How do you introduce yourself, scientifically? I generally say that I’m an astronomer. More specifically, I’m an exoplanet astronomer, meaning I study planets that exist around other stars. In our solar system, all the planets orbit the Sun. I’m looking at planets in other stellar systems, orbiting stars much further away than the Sun. What are the implications or broader impacts of your work? This is … Continue reading What Does an Astronomer Do?
by Kerry McGowen Have you ever wondered how scientists hunt for alien life on other planets? What are they looking for? Before jumping straight into the search for aliens, scientists look for planets that could support alien life in the first place. However, this is no easy task. In the Milky Way alone, which is the galaxy to which our eight-planet solar system belongs, there … Continue reading Atmospheric Gases on Other Planets Could Help us Find Alien Life
by Sasha Brownsberger figures by Abagail Burrus Everything you have ever touched, seen, or tasted; the air you breathe; the ground on which you stand; and the constituents of your body all consist of a type of matter that is only a fraction of all that is. In light of a series of unexpected discoveries over the past half century, astronomers and physicists have determined … Continue reading Seeing the Invisible: A short history of the scientific evidence of dark matter
Historically, galactic rotation curves have suggested that galaxies are surrounded by a vast amount of invisible matter, otherwise known as a dark matter halo. A few weeks ago, a team of astrophysicists published a result that completely contradicts these halo models and could even change the popular understanding of dark matter. The team found that galactic rotation curves can be calculated explicitly from a simple … Continue reading Galactic Rotation Curves Revisited: A Surprise For Dark Matter
Last week, astronomers announced the discovery of a galaxy that is almost entirely comprised of dark matter. At first glance, the galaxy, Dragonfly 44, is roughly the same size as the Milky Way, but only contains 1 percent as many stars. Naively, one would expect this galaxy to be torn apart by its surroundings in the Coma Cluster. However, Dragonfly 44 is composed of 99.99% … Continue reading Discovery of a Dark Matter Galaxy