Department News

Cosmic Census Finds Billions of Planets That Could Be Like Earth

"One out of every five sunlike stars in the galaxy has a planet the size of Earth circling it in the Goldilocks zone — not too hot, not too cold — where surface temperatures should be compatible with liquid water, according to a herculean three-year calculation based on data from the Kepler spacecraft by Erik Petigura, a graduate student at the University of California, …

TAGS: Erik Petigura, Kepler

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Astronomers answer key question: How common are habitable planets?

NASA’s Kepler space telescope, now crippled and its four-year mission at an end, nevertheless provided enough data to answer its main research question: How many of the 200 billion stars in our galaxy have potentially habitable planets? Based on a statistical analysis of all the Kepler observations, astronomers at UC Berkeley and University of Hawaii, Manoa now estimate that one in …

TAGS: Erik Petigura, Andrew Howard, Kepler, planets

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Intelligent civilizations rarer than one in a million

"Scientists at UC Berkeley have now used the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia to look for intelligent radio signals from planets around 86 of these stars. While discovering no telltale signs of life, the researchers calculate that fewer than one in a million stars in the Milky Way Galaxy have planetary civilizations advanced enough to transmit beacons we could detect. “We …

TAGS: SETI, Dan Werthimer, Kepler, planets, Andrew Siemion

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Planet makes weird loops around dusty star

"Newly released NASA Hubble Space Telescope images of a vast debris disk encircling the nearby star Fomalhaut and a mysterious planet circling it may provide forensic evidence of a titanic planetary disruption in the system. Astronomers are surprised to find the debris belt is wider than previously known, spanning a section of space from 14 to nearly 20 billion miles from the star. …

TAGS: SETI, Paul Kalas

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Link to 'Alex Filippenko Flies with the Blue Angels!'

Alex Filippenko Flies with the Blue Angels!

Faculty member Alex Filippenko took to the skies with the Blue Angels during this years fleet week; in a jet piloted by Navy Lt. Mark Tedrow, Filippenko took the opportunity to film lessons on gravity and force during his flight to enhance his popular Astronomy C10 course. You can find the full article here.

TAGS: Alex Filippenko, Blue Angels

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Prof. Marcy receives Templeton grant to study Kepler data

"Astronomer Geoff Marcy, who kicked off the search for extrasolar planets 20 years ago, plans to rummage through data from the Kepler space telescope in search of evidence for civilizations advanced enough to have built massive orbiting “solar” power stations." Complete article can be found here.

TAGS: Kepler, Templeton Grant

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Kinematic SZ effect observation highlighted by Physics World

Nick Hand from the University of California, Berkeley and colleagues at the Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ACT) and the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS) were named by Physics World as one of the top 10 breakthroughs in 2012 for being the first to detect the large-scale motion of galaxy clusters. The motions of distant galaxy clusters tell us much about how the universe formed …

TAGS: Nick Hand, ACT, BOSS, galaxy clusters

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Record massive black holes discovered lurking in monster galaxies

"University of California, Berkeley, astronomers have discovered the largest black holes to date ‑- two monsters with masses equivalent to 10 billion suns that are threatening to consume anything, even light, within a region five times the size of our solar system. These black holes are at the centers of two galaxies more than 300 million light years from Earth, and may be the dark …

TAGS: Chung-Pei Ma, Black Holes, Nick McConnell

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UC Berkeley Physics Professor and Former Berkeley Astronomy Miller Fellow Win Nobel Prize in Physics

"Saul Perlmutter, who led one of two teams that simultaneously discovered the accelerating expansion of the universe, has been awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics, to be shared with two members of the rival team. Perlmutter, 52, a professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, and a faculty senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), led the …

TAGS: Alex Filippenko, Saul Perlmutter, Adam Reiss, Nobel Prize

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'Supernova of a generation' discovered by Berkeley scientists

"A supernova discovered yesterday is closer to Earth — approximately 21 million light-years away — than any other of its kind in a generation. Astronomers believe they caught the supernova within hours of its explosion, a rare feat made possible with a specialized survey telescope and state-of-the-art computational tools. The finding of such a supernova so early and so …

TAGS: Supernova, Josh Bloom, Peter Nugent

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