Interstellar Travel: Hawking aims for Alpha Centauri

In the announcement of the most ambitious space exploration project yet Prof. Stephen Hawking set out a plan, with financial backing from investors such as Yuri Milner and Mark Zuckerberg, to send a spacecraft to our neighbouring star in the coming decades. The proposal named ‘Breakthrough Starshot’, sees a $100 million investment in the development…

Kepler-452b: The Importance and Reality of the “Earth 2.0” Discovery

Yesterdays announcement by the NASA Kepler mission confirmed many new exoplanets discovered by the impressive telescope. Among these is the press self-proclaimed “Earth 2.0” or Kepler-452b. There are reasons to both get excited and be hesitant about these announcements. The raw facts released in the paper published to Astrophysical Journal – http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/ms-r1b.pdf – suggests that this…

Physics Horizon to Begin Regular Posts Very Soon!

Hi Readers, Physics Horizon has been very much stagnant for a while now, but I am still very thankful for such a constant stream of readers who seem to really enjoy even the now archival new articles. With my final examinations for my degree coming to a close in just under a months time, I…

Looking at the Dark Matter World

Hi readers of Physics Horizon. It has been a few months since there was the last news post! The reason for this is I have been working hard on my 4th year at University. I hope to be able to bring you more regular news in the coming weeks and I am really glad that…

Undergraduate Life: Observing the Moon

For my 18th birthday just under 4 years ago I was given a 6″ Celestron Newtonian Reflector telescope. Over the years I have had a few observing sessions and every so often when the sky is clear enough have attempted some astrophotography. Below are some of the photos I have taken of an observing session…

Bad News for Cosmic Inflation

A paper released today after careful analysis of the CMB (cosmic microwave background) map captured by the Planck satellite have revealed that contrary to the claim by the BICEP2 telescope of polarisation in the photons from the CMB this could be purely due to unaccounted for galactic dust. The original BICEP2 evidence released in support of polarisation…

Sexist Bias in HST Proposal Reviews

A study carried out by the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore has found that men are more likely to have a proposal accepted than women led teams on the Hubble Space Telescope. This bias exists even though a good representation of women are on the review panel. It is not only the most recent…

Undergraduate Life: High Altitude Balloons

During my degree I have been heavily involved with the University of Birmingham Astronomical Society and one of the major projects which has occurred whilst I have been at university has been the launch of a series of high altitude balloons. These balloons are massive and filled with a large amount of helium. The first…

Undergraduate Life: Comet hunting!

A short post following on from yesterdays article regarding the Rosetta mission. At the University of Birmingham we last year installed a half metre Ritchey-Chretein Cassegrain telescope in our observatory. During the last year since it’s introduction I have taken part in a few memorable earlier morning observing trips. I though I would post some…

NASA back into space in 2017

Over the last few hours it has been announced that following the termination of the Space Shuttle program the US will begin shuttling astronauts into space again in 2017. Although this was to be expected what is a change is that the new deal is that both Boeing and SpaceX as private space companies will…

Rosetta Coming in for Landing

For the last 10 years the Rosetta spacecraft has been speeding across the solar system in order to attempt a first for humanities space exploration. The craft is preparing to rendezvous with the comet 67P (Churyumov-Gerasimenko) with a schedule of landing on the 11th November 2014. Today ESA released on which proposed landing site the…

RIP Kepler telescope… not quite

Over the past few years one of the most successful NASA projects is the exo-planet hunter Kepler space telescope. However recently a malfunction has occurred in the precision steering of the machine which has meant it is impossible for the mission to continue finding earth-sized planets around other stars. Although the telescope is out of…