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When Galaxy’s Collide

by on Jun.27, 2012, under Deep Space, The Far Future

The Milky Way and the Andromeda galaxy will collide in about 2.3 billion years. If any of us were around it would look something like this.

See details on New Scientist TV.

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Cosmic Background Radio Waves Mystery

by on Feb.05, 2009, under Deep Space

Artist's impression of the ARCADE experiment.


Scientists from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center have discovered an unexpected cosmic background radio noise. The team led by Alan Kogut, have been examining data from a balloon-borne instrument named the Absolute Radiometer for Cosmology, Astrophysics, and Diffuse Emission (ARCADE).

ARCADE viewed about 7 percent of the sky. The observed region is coloured on this all-sky radio map. The plane of our galaxy runs across the centre.

“The universe really threw us a curve,” Kogut says. “Instead of the faint signal we hoped to find, here was this booming noise six times louder than anyone had predicted.” The source of this noise is unknown.

ARCADE was launched in July 2006 and flew to the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere. Here it searched for signs of the first stars formed about 13 billion years ago. It found a cosmic puzzle.

“This is what makes science so exciting,” says Michael Seiffert, a team member at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “You start out on a path to measure something — in this case, the heat from the very first stars — but run into something else entirely, something unexplained.”

Map of the background radio waves in the sky,

Background Radio Waves

Image Credits: NASA/ARCADE/Roen Kelly

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Bebo Takes Social Networking Interstellar

by on Oct.14, 2008, under Deep Space, Society 2.0

Gliese 581

Gliese 581

Last week, Bebo poked Gliese 581, one of our stellar neighbours. The social networking site collected 501 messages from members then beamed them into space. Site members selected the messages by vote. The messages include images of landmarks, famous people family snaps and short messages. One simply says, “You are not alone,” another “Welcome to planet Earth.”

The giant RT-70 radio telescope in the Ukraine sent the message on Oct 9. It is now over 100 billion miles from Earth. The target star Gliese 581 lies 20.1 light years from Earth. The Bebo team selected it because it has planets orbiting within the habitable zone. The region from the star where liquid water can exist.

Yelling into the Jungle

There could be risks involved for the Earth by bringing ourselves to the attention of alien intelligences. Sending signals into space like this has been compared to, “yelling into an unknown jungle.”

On the Message from Earth page, thethe Bebo website the team point out that, “The Earth has been sending unnatural signals into space from military radars and telescopes conducting radar astronomy for decades.” However, there is a great deal of difference between a carrier wave leaking into space and an information dense signal focused on a possibly inhabited planet.

When a similar scheme was proposed two years ago by Yahoo, it caused considerable concern and was abandon when Mexican officials refused to allow a laser transmitter to be mounted on an ancient pyramid.

If there is anyone or anything out there and they reply straight away, we can expect to be poked back in 40.2 years. Anyone for a game of interstellar-vampires?

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My Babies

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Welcome to Earth

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