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Everything I need to know about observing I did not learn in kindergarten

Last week I spent two nights observing on Magellan, in Chile. It was my first observing trip and there was a lot more to it than expected! Continue reading

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Are Stars with Planets More Active?

Do close-in planets cause their host stars to become more magnetically active? Canto Martins et al. compare stars with and without planets to address this question. Continue reading

Could We Observe Aliens Mining Asteroids?

The authors consider a possible signature of an intelligent, spacefaring life form, more technologically advanced than ourselves: they consider the effects that significant asteroid mining would have on a debris disk and determine whether these effects would be observable. Continue reading

Supermassive Black Holes and Galaxy Mergers

When galaxies merge, the super-massive black holes at their center can merge as well. General relativity predicts that the newly merged black hole can, in forming, be kicked with a large velocity out of the galactic center! Continue reading

Supernovae from Blue Supergiants

Supernovae, the extremely luminous explosions that are the catastrophic deaths of stars, are used directly and indirectly by astronomers of many disciplines. Cosmologists use type Ia supernovae as powerful “standard candles” to probe the farthest rungs of the cosmic distance ladder. Astrochemists studying the interstellar medium (ISM) track supernovae feedback of heavier elements that enrich the ISM. Astrophysicists working on star formation look for evidence of supernovae-induced collapse of molecular clouds. If supernovae are such ubiquitous tools, then it must be essential to understand the actual supernova (SN) mechanism itself. Continue reading

Journey to Mars

This past February, I had the opportunity to travel to Mars – or just about as close as you can get on Earth. I was privileged to be a part of the all-student Crew 99 of the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), which did work on astrobiology, mission planning, and astronomy engineering. MDRS is an … Continue reading

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