Carl Sagan’s highly inspirational 1980 TV series “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage” launched many a career in astronomy. Now the Carl Sagan Institute: Pale Blue Dot and Beyond — a research institution devoted to the pursuit of Sagan’s challenge to explore other worlds, to learn if they, too, contain life — was unveiled at Cornell University on May 9th.
An international team of astronomers has pushed back the cosmic frontier of galaxy exploration to a time when the universe was only 5 percent of its present age with the discovery of an exceptionally luminous galaxy more than 13 billion light-years from Earth. The galaxy existed so long ago, it appears to be only 100 million years old.
Astronomers have detected wildly changing temperatures on a super-Earth — the first time any atmospheric variability has been observed on a rocky planet outside the Solar System — and believe it could be due to huge amounts of volcanic activity, further adding to the mystery of what had been nicknamed the ‘diamond planet.’