’s icy moons.

Allen Vers­feld, the Urban Astronomer, takes a look at the his­tory of Neptune’s dis­cov­ery, the mythol­ogy behind its name and a lit­tle bit of the sci­ence behind the planet.

When I was in grade school, one couldn’t help but notice that the orbital work­shop Sky­lab looked sim­i­lar to a stage of a Sat­urn V. David S. F. Portree, of Beyond Apollo, tells us about the non-propulsive roles of the S-IVB rocket stage in NASA’s manned pro­gram.

Space shuttle tiles installed on shuttle Atlantis (collectSPACE)

Space shut­tle tiles installed on shut­tle Atlantis (collectSPACE)

Want a baked piece of his­tory? If you’re a school or uni­ver­sity, Robert Pearl­man of col­lect­Space, shares that NASA has started offer­ing schools space shut­tle tiles at a whop­ping $23.40 per tile (that’s just ship­ping and handling).

Mov­ing a bit closer to home but far­ther back in time, Bruce Leee­owe, at Weird Sci­ences writes about a research arti­cle by Vic­tor Bab­bitt in which Bab­bitt pro­posed that sul­fur diox­ide unleashed after a cometary impact may have caused the pos­si­ble extinc­tion of dinosaurs.

While Leee­owe talks of extinc­tions, astronomers are search­ing for life else­where in the uni­verse. One new method, explains Weird Warp, is to seek sul­fur diox­ide sig­na­tures, and there­fore vol­ca­noes, on exo­plan­ets. This leads us to AARTScope’s story about ESO’s spec­tropho­tom­e­try announce­ment of a steamy or hazy “super-Earth” called GJ 1214b.

The dark circles show regions of the universe that are cooler than average. Could each ring provide information about what happened before the Big Bang? (V.G.Gurzadyan and R.Penrose)

The dark cir­cles show regions of the uni­verse that are cooler than aver­age. (V.G.Gurzadyan and R.Penrose)

Last week also saw a fair num­ber of sto­ries about cos­mol­ogy. Sci­ence is stranger than fic­tion accord­ing to Ian O’Neill at Dis­cov­ery News. Sci­en­tists ana­lyz­ing cos­mic microwave back­ground radi­a­tion claim they observe a pat­tern, says O’Neill. Fran­cisco José Sevilla Lobato, in his Spanish-language blog Vega 0.0, writes about the impact of infrared obser­va­tions in mod­erm cosmology.

The folks at the blog weare­allinthegut­ter remind us in why super­novae are so impor­tant for cos­mol­ogy in parts one and two at their website.

Need to take a break? Explore a new image of the Flame Neb­ula in Orion from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Sur­vey Explorer at Star­ryCrit­ters.

Steve Ner­lich, of Cheap Astron­omy, with help from some lis­ten­ers, deliv­ers a 2010 hol­i­day sea­son 365 days of Astron­omy pod­cast on 21st cen­tury think­ing.

We are lucky enough as Car­ni­val read­ers to have a cou­ple of blog­gers who offer a far view of our explo­ration of space. Weird Sci­ences dis­cusses the advan­tages of probes over con­ven­tional SETI bea­cons. Cen­tauri Dreams explores the tran­si­tion from inter­plan­e­tary flight to inter­stel­lar jour­neys. Pul­sar nav­i­ga­tion is one way to find our way around and an inter­est­ing new paper dis­cusses one way it might be done.

Cassini offers a view of Hyperion

By the way, this week is brought to you by the word par­al­lax at AstroWoW. But the hol­i­day sea­son would not be com­plete with­out an iPod stock­ing stuffer idea from Bruce Irv­ing at Music of the Spheres or advent cal­en­dars from Zooni­verse, Big Pic­ture and Plan­e­tary Soci­ety’s Emily Lak­dawalla. You won’t want to miss a sin­gle day.

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The ancient peo­ples saw pic­tures in the sky. From those pat­terns in the heav­ens, ancient sto­ry­tellers cre­ated leg­ends about heroes, maid­ens, drag­ons, bears, cen­taurs, dogs and myth­i­cal crea­tures…
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