This year was full of significant astronomical discoveries. Ken Croswell, astronomer and author of "The Lives of Stars," will join The Daily Circuit Wednesday, Dec. 12 to talk about the biggest astronomical breakthroughs of 2012.
Croswell sent us a list of what he thinks are the biggest stories of the year in his field:
1. Alpha Centauri has an earth-mass planet. The Sun's nearest stellar neighbor, located just over four light-years away, has a planet that revolves every three days, five hours, and 40 minutes. Although this planet is much too close to its sun to harbor life, its presence suggests the existence of other Earth-sized planets located at greater distances from the star that have milder climates.
2. Curiosity lands on Mars. In August, the Curiosity spacecraft successfully landed on Mars, marking NASA's seventh successful landing on the red planet out of eight attempts.
3. Black hole tears apart wayward star. A giant black hole at the center of another galaxy billions of light-years distant tore apart a star that strayed too close, sending a bright flare that lasted for more than a year. Remarkably, astronomers were able to deduce the exact nature of the doomed star: it was a red giant, larger and cooler than the Sun.
Heidi Manning, professor of physics at Concordia College, will all join the discussion. She is currently working at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center with the Mars Science Laboratory project.