Archive | Extrasolar Planets

Pamela facepalm. Photo courtesy Chuck Tomasi

Ep. 390: Occam’s Razor and the Problem with Probabilities

I’m not saying it’s aliens, but it’s aliens. Actually, it’s almost certainly not aliens, or a wormhole, or a multiverse. When scientists discover something unusual, they make guesses about what’s happening. But Occam’s Razor encourages us to consider the probabilities of different events before making any concrete predictions. Download the show [MP3] | Jump to […]

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Hubble Space Telescope. Image credit: NASA

Ep 386: Orbiting Observers

The atmosphere keeps us alive and breathing, but it really sucks for astronomy. Fortunately, humanity has built and launched space telescopes that get above the pesky atmosphere, where the skies are really clear. Let’s take a look at the past, current and future of orbital observation. Download the show [MP3] | Jump to Shownotes | […]

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Life May or May Not Exist on other Terrestrial Worlds

Ep. 375: The Search For Life in the Solar System

With the discovery of water ice in so many locations in the Solar System, scientists are hopeful in the search for life on other worlds. Guest Morgan Rehnberg returns to Astronomy Cast to explain the best places we should be looking for life. Download the show [MP3] | Jump to Shownotes | Jump to Transcript […]

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Ep. 364: The COROT Mission

Before NASA’s Kepler mission searched for exoplanets using the transit method, there was the European COROT mission, launched in 2006. It was sent to search for planets with short orbital periods and find solar oscillations in stars. It was an incredibly productive mission, and the focus of today’s show. Download the show [MP3] | Jump […]

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Artist's impression of Gliese 581 g

Ep. 202: The Planets at Gliese 581

With the discovery of a planet in the habitability zone of Gliese 581, the chances of finding life on other worlds is just getting better and better. Let’s take a look at the discoveries made at Gliese 581, provide some perspective on the real chances of life, and talk about what might come next. (more…)

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Ep. 34: Discovering Another Earth

What a week! Astronomers announced the discovery of an Earth-sized planet orbiting the nearby star Gliese 581. We talk about the technique used to discover the planet, the possibilities of finding even smaller planets, and what the future holds for finding another Earth. Correction: At the beginning of the show, Pamela says that Gliese 581c […]

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Ep. 24: The Fermi Paradox: Where Are All the Aliens?

We live in a mind bogglingly big Universe filled with countless stars. We know intelligent life evolved here on Earth. It must be common across the Universe, right? But if there’s life out there, how come we haven’t been visited by aliens yet? Why haven’t we even picked up signals from alien television stations? Where’s […]

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Ep. 23: Counting Aliens With the Drake Equation

If you’re wondering how many extraterrestrials there are in our galaxy, you just have to use a simple equation developed by astronomer Frank Drake in 1961. Just find out how many stars there are, how many support life, how many advanced societies form, and a few other details and we’ll be set. Episode 23: Drake […]

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Ep. 3: Hot Jupiters and Pulsar Planets

You have lived on the Earth all your life, so you’d think you know plenty about planets. As usual though, the Universe is stranger than we assume, and the planets orbiting other stars defy our expectations. Gigantic super-Jupiters whirling around their parent stars every couple of days; fluffy planets with the density of cork; and […]

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Ep. 2: In Search of Other Worlds

Look down at your feet. There… you’re looking at a planet. Now look into the night sky and you should be able to spot a few more. After that, spotting additional planets becomes really hard, especially when you’re trying to find them orbiting other stars. This week we discuss the techniques astronomers use to locate […]

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