For Hubble, a long healthy life possible, could it be extended further?

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Healthy Hubble telescope raises hopes of longer life BY WILLIAM HARWOOD FOR CBS NEWS “SPACE PLACE”

We can hope that it lasts long enough for a new manned or unmanned service mission. Hubble would seem to be an ideal target for a robotic repair mission demonstrating sophisticated, heavy weight-complex repair mission/capability.

Earth Sized Exo Planets…

 

The smaller of the two planets, dubbed Kepler-20 e, is about the size of Venus, with a radius 0.87 times that of Earth. It orbits its star every 6 Earth days and sits at a temperature of 1,040 Kelvin — hot enough to vaporize any atmosphere and leave a solid hunk of silica- and iron-rich rock.

 

Kepler-20 f, the larger planet with a radius 1.03 times that of Earth, has a 20-day orbit. As a result, it is a bit less scorching, at 705 Kelvin. At that temperature, says Fressin, hydrogen and helium wouldn’t survive in the atmosphere, but a shroud of water vapour might.

 

Then there is this planet Alpha Centauri Bb

 

This planet orbits very close to its star, like Kepler-20 e, in fact its close enough that its surface is most likely molten.  But its only 4 light years away and generally where there is one planet there are likely others.  This planet was not discovered by the Kepler observatory and there is some discussion as to the data set used to derive its existence…but it seems likely that its there and it’s certainly cool….

A felt of stars

A rich collection of colourful astronomical objects is revealed in this picturesque image of the Rho Ophiuchi cloud complex from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Explorer, or WISE. The Rho Ophiuchi cloud (pronounced ‘oh-fee-yoo-ki’ and named after a bright star in the region) is found rising above the plane of the Milky Way in the night sky, bordering the constellations Ophiuchus and Scorpius. It’s one of the nearest star-forming regions to Earth, allowing us to resolve much more detail than in more distant similar regions, like the Orion nebula.

The amazing variety of different colours seen in this image represents different wavelengths of infrared light. The bright white nebula in the centre of the image is glowing due to heating from nearby stars, resulting in what is called an emission nebula. The same is true for most of the multi-hued gas prevalent throughout the entire image, including the bluish bow-shaped feature near the bottom right. The bright red area in the bottom right is light from the star in the centre – Sigma Scorpii – that is reflected off of the dust surrounding it, creating what is called a reflection nebula. And the much darker areas scattered throughout the image are pockets of cool dense gas that block out the background light, resulting in absorption (or ‘dark’) nebulae. WISE’s longer wavelength detectors can typically see through dark nebulae, but these are exceptionally opaque.

The bright pink objects just left of centre are young stellar objects (YSOs). These baby stars are just now forming; many of them are still enveloped in their own tiny compact nebulae. In visible light, these YSOs are completely hidden in the dark nebula that surrounds them, which is sometimes referred to as their baby blanket. We can also see some of the oldest stars in our Milky Way Galaxy in this image, found in two separate (and much more distant) globular clusters. The first cluster, M80, is on the far right edge of the image towards the top. The second, NGC 6144, is found close to the bottom edge near the centre. They both appear as small densely compacted groups of blue stars. Globular clusters such as these typically harbour some of the oldest stars known, some as old as 13 billion years, born soon after the Universe formed.

 There are two other items of interest in this image as well. At the 3 o’clock position, relative to the bright central region, and about two-thirds of the way from the centre to the edge, there is a small faint red dot. That dot is an entire galaxy far, far away known as PGC 090239. And, at the bottom left of the image, there are two lines emerging from the edge. These were not created by foreground satellites; they are diffraction spikes (optical artefacts from the space telescope) from the bright star Antares that is just out of the field of view.

Rocky remains of Red Giants Last meal spotted

Two hot rocks and their flaky white dwarf

As the poster at arstechnia says this is fascinating stuff and i hope it remains so for a very long time.

Astronomers find a star system where a red giant appears to have swallowed two Jupiter-like planets, then later spit out their cores, which now orbit as small, rocky planets.

via Remains of gas giants, swallowed by red giant star, now orbit as small planets.

Earth-size worlds found orbiting another star (bit ‘ot though)

This Spaceflight Now article discusses the Kepler Orbital Observatory’s discovery of two “smallish” worlds (within a few percentage points of Earth) orbiting a star 1000 light years away. This proves that 1) Kepler can ‘see’ worlds of this size and 2) that such worlds are not radically rare since there are two in the first few dozen discovered.  However both orbit too close to their star for us one’s probably got a surface temp of ~1500 the other a relatively ‘cool’ 800.  Other interesting thing is that the other planets spotted (all way to close to the star) are gas ‘pigmy giants.’