John Bochanski is a physics professor at Rider University in Lawrenceville, NJ. John uses large surveys of the sky to study its coolest members, from nearby low-mass stars and brown dwarfs, to some of the most distant red giant stars ever discovered.
Astronomers have discovered two stars that lie more than 700,000 light-years from Earth, making them the most distant stellar members of our galaxy ever detected. Blogger John Bochanski tells the story of how his team found these faraway stars.
Astronomers have found a size gap between stars that fuse hydrogen in their cores and so-called failed stars, which never muster the ability to sustain fusion. This boundary could help observers precisely identify the smallest stellar citizens.
How old are the Sun's stellar neighbors? An inventive approach suggests that the birth rate for the nearest stars has had two peaks instead of one — meaning two distinct generations are mixing in the neighborhood.
White dwarfs can have stable habitable zones for a few billion years, and planets with Earth-like atmospheres might be much easier to detect around these stellar remnants than normal, hydrogen-fusing stars.
Astronomers searching for forming planets have a new place to look. Even the thin disks around brown dwarfs are capable of forming grains large enough that, one day, they could potentially coalesce into a rocky planet.
A new set of simulations shows that systems with so-called "hot Jupiters" might also have mini-Oort clouds detectable by today's space telescopes, giving astronomers a new potential tool for finding exotic extrasolar systems.