Space and Astronomy - Notable Research and Discoveries

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space and astronomyKYLE KIRKLAND, PH.D.Notable Research and DiscoveriesSPACE AND ASTRONOMYSPACE AND ASTRONOMY: Notable Research and DiscoveriesCopyright 2010 by Kyle Kirkland, Ph.D.All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any infor-mation storage or retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher. For information contact:Facts On File, Inc.An imprint of Infobase Publishing132 West 31st StreetNew York NY 10001Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication DataKirkland, Kyle. Space and astronomy : notable research and discoveries / Kyle Kirkland. p. cm. (Frontiers of science) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-8160-7445-7 ISBN 978-1-4381-3122-1 (e-book) 1. Space astronomy. 2. Outer spaceExploration. 3. Discoveries in science. I. Title. QB136.K57 2010 520dc22 2009032803Facts On File books are available at special discounts when purchased in bulk quantities for businesses, associations, institutions, or sales promotions. Please call our Special Sales Department in New York at (212) 967-8800 or (800) 322-8755.You can nd Facts On File on the World Wide Web at http://www.factsonle.comExcerpts included herewith have been reprinted by permission of the copyright holders; the author has made every eort to contact copyright holders. e publishers will be glad to rectify, in future editions, any errors or omissions brought to their notice.Text design by Kerry CaseyComposition by Mary Susan Ryan-FlynnIllustrations by Melissa EricksenPhoto research by Tobi Zausner, Ph.D.Cover printed by Bang Printing, Inc., Brainerd, Minn.Book printed and bound by Bang Printing, Inc., Brainerd, Minn.Date printed: June 2010Printed in the United States of America10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1is book is printed on acid-free paper.ContentsPreface ixAcknowledgments xiiiIntroduction xv1ExtrasolarPlanets:WorldsbeyondtheSolarSystem 1Introduction 2Arecibo Observatory 6Pulsar Planets 8Using Radial Velocity to Detect Planets 9Doppler Effect 10Formation of Planets 14Extrasolar Earths 15National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) 16Kepler Project 19Extraterrestrial BiologyLife beyond Earth 21Conclusion 23Chronology 26Further Resources 272ColonizationinSpaceandonOtherWorlds 30Introduction 31International Space Station (ISS) 35Future Habitats 38Artificial Gravity 40Life on the Frontier 42Space Frontier Foundation 45Lunar Colony 46Mars Colony 48TerraformingPlanetary Makeover 50Conclusion 52Chronology 54Further Resources 553TravelingamongtheStars 58Introduction 59Taking the Slow Boat 62Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) 64Making Time Go Slower 66Special Theory of Relativity 68Starship Propulsion 70Sailing with Light and the Solar Wind 73Engines That Use Antimatter 76Antimatter 77WormholesTunnels in Space and Time 79Conclusion 81Chronology 83Further Resources 844GravitationalWaves 87Introduction 88Space-Time Ripples 91Einsteins Universe 92Hulse-Taylor Binary Star System: Indirectly Measuring a Gravitational Wave 94Attempts at Direct Measurement 96National Science Foundation 99LIGO: Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory 99Gravitational Wave Astronomy 102LISA: Laser Interferometry Space Antenna 105Conclusion 107Chronology 109Further Resources 1105FormationandEvolutionofGalaxies 113Introduction 115Birth of the Universe and the Formation of Galaxies 118Galaxy Evolution 122GALEX: Galaxy Evolution Explorer 124Collisions on a Grand Scale 125Black Holes and Galaxies 129Quasarsthe Heart of a Galaxy 130Simulating Galactic Evolution with Computers 133The Fate of Galaxies 134Conclusion 136Chronology 137Further Resources 1396TheHiddenUniverse:DarkMatterandDarkEnergy 142Introduction 143The Amount of Dark Matter and Dark Energy in the Universe 146Possible Components of Dark Matter 147Detecting Dark Matter Particles 149Soudan Underground Laboratory and the Search for Dark Matter 150A Better Understanding of the Gravitational Force 153The Accelerating Expansion of the Universe 154Cosmological Constant 155The Nature of Dark Energy 157Fate of the Universe 160Conclusion 161Chronology 163Further Resources 164FinalThoughts 167Glossary 172FurtherResources 177Index 180ixPrefaCeDiscovering what lies behind a hill or beyond a neighborhood can be as simple as taking a short walk. But curiosity and the urge to make new dis-coveries usually require people to undertake journeys much more adven-turesome than a short walk, and scientists ofen study realms far removed from everyday observationsometimes even beyond the present means of travel or vision. Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicuss (14731543) heliocentric (Sun-centered) model of the solar system, published in 1543, ushered in the modern age of astronomy more than 400 years before the frst rocket escaped Earths gravity. Scientists today probe the tiny domain of atoms, pilot submersibles into marine trenches far beneath the waves, and analyze processes occurring deep within stars.Many of the newest areas of scientifc research involve objects or places that are not easily accessible, if at all. Tese objects may be trillions of miles away, such as the newly discovered planetary systems, or they may be as close as inside a persons head; the brain, a delicate organ encased and pro-tected by the skull, has frustrated many of the best eforts of biologists until recently. Te subject of interest may not be at a vast distance or concealed by a protective covering, but instead it may be removed in terms of time. For example, people need to learn about the evolution of Earths weather and climate in order to understand the changes taking place today, yet no one can revisit the past.Frontiers of Science is an eight-volume set that explores topics at the forefront of research in the following sciences:biological scienceschemistryspace and astronomy computer scienceEarth sciencemarine sciencephysicsspace and astronomyweather and climateTe set focuses on the methods and imagination of people who are pushing the boundaries of science by investigating subjects that are not readily observable or are otherwise cloaked in mystery. Each volume includes six topics, one per chapter, and each chapter has the same for-mat and structure. Te chapter provides a chronology of the topic and establishes its scientifc and social relevance, discusses the critical ques-tions and the research techniques designed to answer these questions, describes what scientists have learned and may learn in the future, high-lights the technological applications of this knowledge, and makes rec-ommendations for further reading. Te topics cover a broad spectrum of the science, from issues that are making headlines to ones that are not as yet well known. Each chapter can be read independently; some overlap among chapters of the same volume is unavoidable, so a small amount of repetition is necessary for each chapter to stand alone. But the repetition is minimal, and cross-references are used as appropriate.Scientifc inquiry demands a number of skills. Te National Com-mittee on Science Education Standards and Assessment and the Na-tional Research Council, in addition to other organizations such as the National Science Teachers Association, have stressed the training and development of these skills. Science students must learn how to raise important questions, design the tools or experiments necessary to an-swer these questions, apply models in explaining the results and revise the model as needed, be alert to alternative explanations, and construct and analyze arguments for and against competing models.Progress in science ofen involves deciding which competing theo-ry, model, or viewpoint provides the best explanation. For example, a major issue in biology for many decades was determining if the brain functions as a whole (the holistic model) or if parts of the brain carry out specialized functions (functional localization). Recent developments in brain imaging resolved part of this issue in favor of functional localiza-tion by showing that specifc regions of the brain are more active during icertain tasks. At the same time, however, these experiments have raised other questions that future research must answer.Te logic and precision of science are elegant, but applying scientifc skills can be daunting at frst. Te goals of the Frontiers of Science set are to explain how scientists tackle difcult research issues and to describe re-cent advances made in these felds. Understanding the science behind the advances is critical because sometimes new knowledge and theories seem unbelievable until the underlying methods become clear. Consider the following examples. Some scientists have claimed that the last few years are the warmest in the past 500 or even 1,000 years, but reliable tempera-ture records date only from about 1850. Geologists talk of volcano hot spots and plumes of abnormally hot rock rising through deep channels, although no one has drilled more than a few miles below the surface. Teams of neuroscientistsscientists who study the braindisplay im-ages of the activity of the brain as a person dreams, yet the subjects skull has not been breached. Scientists ofen debate the validity of new experi-ments and theories, and a proper evaluation requires an understanding of the reasoning and technology that support or refute the arguments.Curiosity about how scientists came to know what they doand why they are convinced that their beliefs are truehas always motivat-ed me to study not just the facts and theories but also the reasons why these are true (or at least believed). I could never accept unsupported statements or confne my attention to one scientifc discipline. When I was yo