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BBC Learning English

Words in the News


3rd December 2010
New stars discovered in the sky
Scientists have discovered there are three times more stars in the sky than they had thought.
New research in the "Nature" journal says this could mean there are people living on another
planet like the earth. Pallab Ghosh reports:
Astronomers have assumed that the composition of all galaxies is the same as our own. But
using a new, more powerful instrument on the Keck telescope in Hawaii, researchers have
discovered that older galaxies contain twenty times more small dim stars, called red
dwarves, than younger galaxies such as our own. Doctor Marek Kukula of the Royal
Greenwich Observatory describes what the view from a planet in an older galaxy might be
like.
"When one of these galaxies that we now know contain lots and lots of small red stars,
it may well be true that the night sky is dotted with these small, faint red stars glowing
like embers and that might produce a very pretty effect."
According to Professor Pieter van Dokkum of Yale University, the discovery also increases
the estimate of the number of planets in the universe, and therefore makes it even more likely
that there's life somewhere else in the cosmos.
"There's been particular attention recently to these red dwarf stars. In one galaxy there's
about a trillion of these stars and there's hundreds of billions of these galaxies. Even if
the planet is quite close to the star, you could have liquid water on the planet, because
the star is not as bright as the sun and so a planet can be a lot closer and still be kind of
balmy, rather than scorching hot."
The discovery that there are many more stars means that our universe is a much brighter,
more crowded place than we previously thought.
Pallab Ghosh, BBC News

Words in the News

British Broadcasting Corporation 2010


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bbclearningenglish.com

Vocabulary and definitions


astronomers

people who study the stars and outer space

composition

what something is made of

powerful instrument

here, a very effective piece of equipment that is attached to


the telescope

galaxies

groups of millions or billions of stars in space

dotted with

scattered with

glowing like embers

here, the stars give off light so that they look like lit wood
or coal after the fire has died down

the cosmos

space, where planets and stars other than Earth are found

balmy

pleasantly mild weather

scorching hot

hot enough to burn different forms of life

universe

space, and all the planets and stars in it, including Earth

More on this story: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11888362


Read and listen to the story and the vocabulary online:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/language/wordsinthenews/2010/12/101203_witn_new_stars_page.shtml

Words in the News

British Broadcasting Corporation 2010


Page 2 of 2
bbclearningenglish.com