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Soundwave is colorblind
33 years old
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Joined: 20-November 03
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Local Time: May 25 2013, 05:51 AM
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24 Nov 2012
I just saw this advertised this morning. Apparently, Transformers Prime is going to start airing on Vortexx (CW's Saturday morning block) December 8; I don't know what time.
I wonder if they'll actually show it uneditted or not; Power Rangers Lost Galaxy seems to be intact, but Justice League Unlimited sure isn't. (And Dragon Ball Z Kai is, apparently, double censored; I'm pretty sure the Toonzai/Vortexx version has additional edits to the already editted Nicktoons version.)
18 Oct 2012
My PCC Skyblast had been on the shelf in combined mode for a long time; I'm not sure exactly when the last time I touched it was. I noticed today that the yellow helicopter arm had popped off (which it used to do all the time), and couldn't get it to stay on again, so I decided to transform him. The small robot mode's left arm came off during transformation, which I didn't recognize as a problem immediately since it's a ball joint. But when I finished transforming him and tried to put the arm back on, I noticed that it was cracked and split. And on closer examination I saw smaller cracks in the right arm and left leg as well. All those parts are the same color and texture of plastic, and they're all cracking for no apparent reason at about the same time. Is this a GPS-like problem?
17 Oct 2012
European astronomers have discovered a planet with about the mass of the Earth orbiting a star in the Alpha Centauri system — the nearest to Earth. It is also the lightest exoplanet ever discovered around a star like the Sun. The planet was detected using the HARPS instrument on the 3.6-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. The results will appear online in the journal Nature on 17 October 2012.
Alpha Centauri is one of the brightest stars in the southern skies and is the nearest stellar system to our Solar System — only 4.3 light-years away. It is actually a triple star — a system consisting of two stars similar to the Sun orbiting close to each other, designated Alpha Centauri A and B, and a more distant and faint red component known as Proxima Centauri . Since the nineteenth century astronomers have speculated about planets orbiting these bodies, the closest possible abodes for life beyond the Solar System, but searches of increasing precision had revealed nothing. Until now.
“Our observations extended over more than four years using the HARPS instrument and have revealed a tiny, but real, signal from a planet orbiting Alpha Centauri B every 3.2 days,” says Xavier Dumusque (Geneva Observatory, Switzerland and Centro de Astrofisica da Universidade do Porto, Portugal), lead author of the paper. “It’s an extraordinary discovery and it has pushed our technique to the limit!”
The European team detected the planet by picking up the tiny wobbles in the motion of the star Alpha Centauri B created by the gravitational pull of the orbiting planet . The effect is minute — it causes the star to move back and forth by no more than 51 centimetres per second (1.8 km/hour), about the speed of a baby crawling. This is the highest precision ever achieved using this method.
Alpha Centauri B is very similar to the Sun but slightly smaller and less bright. The newly discovered planet, with a mass of a little more than that of the Earth , is orbiting about six million kilometres away from the star, much closer than Mercury is to the Sun in the Solar System. The orbit of the other bright component of the double star, Alpha Centauri A, keeps it hundreds of times further away, but it would still be a very brilliant object in the planet’s skies.
The first exoplanet around a Sun-like star was found by the same team back in 1995 and since then there have been more than 800 confirmed discoveries, but most are much bigger than the Earth, and many are as big as Jupiter . The challenge astronomers now face is to detect and characterise a planet of mass comparable to the Earth that is orbiting in the habitable zone  around another star. The first step has now been taken .
“This is the first planet with a mass similar to Earth ever found around a star like the Sun. Its orbit is very close to its star and it must be much too hot for life as we know it,” adds Stéphane Udry (Geneva Observatory), a co-author of the paper and member of the team, “but it may well be just one planet in a system of several. Our other HARPS results, and new findings from Kepler, both show clearly that the majority of low-mass planets are found in such systems.”
“This result represents a major step towards the detection of a twin Earth in the immediate vicinity of the Sun. We live in exciting times!” concludes Xavier Dumusque.
Huge news! Astronomers have announced they have found a planet orbiting one of the stars making up the most famous star in the sky: Alpha Centauri, the closest star system to our own! At 4.3 light years distant, this is far and away the closest exoplanet known… and of course, it has to be.
Alpha Centauri is triple-star system, composed of a binary star, two stars much like the Sun – one slightly larger and hotter, called Alpha Centauri A, and the other slightly smaller and cooler, called Alpha Centauri B – orbited themselves by a red dwarf (called Proxima Centauri) much farther out.
The planet orbits close in to Alpha Cen B, and is technically called Alpha Centauri Bb – planets have lower case letters assigned to them, starting at b. Its mass is only 1.13 times the Earth’s mass, making this one of the lower mass planets yet found! But don’t get your hopes up of visiting it – its period is only 3.24 days, meaning it must be only about 6 million kilometers (less than 4 million miles) from its star. Even though Alpha Cen B is a bit cooler than the Sun, this still means the planet is baking hot, far too hot to sustain any kind of life as we know it, or even liquid water.
Still. Holy crap! A planet for Alpha Cen. Wow.
The reason this is a big deal is twofold. For one, Alpha Cen is the closest star system in the sky. Because of that it’s very bright, and well studied. Planets searches have looked there for decades, and in fact for a while it was thought the dinky red dwarf Proxima might have a planet. Those earlier findings have been shown to be wrong, though. If it has a planet, it’s too small or too far out from the star (or both) to detect it easily.
The other reason this is important is that the signal from the planet is incredibly weak. It was found through its gravity. As it orbits Alpha Cen B, the planet tugs on the star, like two children holding hands and swinging each other around. This sets up a very small but detectable Doppler shift in the starlight. The more massive the planet is, the harder it tugs on the star, and the bigger the signal (making it easier to detect). Also, the closer in a planet is, the larger the signal is… and you get the added benefit of a short orbital period, so you don’t have to observe as long to see the cycle of the Doppler shift.
In this case, the planet is low mass but very close in. The Doppler shift in the starlight amounts to a mere half meter per second – slower than walking speed! When I read that I was stunned; that low of a signal is incredibly hard to detect. Heck, the star’s rotation is three times that big. But looking at the paper, it’s pretty convincing. They did a fantastic job teasing that out of the noise.
The graph displayed shows the effect of the planet on the star. RV means "radial velocity", the speed toward and away from us as the star gets tugged by the planet. The x-axis is time, measured in units of the period of the planet (in other words, where it reads as 1 that means 3.24 days). The dots look like they’re just scattered around, but when you average them together – say, taking all the dots in a one hour time period – you get the red dots shown (the vertical lines are the error bars). The signal then pops right out, and you can see the tell-tale sine wave of a planet pulling its star.
This is incredibly exciting to me! A few years ago, when I worked on Hubble, I looked into using it to search for planets around Alpha Cen. I worked out some simulations to see if we could detect anything, and at best we could see a Jupiter-sized planet orbiting far enough out that its faint light wouldn’t be blasted out by the star itself. It was deemed too risky an observation (too low a chance of payoff) so we didn’t get time on the telescope to make it. We’d never have seen this planet anyway; looking for a planet reflecting its star’s light is very different than looking for the Doppler shift. Obviously!
Also, c’mon. This is Alpha Centauri! Famed and fabled in a thousand science fiction stories. It’s where the Robinson family was supposed to go in "Lost in Space". It’s where Zefram Cochrane lived in "Star Trek". It’s where the Fithp came from in Footfall. Because the system is bright and close, and the stars so close to being like our own Sun, they’re an obvious place to put aliens. Plus, you get the exotic locale of a binary star plus the red dwarf thrown in on top. It’s perfect!
So I, and a lot of people like me, grew up hoping against hope we’d find a planet around one of these stars someday.
And here we are.
My very, very sincere and gracious thanks to the team that made these observations. Even if this planet is cooked to within an inch of its life, this is still literally a fantasy come true.
And it reinforces my own thinking that we are very close to finding a planet with the same mass as Earth at just the right distance from its star to have liquid water, and therefore, potentially life. We are finding planets the right mass but at the wrong place, and at the right place but with the wrong mass.
But we’re zeroing in on Terra Nova, folks, and statistically speaking there should be millions of them in the galaxy. It’s only a matter of time before we find the first one.
Isn't Cybertron also supposed to be a planet of Alpha Centauri sometimes?
7 Jul 2012
The thread in P&R that started off about circumcision (and would up being about abortion) seems to be missing.
18 Apr 2012
Yes, it's a Transformer that turns into (a Japanese brand equivalent to) a Popsicle.
Does this beat out "a shoe" and "1/3 of a camera" as the weirdest and most impractical alt-mode in the history of Transformers?
14 May 2013 - 1:46
20 Apr 2013 - 17:54
20 Apr 2013 - 3:47
4 Mar 2013 - 17:25
30 Jan 2013 - 18:48
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