Using the now-complete Cassini data set, astronomers have created a new global topographic map of Saturn's moon Titan that has opened new windows into understanding its liquid flows and terrain.
A team of astronomers seeks to change the way scientists approach the search for Earth-like planets orbiting stars other than the sun. They favor taking a statistical comparative approach in seeking habitable planets and life beyond the solar system.
Astronomers have used the sharp vision of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to repeat a century-old test of Einstein’s general theory of relativity. The team measured the mass of white dwarf Stein 2051 B, the burned-out remnant of a normal star, by seeing how much it deflects the light from a background star. The gravitational microlensing method data provide a solid estimate of the white dwarf’s mass and yield insights into theories of the structure and composition of the burned-out star.
A new study not only firms up the idea that we exist in one of the holes of the Swiss cheese structure of the cosmos, but helps ease the apparent disagreement between different measurements of the Hubble Constant, the unit cosmologists use to describe the rate at which the universe is expanding today.
The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory has made a third detection of gravitational waves, ripples in space and time, demonstrating that a new window in astronomy has been firmly opened. As was the case with the first two detections, the waves were generated when two black holes collided to form a larger black hole.
A recent statistical study has revealed that exoplanets with a mass of between 1 and 100 times the mass of Earth have a surface gravity surprisingly similar to terrestrial gravity.
A giant gas planet -- up to 50x the mass of Jupiter, encircled by a ring of dust -- is likely hurtling around a star over 1000 light years away from Earth, according to international team of astronomers.
Astronomers have put a basic principle of black holes to the test, showing that matter completely vanishes when pulled in. Their results constitute another successful test for Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity.
The moon, Earth's closest neighbor, is among the strangest planetary bodies in the solar system. Its orbit lies unusually far away from Earth, with a surprisingly large orbital tilt. Planetary scientists have struggled to piece together a scenario that accounts for these and other related characteristics of the Earth-moon system. A new research paper, based on numerical models of the moon's explosive formation and the evolution of the Earth-moon system, comes closer to tying up all the loose ends than any other previous explanation.
The GRAPES-3 muon telescope recorded a burst of galactic cosmic rays of about 20 GeV, on 22 June 2015 lasting for two hours. The burst occurred when a giant cloud of plasma ejected from the solar corona, and moving with a speed of about 2.5 million kilometers per hour struck our planet, causing a severe compression of Earth's magnetosphere from 11 to 4 times the radius of Earth. It triggered a severe geomagnetic storm that generated aurora borealis, and radio signal blackouts in many high latitude countries.
Astronomers have found the shredded remains of a galaxy that passed through a larger galaxy, leaving only the smaller galaxy's nearly-naked supermassive black hole to emerge and speed away at more than 2,000 miles per second.
Spectacular new observations of vast pillar-like structures within the Carina Nebula have been made using the MUSE instrument on ESO's Very Large Telescope. The different pillars analysed by an international team seem to be pillars of destruction -- in contrast to the name of the iconic Pillars of Creation in the Eagle Nebula, which are of similar nature.
Astronomers have discovered glowing gas clouds surrounding distant quasars. This new survey indicates that halos around quasars are far more common than expected. The properties of the halos in this surprising find are also in striking disagreement with currently accepted theories of galaxy formation in the early Universe
New results from NASA's Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission are providing insights into the huge impacts that dominated the early history of Earth's moon and other solid worlds, like Earth, Mars, and the satellites of the outer solar system.
Using data from deep-space surveys taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and other observatories, astronomers have performed a census of the number of galaxies in the universe. The team came to the surprising conclusion that there are at least 10 times as many galaxies in the observable universe than previously thought. The results have clear implications for our understanding of galaxy formation, and also helps shed light on an ancient astronomical paradox -- why is the sky dark at night?
Astronomers have revealed that dense molecular gas disks a few hundred light years in scale located at the centers of galaxies supply gas to supermassive black holes situated within them. This finding provides important insights on the growth of supermassive black holes over cosmic time.
Astrophysicists have created the largest ever map of voids and superclusters in the Universe, which helps solve a long-standing cosmological mystery.
Scientists have found the first gamma-ray binary in another galaxy and the most luminous one ever seen. The dual-star system, dubbed LMC P3, contains a massive star and a crushed stellar core that interact to produce a cyclic flood of gamma rays, the highest-energy form of light.
After a two-year orbital tour around comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, ESA's Rosetta spacecraft -- carrying the Alice ultraviolet spectrograph -- will end its mission on Sept. 30. Rosetta is the first spacecraft to orbit and escort a comet, and Alice, developed and operated for NASA, is the first instrument to obtain far-ultraviolet observations at a comet.
International teams of astronomers have used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to explore the distant corner of the Universe first revealed in the iconic images of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF). These new ALMA observations are significantly deeper and sharper than previous surveys at millimetre wavelengths. They clearly show how the rate of star formation in young galaxies is closely related to their total mass in stars. They also trace the previously unknown abundance of star-forming gas at different points in time, providing new insights into the “Golden Age” of galaxy formation approximately 10 billion years ago.
Scientists have taken a critical step towards understanding why different types of galaxies exist throughout the Universe. The research, made possible by cutting-edge instrumentation, means that astronomers can now classify galaxies according to their physical properties rather than human interpretation of a galaxy's appearance.
If two galaxies collide, the merging of their central black holes triggers gravitational waves, which ripple throughout space. An international research team has now calculated that this occurs around 10 million years after the two galaxies merge -- much faster than previously assumed.
Astronomers have charted the rise and fall of galaxies over 90 percent of cosmic history. The FourStar Galaxy Evolution Survey has built a multicolored photo album of galaxies as they grow from their faint beginnings into mature and majestic giants. They did so by measuring distances and brightnesses for more than 70,000 galaxies spanning more than 12 billion years of cosmic time, revealing the breadth of galactic diversity.
An international team of astronomers reports that they were able to achieve four times better precision in measurements of how the universe's visible matter is clustered together by studying the empty spaces in between.
Physicists have succeeded in detecting a time-resolved supernova signal in the Earth's microfossil record. As the group shows, the supernova signal was first detectable at a time starting about 2.7 million years ago. According to the researcher's analyses, our solar system spent one million years to transit trough the remnants of a supernova.
A major revision is required in our understanding of our Milky Way Galaxy according to an international team. Astronomers have found that there is a huge region around the center of our own galaxy, which is devoid of young stars.
Fifty years ago Captain Kirk and the crew of the starship Enterprise began their journey into space -- the final frontier. Now, as the newest Star Trek film hits cinemas, the NASA/ESA Hubble space telescope is also exploring new frontiers, observing distant galaxies in the galaxy cluster Abell S1063 as part of the Frontier Fields program.
Two astronomers -- with the help of Twitter--have uncovered the strongest evidence yet that an enormous X-shaped structure made of stars lies within the central bulge of the Milky Way Galaxy.
A violent outburst by the young star V883 Orionis has given astronomers using ALMA their first view of a water 'snowline' in a protoplanetary disk -- the transition point around the star where the temperature and pressure are low enough for water ice to form.
The European Space Agency's orbiting X-ray observatory, XMM-Newton, has proved the existence of a "gravitational vortex" around a black hole. The discovery, aided by NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) mission, solves a mystery that has eluded astronomers for more than 30 years, and will allow them to map the behavior of matter very close to black holes. It could also open the door to future investigations of Albert Einstein's general relativity.
ESO's HAWK-I infrared instrument on the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile has been used to peer deeper into the heart of Orion Nebula than ever before. The spectacular picture reveals about ten times as many brown dwarfs and isolated planetary-mass objects than were previously known. This discovery poses challenges for the widely accepted scenario for Orion's star formation history.
Geologists trace Mercury's origins to weird, rare meteorite, and find planet cooled dramatically shortly after it formed.
A European team of astronomers have used the new GRAVITY instrument at ESO's Very Large Telescope to obtain exciting observations of the center of the Milky Way by combining light from all four of the 8.2-meter Unit Telescopes for the first time. These results provide a taste of the groundbreaking science that GRAVITY will produce as it probes the extremely strong gravitational fields close to the central supermassive black hole and tests Einstein's general relativity.
Astronomers have presented one of the most complete models of matter in the universe and predict hundreds of massive black hole mergers each year observable with the second generation of gravitational wave detectors.
A simulation of the powerful jets generated by supermassive black holes at the centres of the largest galaxies explains why some burst forth as bright beacons visible across the universe, while others fall apart and never pierce the halo of the galaxy. About 10 per cent of all galaxies with active nuclei – all presumed to have supermassive black holes within the central bulge – are observed to have jets of gas spurting in opposite directions from the core. The hot ionized gas is propelled by the twisting magnetic fields of the rotating black hole, which can be as large as several billion suns.
Astronomers are researching the way in which celestial bodies orbit each other, now and in the future. This often turns out to be more erratic than you might think
The Milky Way, the brilliant river of stars that has dominated the night sky and human imaginations since time immemorial, is but a faded memory to one third of humanity and 80 percent of Americans, according to a new global atlas of light pollution produced by Italian and American scientists.
Using the upgraded Very Large Array, astronomers have produced a detailed radio map of the upper 100 kilometers of Jupiter's atmosphere, revealing the complex movement of ammonia gas that shapes the colorful clouds observed in the optical. The map will help understand how global circulation and cloud formation are driven by Jupiter's powerful internal heat source, and shed light on similar processes on giant planets in our solar system and around distant stars.
Using an "intuitive" approach, a new study confirms a recent hypothesis on the formation of galaxies, according to which the larger elliptical galaxies formed in very ancient times through a process of local (in situ) star formation. This contradicts the current paradigm that they formed through the merging of spiral galaxies, a view which, despite being generally accepted by most of the scientific community, has been a source of theoretical inconsistencies. The study supports the in situ hypothesis, already proposed with theoretical models, basing itself only on the analysis and interpolation of new data collected by the Herschel instrument (in the infrared) integrated with Hubble data (in the ultraviolet), an innovative yet simple method.
In contradiction to the long-standing idea that larger planets take longer to form, astronomers have announced the discovery of a giant planet in close orbit around a star so young that it still retains a disk of circumstellar gas and dust.
Black holes are still very mysterious celestial bodies which, according to the majority of physicists, do not, however, escape the laws of thermodynamics. As a result, these physical systems possess an entropy though no real agreement has been reached about the microscopic origin of this propriety and how it should be calculated. Scientists have now achieved important results in this calculation by applying a new formalism (Group Field Theory) of Loop Quantum Gravity (LQG), a very popular approach in the area of quantum gravity.
Fewer than predicted planets may be capable of harboring life because their atmospheres keep them too hot, new research suggests.
Scientists are solving one of the biggest unsolved mysteries in galaxy evolution. Scientists have uncovered a new class of galaxies, called "red geysers," with supermassive black hole winds so hot and energetic that stars can't form. Over the last few billion years, a mysterious kind of "galactic warming" has caused many galaxies to change from a lively place where new stars formed every now and then to a quiet place devoid of fresh young stars. But the mechanism that produces this dramatic transformation and keeps galaxies quiet has been one of the biggest unsolved mysteries in galaxy evolution.
Astrophysicists have taken a major step forward in understanding how supermassive black holes formed. Using data from Hubble and two other space telescopes, researchers have found the best evidence yet for the seeds that ultimately grow into these cosmic giants.
Astronomers have detected for the first time the most luminous gamma-ray emission from the merging galaxy Arp 220 -- the nearest ultraluminous infrared galaxy to Earth reveals the hidden extreme energetic processes in galaxies. Luminous infrared galaxies and ultraluminous infrared galaxies are the most luminous of all galaxies.
Scientists have detected and confirmed the faintest early-universe galaxy ever, using the W. M. Keck Observatory on the summit on Mauna Kea in Hawaii. The team detected the galaxy as it was 13 billion years ago.
On May 12, 2016, astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captured this striking image of Mars, when the planet was 50 million miles from Earth. The photo reveals details as small as 20 miles to 30 miles across. This observation was made just a few days before Mars opposition on May 22, when the sun and Mars will be on exact opposite sides of Earth, and Mars will be 47 million miles from Earth.
Astronomers have made an unexpected discovery that a large group of stars are dying prematurely, challenging our accepted view of stellar evolution.
Physicists have now provided the first major results of NASA's Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission, including an unprecedented look at the interaction between the magnetic fields of Earth and the sun. The article describes the first direct and detailed observation of a phenomenon known as magnetic reconnection, which occurs when two opposing magnetic field lines break and reconnect with each other, releasing massive amounts of energy.
A faint blue galaxy nicknamed Leoncino, or 'little lion,' about 30 million light-years from Earth and located in the constellation Leo Minor has been identified by astronomers as possessing qualities that could shed new light on conditions at the birth of the universe.
Scientists have confirmed that 1,284 objects observed outside Earth's solar system by NASA's Kepler spacecraft are indeed planets. The researchers used an automated technique that allows scientists to efficiently determine if a Kepler signal is caused by a planet. It is the largest single announcement of new planets to date and more than doubles the number of confirmed planets discovered by Kepler so far.
Astrophysicists have detected an intense wind from one of the closest known black holes to the Earth
A giant star that exploded 30 million years ago in a galaxy near Earth had a radius prior to going supernova that was 200 times larger than our sun, say astrophysicists. The massive explosion, Supernova 2013ej, was one of the closest to Earth in recent years. Comprehensive analysis of the exploding star's light curve and color spectrum found its sudden blast hurled material outward at 10,000 kilometers a second.
Astronomers have discovered that the central 2000 light years within the Milky Way Galaxy hosts an ancient population of stars. These stars are more than 10 billion years old and their orbits in space preserve the early history of the formation of the Milky Way. For the first time the team kinematically disentangled this ancient component from the stellar population that currently dominates the mass of the central Galaxy.
A new set of experiments sheds light on how much heat is created when ice is deformed, which could help scientists understand the possibility of a subsurface ocean on one of Jupiter's moons.
Approximately two million years ago a star exploded in a supernova close to our solar system: Its traces can still be found today in the form of an iron isotope found on the ocean floor. Now scientists have found increased concentrations of this supernova-iron in lunar samples as well. They believe both discoveries to originate from the same stellar explosion.
A new image captures a spectacular concentration of galaxies known as the Fornax Cluster, which can be found in the southern hemisphere constellation of Fornax (The Furnace). The cluster plays host to a menagerie of galaxies of all shapes and sizes, some of which are hiding secrets.
A way of estimating more accurate distances to the thousands of so-called 'planetary nebulae' dispersed across our Galaxy has just been announced by a team of three astronomers.
A dying star ends its life in a cataclysmic explosion, shooting the majority of the star's material, primarily new chemical elements created during the explosion, out into space.
When re-analyzing cataloged and updated observational data of brown dwarfs in the solar neighborhood, astronomers have found that a significant number of nearby brown dwarfs should still be out there, awaiting their discovery. The study challenges the previously established picture of brown dwarfs in the solar neighborhood.
One of the largest supermassive black holes on record has been discovered in an unexpected place: a relatively sparse region of the local universe where massive galaxies -- the typical home of these huge black holes -- are few and far between. According new research, there could be many more such black holes -- quiescent quasars -- hiding in the universe's deserts. This one may be or once was a binary black hole.
Peering deep into the heart of our Milky Way galaxy, this Hubble Space Telescope image reveals a rich tapestry of more than half a million stars. Except for a few blue, foreground stars, the stars are part of the Milky Way’s nuclear star cluster, the most massive and densest star cluster in our galaxy.
Combining an orbiting radio telescope with telescopes on Earth made a system capable of the highest resolution of any observation ever made in astronomy. The super sharp radio 'vision' produced a pair of surprises.
A new map of Mars' gravity made with three NASA spacecraft is the most detailed to date, providing a revealing glimpse into the hidden interior of the Red Planet.
Two supernovae have been caught in the act of exploding by an international team of astrophysicists. Stars 10 to 20 times the mass of our sun often puff up to supergiants before ending their lives as supernovae. These stars are so large that Earth's orbit would easily fit inside such a star.
Pluto's surface exhibits a wide variety of landscapes, results from five new studies in this special issue on the New Horizons mission report. The dwarf planet has more differences than similarities with its large moon, Charon. What's more, the studies in this package reveal, Pluto modifies its space environment -- interacting with the solar wind plasma and energetic particles around it. The results pave the way for many further, in-depth studies of Pluto.
Astronomers using the unique ultraviolet capabilities of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have identified nine monster stars with masses over 100 times the mass of the Sun in the star cluster R136. This makes it the largest sample of very massive stars identified to date. The results raise many new questions about the formation of massive stars.
Violent red flashes, lasting just fractions of a second, have been observed during one of the brightest black hole outbursts in recent years. In June 2015, a black hole called V404 Cygni underwent dramatic brightening for about two weeks, as it devoured material that it had stripped off an orbiting companion star. V404 Cygni, which is about 7,800 light years from Earth, was the first definitive black hole to be identified in our Galaxy and can appear extremely bright when it is actively devouring material. Astronomers report that the black hole emitted dazzling red flashes lasting just fractions of a second, as it blasted out material that it could not swallow.
Researchers have discovered about 80 young galaxies in the early universe about 1.2 billion years after the Big Bang. They made detailed analyses of imaging data by the Hubble Space Telescope. Among them, 8 galaxies show double-component structures and the remaining 46 seem to have elongated structures. These results strongly suggest that galactic clumps in the young universe grow to become large galaxies through mergers.
Astronomers obtained the sharpest view ever of the dusty disc around an aging star. For the first time such features can be compared to those around young stars -- and they look surprisingly similar. It is even possible that a disc appearing at the end of a star's life might also create a second generation of planets.
The Universe is constantly expanding. It changes, creating new structures that merge. But how does our Universe evolve? Physicists at the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, have developed a new code of numerical simulations that offers a glimpse of the complex process of the formation of structures in the Universe. Based on Einstein's equations, they were able to integrate the rotation of space-time into their calculations and calculate the amplitude of gravitational waves, whose existence was confirmed for the first time on February 12, 2016. This study is published in the journal Nature Physics.
The discovery of hundreds of giant comets in the outer planetary system over the last two decades means that these objects pose a much greater hazard to life than asteroids, a team of astronomers reports.
Mars' largest moon -- one of only two in our solar system moving inward towards its planet -- will eventually be torn apart by tidal forces and distributed in a ring around the planet, a study of the cohesiveness of Phobos has concluded. This would take about 10-20 million years, and the ring will persist for up to 100 million years before the dust falls into Mars' atmosphere and burns up as 'moon' showers.
Vast volumes of water once flooded through this deep chasm on Mars that connects the 'Grand Canyon' of the Solar System – Valles Marineris – to the planet's northern lowlands.
NASA recently reported that a cloud of dust was surrounding Mars high above its atmosphere. The authors of the study ruled out Mars itself and its moons Phobos and Deimos as the sources of the dust and concluded that it must come from a larger dust cloud floating around between the planets in our solar system.
One year since Philae made its historic landing on a comet, mission teams remain hopeful for renewed contact with the lander, while also looking ahead to next year's grand finale: making a controlled impact of the Rosetta orbiter on the comet.
NASA's Cassini spacecraft has begun transmitting its latest images of Saturn's icy, geologically active moon Enceladus, acquired during the dramatic Oct. 28 flyby in which the probe passed about 30 miles (49 kilometers) above the moon's south polar region. The spacecraft will continue transmitting its data from the encounter for the next several days.
While Mars doesn't have much in the way of Earth-like weather, it does evidently share one kind of weird meteorology: acid fog.
Solar storms and the particles they release result in spectacular phenomena such as auroras, but they can also pose a serious risk to our society. In extreme cases they have caused major power outages, and they could also lead to breakdowns of satellites and communication systems. According to a study published today in Nature Communications, solar storms could be much more powerful than previously assumed. Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have now confirmed that Earth was hit by two extreme solar storms more than 1,000 years ago.
Using a new process in planetary formation modeling, where planets grow from tiny bodies called 'pebbles,' scientists can explain why Mars is so much smaller than Earth. This same process also explains the rapid formation of the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn, as reported earlier this year.
Astronomers have discovered a gargantuan galaxy cluster with a core bursting with new stars -- an incredibly rare find. The discovery is the first to show that gigantic galaxies at the centers of massive clusters can grow significantly by feeding off gas stolen from other galaxies.
A team of international scientists has shown for the first time that galaxies can change their structure over the course of their lifetime.
It is one of the most intriguing questions in astrochemistry: the mystery of the diffuse interstellar bands (DIBs), a collection of about 400 absorption bands that show up in spectra of light that reaches the earth after having traversed the interstellar medium. Despite intense research efforts over the last few decades, an assignment of the DIBs has remained elusive, although indications exist that they may arise from the presence of large hydrocarbon molecules in interstellar space. Recent experiments lend novel credibility to this hypothesis.
A newly discovered dwarf galaxy orbiting our own Milky Way has offered up a surprise -- it appears to be radiating gamma rays, according to an analysis by physicists. The exact source of this high-energy light is uncertain at this point, but it just might be a signal of dark matter lurking at the galaxy's center.
Astronomers have found what appears to be the largest feature in the observable universe: a ring of nine gamma ray bursts -- and hence galaxies - 5 billion light years across.
Astronomers have successfully commissioned a new type of optic that can reveal the image of an exoplanet next to its parent star. The 'vector Apodizing Phase Plate' (vector-APP) coronagraph was installed at the 6.5-m Magellan Clay telescope in Chile in May 2015, and the first observations demonstrated an unprecedented contrast performance very close to the star, where planets are more likely to reside. These results will be presented by PhD student Gilles Otten this Monday afternoon to the scientific community at the "In the Spirit of Lyot" conference organized by the Centre for Research in Astrophysics of Quebec and researchers at the University of Montreal.
Saturn's moon Titan is home to seas and lakes filled with liquid hydrocarbons, but what forms the depressions on the surface? A new study using data from the joint NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) Cassini mission suggests the moon's surface dissolves in a process that's similar to the creation of sinkholes on Earth.
Planets with volcanic activity are considered better candidates for life than worlds without such heated internal goings-on.
Researchers from Brown University have used satellite data to detect deposits of glass within impact craters on Mars. Though formed in the searing heat of a violent impact, the glasses just might provide a delicate window into the possibility of past life on the Red Planet.
Rosetta's target 'Chury' and other comets observed by space missions show common evidence of layered structures and bi-lobed shapes. With 3D computer simulations an astrophysicist was able to reconstruct the formation of these features as a result of gentle collisions and mergers.
In the most extensive survey of its kind ever conducted, a team of scientists have found an unambiguous link between the presence of supermassive black holes that power high-speed, radio-signal-emitting jets and the merger history of their host galaxies. The results lend significant weight to the case for jets being the result of merging black holes.
Astronomers have discovered three "cosmic Methusalems" from the earliest years of the universe. These unusual stars are about 13 billion years old and experts assign them to the first generations of stars after the "dark ages." The chemical qualities of these extremely rare stellar bodies enable new insights into the events that must have led to the origins of the stars. The first stars have been assumed to be high-mass and to shine especially brightly. However, the latest observations point to hitherto unknown phenomena in the young universe, allowing for the emergence of much smaller stars.
Astronomers have found that the black holes located at the cores of galaxies launch fountains of charged particles, which can stir up gas throughout the galaxy and temporarily interrupt star formation. But unless something intervenes, the gas will eventually cool and start forming stars again.
Scientists have captured the early death throes of supernovae for the first time and found that the universe's benchmark explosions are much more varied than expected.The scientists used the Kepler space telescope to photograph three type 1a supernovae in the earliest stages of ignition. They then tracked the explosions in detail to full brightness around three weeks later, and the subsequent decline over the next few months.
Astronomers using ESO's Very Large Telescope in Chile have captured the most detailed image ever taken of the Medusa Nebula. As the star at the heart of this nebula made its transition into retirement, it shed its outer layers into space, forming a colorful cloud. The image foreshadows the final fate of the Sun, which will eventually also become an object of this kind.
Type Ia supernovae, one of the most dazzling phenomena in the universe, are produced when small dense stars called white dwarfs explode with ferocious intensity. At their peak, these supernovae can outshine an entire galaxy. Although thousands of supernovae of this kind were found in the last decades, the process by which a white dwarf becomes one has been unclear.
To measure distances in the Universe, astronomers use Cepheids, a family of variable stars whose luminosity varies with time. Their role as distance calibrators has brought them attention from researchers for more than a century. While it was thought that nearly everything was known about the prototype of Cepheids, named Delta Cephei, a team of researchers have now discovered that this star is not alone, but that it has a hidden companion.
As part of an observing program carried out with the Subaru Telescope and the Hubble Space Telescope, a group of researchers from the Service d'Astrophysique- Laboratoire AIM of CEA-IRFU led by Anita Zanella discovered the birth cry of a massive star-forming clump in the disk of a very distant galaxy. This giant clump is less than 10 million years old, and it is the very first time that such a young star-forming region is observed in the distant universe. This discovery sheds new light on how stars were born within distant galaxies. The physical properties of this object reveal that newly-born clumps in such galaxies survive from stellar winds and supernovae feedback, and can thus live for a few hundred million years unlike the predictions from several theoretical models. Their long lifetime could enable their migration toward the inner regions of the galaxy, hence contributing to the total mass of the galactic bulge and the growth of the central black hole.
Globular clusters -- dazzling agglomerations of up to a million ancient stars -- are among the oldest objects in the universe. Though plentiful in and around many galaxies, newborn examples are vanishingly rare and the conditions necessary to create new ones have never been detected, until now.
New work from a team including Carnegie’s Christopher Glein has revealed the pH of water spewing from a geyser-like plume on Saturn’s moon Enceladus. Their findings are an important step toward determining whether life could exist, or could have previously existed, on the sixth planet’s sixth-largest moon.
Scientists using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have discovered that the immense halo of gas enveloping the Andromeda galaxy, our nearest massive galactic neighbor, is about six times larger and 1,000 times more massive than previously measured. What does this mean for our own galaxy? Because we live inside the Milky Way, scientists cannot determine whether or not such an equally massive and extended halo exists around our galaxy. It's a case of not being able to see the forest for the trees. If the Milky Way does possess a similarly huge halo, the two galaxies' halos may be nearly touching already and quiescently merging long before the two massive galaxies collide. Hubble observations indicate that the Andromeda and Milky Way galaxies will merge to form a giant elliptical galaxy beginning about 4 billion years from now.
Astronomers have pushed back the cosmic frontier of galaxy exploration to a time when the universe was only 5 percent of its present age. Age and distance are vitally connected in any discussion of the universe. The light we see from our Sun takes just eight minutes to reach us, while the light from distant galaxies we see via today's advanced telescopes travels for billions of years before it reaches us -- so we're seeing what those galaxies looked like billions of years ago.
How soon after the Big Bang could water have existed? Not right away, because water molecules contain oxygen and oxygen had to be formed in the first stars. Then that oxygen had to disperse and unite with hydrogen in significant amounts. New theoretical work finds that despite these complications, water vapor could have been just as abundant in pockets of space a billion years after the Big Bang as it is today.
The MESSENGER spacecraft is the first ever to orbit the planet Mercury, and the spacecraft's seven scientific instruments and radio science investigation are unraveling the history and evolution of the solar system's innermost planet. MESSENGER's highly successful orbital mission is about to come to an end, as the spacecraft runs out of propellant and the force of solar gravity causes it to impact the surface of Mercury near the end of April 2015.
The famous sunspots on the surface of the Earth's star result from the dynamics of strong magnetic fields, and their numbers are an important indicator of the state of activity on the Sun. Researchers have been conducting multifractal analysis into the changes in the numbers of sunspots. The resulting graphs were surprisingly asymmetrical in shape, suggesting that sunspots may be involved in hitherto unknown physical processes.
In one of the most comprehensive multi-observatory galaxy surveys yet, astronomers find that galaxies like our Milky Way underwent a stellar "baby boom," churning out stars at a prodigious rate, about 30 times faster than today.
Many galaxies blast outward from their centers huge, wide-angled flows of material -- pushing to their outer edges enough dust and gas each year to otherwise have formed more than a thousand stars the size of our sun. Astronomers have sought the driving force behind these massive molecular outflows, and now a team led by University of Maryland scientists has found an answer.
Tracking the rotation speed of solid planets, like the Earth and Mars, is a relatively simple task: Just measure the time it takes for a surface feature to roll into view again. But giant gas planets Jupiter and Saturn are more problematic for planetary scientists, as they both lack measureable solid surfaces and are covered by thick layers of clouds, foiling direct visual measurements by space probes. Saturn has presented an even greater challenge to scientists, as different parts of this sweltering ball of hydrogen and helium are known to rotate at different speeds, whereas its rotation axis and magnetic pole are aligned.
Astronomers have discovered thousands of exoplanets using the Kepler satellite. By analyzing these planetary systems, researchers have calculated the probability for the number of stars that might have planets in the habitable zone. The calculations show that billions of stars in the Milky Way will have one to three planets in the habitable zone, where there is the potential for liquid water and where life could exist
Astronomers have created a new master catalog of astronomical objects called the Hubble Source Catalog. The catalog provides one-stop shopping for measurements of objects observed with NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.
The Milky Way galaxy is at least 50 percent larger than is commonly estimated, according to new findings that reveal that the galactic disk is contoured into several concentric ripples.
As telescopes of ever-greater power scan the cosmos looking for life, knowing where to look — and where not to waste time looking — will be of great value.
Some of the galaxies in our universe are veritable star nurseries. For example, our own Milky Way produces, on average, at least one new star every year. Others went barren years ago, now producing few if any new stars.
A primitive ocean on Mars held more water than Earth’s Arctic Ocean, and covered a greater portion of the planet’s surface than the Atlantic Ocean does on Earth, according to new results published today. An international team of scientists used ESO’s Very Large Telescope, along with instruments at the W. M. Keck Observatory and the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility, to monitor the atmosphere of the planet and map out the properties of the water in different parts of Mars’s atmosphere over a six-year period. These new maps are the first of their kind. The results appear online in the journal Science today.
A handful of new stars are born each year in the Milky Way, while many more blink on across the universe. But astronomers have observed that galaxies should be churning out millions more stars, based on the amount of interstellar gas available. This study explains why galaxies don't churn out as many stars as they should.
Astronomers using data from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, have found a cluster of stars forming at the very edge of our Milky Way galaxy. This is the first time astronomers have found stars being born in such a remote location. Clouds of star-forming material at very high latitudes away from the galactic plane are rare and, in general, are not expected to form stars.
Every massive galaxy has a black hole at its center, and the heftier the galaxy, the bigger its black hole. But why are the two related? After all, the black hole is millions of times smaller and less massive than its home galaxy. A new study of football-shaped collections of stars called elliptical galaxies finds that the invisible hand of dark matter somehow influences black hole growth.
A new type of methane-based, oxygen-free life form that can metabolize and reproduce similar to life on Earth has been modeled by a team of Cornell University researchers.
One of the biggest mysteries in galaxy evolution is the fate of the compact massive galaxies that roamed the early Universe. Astronomers at Swinburne University of Technology believe they have discovered the answer.
The magnetic field that covers the Sun and determines its behavior –the eleven year cycles no less than such conspicuous phenomena as solar spots and solar storms– also has another side to it: a magnetic web that covers the entire surface of the Sun at rest and whose net magnetic flow is greater than that of the active areas. A study led by the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia (IAA-CSIC) has revealed where the flow that feeds this web comes from.
Every massive galaxy has a black hole at its center, and the heftier the galaxy, the bigger its black hole. But why are the two related? After all, the black hole is millions of times smaller and less massive than its home galaxy.
Research by New York University Biology Professor Michael Rampino concludes that Earth’s infrequent but predictable path around and through our Galaxy’s disc may have a direct and significant effect on geological and biological phenomena occurring on Earth. In a new paper in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, he concludes that movement through dark matter may perturb the orbits of comets and lead to additional heating in the Earth’s core, both of which could be connected with mass extinction events.
The latest data release from the Planck space telescope offers insight into everything from the fabric of space to dark matter -- and may even still have a shot at detecting gravitational waves, says an expert.
The 570-megapixel Dark Energy Camera, built to observe galaxies far away from Earth, also helps scientists spot and identify objects much closer to home: space junk that could damage satellites, large rocks that could hit Earth and asteroids that traverse our solar system.
Hot gas, dust and magnetic fields mingle in a colorful swirl in this new map of our Milky Way galaxy. The image is part of a new and improved data set from Planck, a European Space Agency mission in which NASA played a key role.
Two phenomena known to inhibit the potential habitability of planets -- tidal forces and vigorous stellar activity -- might instead help chances for life on certain planets orbiting low-mass stars, University of Washington astronomers have found.
Compared to other galaxies, the Milky Way is a peaceful place. But it hasn't always been so sleepy. In 2010, a team of scientists working at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics discovered a pair of "Fermi bubbles" extending tens of thousands of light-years above and below the Milky Way's disk. These structures are enormous balloons of radiation emanating from the center of our galaxy. They hint at a powerful event that took place millions of years ago, likely when the black hole at the center of our galaxy feasted on an enormous amount of gas and dust -- perhaps several hundreds or even thousands of times the mass of the sun.
Suspicions that shooting stars come from comet dust, transformed into fiery streaks as they hit Earth's atmosphere, have been bolstered by Europe's Rosetta space mission, scientists reported Monday.
Despite earlier reports of a possible detection, a joint analysis of data from ESA's Planck satellite and the ground-based BICEP2 and Keck Array experiments has found no conclusive evidence of primordial gravitational waves.
There are some topics that get a little frustrating in their pedantry, but can really draw attention to the grand scope and mechanics in our Universe. This is definitely one of them.
Based on the latest evidence and theories our galaxy could be a huge wormhole (or space-time tunnel, have you seen the movie "Interstellar?") and, if that were true, it would be "stable and navigable." This is the hypothesis put forward in a study published in Annals of Physics and conducted with the participation of SISSA in Trieste. The paper, the result of a collaboration between Indian, Italian and North American researchers, prompts scientists to re-think dark matter.
A study by astrophysicists at the University of Toronto suggests that exoplanets -- planets outside our solar system -- are more likely to have liquid water and be more habitable than we thought.
Somewhere between five and ten thousand years ago, a meteorite crashed through the atmosphere over Greenland. On its way through the atmosphere the large lump of rock, several metres across, broke into smaller pieces and was spread across the Greenlandic ice sheet and the sea at Innaanganeq (the Cape York Peninsula) near present-day Thule.
At a time when our earliest human ancestors had recently mastered walking upright, the heart of our Milky Way galaxy underwent a titanic eruption, driving gases and other material outward at 2 million miles per hour.
Last September, after years of watching, a team of scientists led by Amherst College astronomy professor Daryl Haggard observed and recorded the largest-ever flare in X-rays from a supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way. The astronomical event, which was detected by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, puts the scientific community one step closer to understanding the nature and behavior of supermassive black holes.
NASA's Dawn spacecraft has entered an approach phase in which it will continue to close in on Ceres, a Texas-sized dwarf planet never before visited by a spacecraft. Dawn launched in 2007 and is scheduled to enter Ceres orbit in March 2015.
A new analysis of a Martian rock that meteorite hunters plucked from an Antarctic ice field 30 years ago this month reveals a record of the planet's climate billions of years ago, back when water likely washed across its surface and any life that ever formed there might have emerged.
The Milky Way, the galaxy we live in, is part of a cluster of more than 50 galaxies that make up the 'Local Group', a collection that includes the famous Andromeda galaxy and many other far smaller objects. Now a Russian-American team has added to the canon, finding a tiny and isolated dwarf galaxy almost 7 million light years away. Their results appear in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
NASA and an international team of planetary scientists have found evidence in meteorites on Earth that indicates Mars has a distinct and global reservoir of water or ice near its surface.
Nearly 2,000 planets beyond our solar system have been identified to date. Whether any of these exoplanets are hospitable to life depends on a number of criteria. Among these, scientists have thought, is a planet’s obliquity — the angle of its axis relative to its orbit around a star.
A study of "MY Camelopardalis" binary system, published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, shows that the most massive stars are made up by merging with other smaller stars, as predicted by theoretical models.
Among the billions and billions of stars in the sky, where should astronomers look for infant Earths where life might develop? New research from Cornell University's Institute for Pale Blue Dots shows where -- and when -- infant Earths are most likely to be found.
Recently, the infrared Herschel Space Observatory, has taken a series of beautiful high-resolution infrared images of Andromeda. It is the first time we can see M31, at these wavelengths, at such a high resolution. The quality and sensitivity of the Herschel data is so good scientists were able to study the properties of individual regions in Andromeda as small as about 400 light years.
Most galaxies are assumed to have at their heart a supermassive black hole that draws in vast amounts of surrounding matter. As this matter is sucked in, it releases energy in the form of intense x-ray emissions that in some cases can be more intense than the emission from all the stars in the galaxy combined.
Among the billions and billions of stars in the sky, where should astronomers look for infant Earths where life might develop? New research from Cornell University's Institute for Pale Blue Dots shows where - and when - infant Earths are most likely to be found. The paper by research associate Ramses M. Ramirez and director Lisa Kaltenegger, "The Habitable Zones of Pre-Main-Sequence Stars" will be published in the Jan. 1, 2015, issue of Astrophysical Journal Letters. Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-12-infant-earths-potential-life-easier.html#jCp
Planets orbiting close to low-mass stars — easily the most common stars in the universe — are prime targets in the search for extraterrestrial life. But new research led by an astronomy graduate student indicates some such planets may have long since lost their chance at hosting life because of intense heat during their formative years.
A team of researchers analyzing data from a telescope aboard the European Space Agency's Planck spacecraft gave a presentation at Planck 2014 recently—a meeting held in a palace in Italy—to outline findings based on data from the spacecraft and also to discuss the implications of what has been found.
Using the world's largest radio telescope, two astronomers from Swinburne University of Technology in Australia have detected the faint signal emitted by atomic hydrogen gas in galaxies three billion light years from Earth, breaking the previous record distance by 500 million light years. Their results appear in a paper published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
In that time frame, it will be possible to see almost everything in the Universe that can be seen, according to astrophysicist Associate Professor Tamara Davis of The University of Queensland.
With the help of citizen scientists, astronomers have found an important new example of a very rare type of galaxy that may provide valuable insight on galaxy evolution in the early Universe.
Did Mars ever have life? Does it still? A meteorite from Mars has reignited the old debate. New research shows that Martian life is more probable than previously thought.
Astronomers have measured the passing of a super-Earth in front of a bright, nearby Sun-like star using a ground-based telescope for the first time. The transit of the exoplanet 55 Cancri e is the shallowest detected from the ground yet. Since detecting a transit is the first step in analyzing a planet's atmosphere, this success bodes well for characterizing the many small planets that upcoming space missions are expected to discover in the next few years.
An invisible shield has been discovered some 7,200 miles above Earth that blocks so-called 'killer electrons,' which whip around the planet at near-light speed and have been known to threaten astronauts, fry satellites and degrade space systems during intense solar storms.
Scientists have developed a new way of measuring precise distances to galaxies tens of millions of light years away, using the W. M. Keck Observatory near the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii. The method is similar to what land surveyors use on Earth, by measuring the physical and angular, or ‘apparent’, size of a standard ruler in the galaxy, to calibrate the distance from this information.
With the Philae lander's mission complete, Rosetta will now continue its own extraordinary exploration, orbiting Comet 67P/Churymov-Gerasimenko during the coming year as the enigmatic body arcs ever closer to our Sun.
Incredible new images show the breathtaking journey of Rosetta's Philae lander as it approached and then rebounded from its first touchdown on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on 12 November 2014.
The sun may be playing a part in the generation of lightning strikes on Earth by temporarily 'bending' the Earth's magnetic field and allowing a shower of energetic particles to enter the upper atmosphere.
Scientists developed a new method which allows to estimate the magnetic field of a distant exoplanet, i.e., a planet, which is located outside the Solar system and orbits a different star. Moreover, they managed to estimate the value of the magnetic moment of the planet HD 209458b.
How do galaxies like our Milky Way form, and just how do they evolve? Are galaxies affected by their surrounding environment? Astronomers now propose some answers. The researchers highlight the role of the 'cosmic web' -- a large-scale web-like structure comprised of galaxies -- on the evolution of galaxies that took place in the distant universe, a few billion years after the Big Bang.
New observations with ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile have revealed alignments over the largest structures ever discovered in the Universe. A European research team has found that the rotation axes of the central supermassive black holes in a sample of quasars are parallel to each other over distances of billions of light-years. The team has also found that the rotation axes of these quasars tend to be aligned with the vast structures in the cosmic web in which they reside.
Astronomers have discovered an object in space that might be a black hole catapulted out of a galaxy. Or, according to an alternative interpretation, it might be a giant star that is exploding over an exceptionally long period of several decades. In any case, one thing is certain: This mysterious object is something quite unique, a source of fascination for physicists the world over because of its potential to provide experimental confirmation of the much-discussed gravitational waves predicted by Albert Einstein.
The most accurate laboratory measurements yet made of magnetic fields trapped in grains within a primitive meteorite are providing important clues to how the early solar system evolved. The measurements point to shock waves traveling through the cloud of dusty gas around the newborn Sun as a major factor in solar system formation.
Researchers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-ray Observatory have uncovered young, massive, compact galaxies whose raucous star-making parties are ending early. The firestorm of star birth has blasted out most of the remaining gaseous fuel needed to make future generations of stars. Now the party's over for these gas-starved galaxies, and they are on track to possibly becoming so-called "red and dead galaxies," composed only of aging stars
Astronomers from the University of Toronto and the University of Arizona have provided the first direct evidence that an intergalactic "wind" is stripping galaxies of star-forming gas as they fall into clusters of galaxies. The observations help explain why galaxies found in clusters are known to have relatively little gas and less star formation when compared to non-cluster or "field" galaxies.
Astronomers have provided the first direct evidence that an intergalactic 'wind' is stripping galaxies of star-forming gas as they fall into clusters of galaxies. The observations help explain why galaxies found in clusters are known to have relatively little gas and less star formation when compared to non-cluster or 'field' galaxies.
Organic matter recently detected by NASA's robotic rover Curiosity is probably not due to contamination brought from Earth as researchers originally thought. A team of German and British scientists led by geoscientist Prof. Dr. Frank Keppler from Heidelberg University now suggests that the gaseous chlorinated organic compound -- chloromethane -- recently found on the Red Planet most likely comes from the soil of Mars, with its carbon and hydrogen probably deriving from meteorites that fell on the planet's surface. This assumption is supported by isotope measurements made by the scientists in which they replicated some of the Mars lander experiments. In these investigations, samples from a 4.6 billion old meteorite that fell in Australia in 1969 were used. Results from this study have been published in Scientific Reports.
Weather, which changes day-to-day due to constant fluctuations in the atmosphere, and climate, which varies over decades, are familiar. More recently, a third regime called "macroweather," has been used to describe the relatively stable regime between weather and climate.
Long believed to be one of the blandest regions of any of the giant gas planets, the southern hemisphere of Uranus indicates a flurry of previously unknown atmospheric phenomena, hinting at an unusual feature in the interior of the planet.
A team of Cardiff University researchers have made a breakthrough in helping scientists discover hundreds of black holes throughout the universe.
The giant black hole at the center of the Milky Way may be producing mysterious particles called neutrinos. If confirmed, this would be the first time that scientists have traced neutrinos back to a black hole.
Researchers have made a breakthrough in helping scientists discover hundreds of black holes throughout the universe. When two detectors are switched on in the US next year, scientists hope to pick up the faint ripples of black hole collisions millions of years ago, known as gravitational waves. Black holes cannot be seen, but scientists hope the revamped detectors -- which act like giant microphones -- will find remnants of black hole collisions.
Scientists at the University of Arizona have discovered what might be the closest thing to "baby photos" of our solar system. A young star called HD 95086 is found to have two dust belts, analogous to the asteroid and Kuiper belts in the Solar System, surrounded by a large dust halo that only young planetary systems have
A team of researchers led by Michele Fumagalli from the Extragalactic Astronomy Group and the Institute for Computational Cosmology at Durham University, were among the first to use ESO's Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) instrument on the VLT. Observing ESO 137-001—a spiral galaxy 200 million light-years away in the southern constellation of Triangulum Australe (The Southern Triangle)—they were able to get the best view so far of exactly what is happening to the galaxy as it hurtles into the Norma Cluster.
A very large team of astronomers and astrophysics from a wide variety of countries has contributed to a research paper published in the journal Science, describing observations made of a black hole at the center of the IC 310 galaxy—a black hole that was observed with a flickering jet that didn't conform to existing theories. The team offers possible explanations for the unique type of flickering observed and suggests more research will need to be done before any real conclusions can be drawn.
A NASA sounding rocket experiment has detected a surprising surplus of infrared light in the dark space between galaxies, a diffuse cosmic glow as bright as all known galaxies combined. The glow is thought to be from orphaned stars flung out of galaxies
Astronomers working to estimate the rate of star formation inside murky distant galaxies, those shrouded in dust clouds that make it very difficult to study them, have published data from a brand new instrument, providing the most precise picture yet of what happened 4 billion years ago at their hidden centers.
The mystery about a thin, bizarre object in the center of the Milky Way that some astronomers believe to be a hydrogen gas cloud headed toward our galaxy's enormous black hole has been solved by astronomers.
Supermassive black holes containing millions or even billions of solar-masses of material are found at the nuclei of galaxies. Our Milky Way, for example, has a nucleus with a black hole with about four million solar masses of material. Around the black hole, according to theories, is a torus of dust and gas, and when material falls toward the black hole (a process called accretion) the inner edge of the disk can be heated to millions of degrees. Such accretion heating can power dramatic phenomena like bipolar jets of rapidly moving charged particles. Such actively accreting supermassive black holes in galaxies are called active galactic nuclei (AGN).
By using the full power of the Very Large Telescope Interferometer an international team of astronomers has discovered exozodiacal light close to the habitable zones around nine nearby stars. This light is starlight reflected from dust created as the result of collisions between asteroids, and the evaporation of comets. The presence of such large amounts of dust in the inner regions around some stars may pose an obstacle to the direct imaging of Earth-like planets.
As it soared past Saturn's large moon Titan recently, NASA's Cassini spacecraft caught a glimpse of bright sunlight reflecting off hydrocarbon seas
Astronomers have long sought to understand exactly how the universe evolved from its earliest history to the cosmos we see around us in the present day. In particular, the way that galaxies form and develop is still a matter for debate. Now a group of researchers have used the collective efforts of the hundreds of thousands of people that volunteer for the Galaxy Zoo project to shed some light on this problem. They find that galaxies may have settled into their current form some two billion years earlier than previously thought.
For years, astronomers have been puzzled by a bizarre object in the center of the Milky Way that was believed to be a hydrogen gas cloud headed toward our galaxy's enormous black hole.
Assistant Professor of Astronomy Evan Kirby arrived on campus in August. Born and raised in New Orleans, Kirby earned his BS in 2004 from Stanford University; his undergraduate thesis involved trips to Pasadena to test an instrument built by JPL's Jamie Bock, now also a Caltech professor of physics, and the late Andrew Lange, the Marvin L. Goldberger Professor of Physics at Caltech. Kirby earned his MS and PhD degrees from UC Santa Cruz in 2006 and 2009. His PhD thesis involved an analysis of the spectra of bright stars in dwarf galaxies orbiting the Milky Way. Then as a Caltech postdoc and Hubble Fellow from 2009 to 2012, he moved on to more distant stars in Andromeda and its satellite galaxies. As a Center for Galaxy Evolution Fellow at UC Irvine from 2012 to 2014, he shifted the focus of his spectral analyses from chemical makeups to stellar motions. Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-11-physics-galaxies.html#jCp
New research offers a novel insight into the nature of dark matter and dark energy and what the future of our Universe might be. Scientists have found hints that dark matter, the cosmic scaffolding on which our Universe is built, is being slowly erased, swallowed up by dark energy.
For their latest discovery, astronomers have found a low-mass, low-density planet with a punctuality problem. The new planet, called PH3c, is located 2,300 light years from Earth and has an atmosphere loaded with hydrogen and helium. Its inconsistency kept it from being picked up by automated computer algorithms that search stellar light curves and identify regular dips caused by objects passing in front of stars.
When astronomers (Bond 2013) first dated the star HD 140283, which lies a mere 190 lightyears from Earth in the constellation of Libra, they were puzzled. This rare, star appeared to be rather ancient and was quickly nicknamed the Methuselah star. It is a metal-poor sub-giant with an apparent magnitude of 7.223. The star had been known for a century or so as a high-velocity star, but its presence in our solar neighborhood and its composition were at odds with theory. Moreover, HD140283 wasn't just an oddity from at the dawn of the Universe, formed short time after the Big Bang. Rather, it seems to be some 14.46 billion years old… which makes it older than the Universe itself, currently estimated to be 13.817 billion years old (estimated from the cosmic microwave background radiation).
For the first time astronomers, including SRON astronomer Woojin Kwon, have been able to capture the magnetic field in the accretion disk around a young star. The shape of the field was a big surprise. The discovery suggests that magnetic fields play an important role in forming a planetary system like our own, but that the process is more complicated than our current understanding. The research results have been published in this week's issue of Nature.
I sat straight up in my seat when I learned of the discovery of a possible new supernova in the bright Virgo galaxy M61. Since bright usually means close, this newly exploding star may soon become visible in smaller telescopes. It was discovered at magnitude +13.6 on October 29th by Koichi Itagaki of Japan, a prolific hunter of supernovae with 94 discoveries or co-discoveries to his credit. Itagaki used a CCD camera and 19.6-inch (0.50-m) reflector to spy the new star within one of the galaxy's prominent spiral arms. Comparison with earlier photos showed no star at the position. Itagaki also nabbed an earlier supernova in M61 in December 2008.
A team of astronomers have observed a distant gravitationally-lensed quasar (i.e., an active galactic nucleus) with the Subaru Telescope and concluded that the data indeed present a 3-D view of the structure around a quasar. Although the team had earlier suggested this as a possibility, the final conclusion was drawn only through additional observations
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has picked up the faint, ghostly glow of stars ejected from ancient galaxies that were gravitationally ripped apart several billion years ago. The mayhem happened 4 billion light-years away, inside an immense collection of nearly 500 galaxies nicknamed "Pandora's Cluster," also known as Abell 2744.
Astronomers have long sought to understand exactly how the universe evolved from its earliest history to the cosmos we see around us in the present day. In particular, the way that galaxies form and develop is still a matter for debate. Now a group of researchers have used the collective efforts of the hundreds of thousands of people that volunteer for the Galaxy Zoo project to shed some light on this problem. They find that galaxies may have settled into their current form some two billion years earlier than previously thought.
A planetary atmosphere is a delicate thing. On Earth, we are familiar with the ozone hole—a tear in our upper atmosphere caused by human-created chemicals that thin away the ozone. Threats to an atmosphere, however, can also come from natural causes.
The new planet, called PH3c, is located 2,300 light years from Earth and has an atmosphere loaded with hydrogen and helium. It is described in the Oct. 29 online edition of The Astrophysical Journal.
Scientists using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have detected a streamer of dust and gas flowing from a massive outer disk toward the inner reaches of a binary star system. This never-before-seen feature may be responsible for sustaining a second, smaller disk of planet-forming material that otherwise would have disappeared long ago.
Astronomy & Astrophysics is publishing a special feature of 31 articles describing the data gathered by Planck over 15 months of observations and released by ESA and the Planck Collaboration in March 2013. This series of papers presents the initial scientific results extracted from this first Planck dataset.
Aeons ago, the universe was different: mergers of galaxies were common and gigantic black holes with masses equivalent to billions of times that of the Sun formed in their nuclei. As they captured the surrounding gas, these black holes emitted energy. Known as quasars, these very distant and tremendously high energy objects have local relatives with much lower energy whose existence raises numerous questions: are there also such "quiet" quasars at much larger distances? Are the latter dying versions of the former or are they completely different?
An international team of astronomers under the guidance of graduate student Leah Morabito of Leiden Observatory has for the first time discovered the largest carbon atoms outside our Milky Way with the LOFAR radio telescope. In the future astronomers will be able to measure how cold and dense the gas around these atoms is that influences star formation and the evolution of a galaxy. The results are published in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters on October 28th.
The same phenomenon that causes a bumpy airplane ride, turbulence, may be the solution to a long-standing mystery about stars' birth, or the absence of it, according to a new study using data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory.
A newly found pulsar, the brightest ever seen, raises questions about a mysterious category of cosmic objects called ultraluminous X-ray sources. A member of the team that announced the discovery now discusses the likelihood of additional ultra-bright pulsars and considers how astrophysicists will align this new find with their understanding of how pulsars work.
A new study could provide insights about the abundance of water in fragments from a famous asteroid.
The observations produced the first images of a nova during the early fireball stage and revealed how the structure of the ejected material evolves as the gas expands and cools. It appears the expansion is more complicated than simple models previously predicted, scientists said. The results of these observations, carried out by 37 researchers from 17 institutions and led by Georgia State astronomer Gail Schaefer, are published in the current issue of Nature.
It might look like a spoked wheel or even a "Chakram" weapon wielded by warriors like "Xena," from the fictional TV show, but this ringed galaxy is actually a vast place of stellar life. A newly released image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows the galaxy NGC 1291. Though the galaxy is quite old, roughly 12 billion years, it is marked by an unusual ring where newborn stars are igniting.
We may think of black holes as swallowing entire stars—or any other object that wanders too close to their immense gravity. But sometimes, a star that is almost captured by a black hole escapes with only a portion of its mass torn off. Such was the case for a star some 650 million light years away toward Ursa Major, the constellation that contains the "Big Dipper," where a supermassive black hole tore off a chunk of material from a star that got away
Scientists at the Universities of Bonn and Cardiff see good times approaching for astrophysicists after hatching a new observational strategy to distill detailed information from galaxies at the edge of the Universe. Using two world-class supercomputers, the researchers were able to demonstrate the effectiveness of their approach by simulating the formation of a massive galaxy at the dawn of cosmic time. The ALMA radio telescope – which stands at an elevation of 5,000 meters in the Atacama Desert of Chile, one of the driest places on earth – was then used to forge observations of the galaxy, showing how their method improves upon previous efforts.
The research provides crucial new evidence that it is these jets of "radio-frequency feedback" streaming from mature galaxies' central black holes that prevent hot free gas from cooling and collapsing into baby stars.
Almost 2,000 extrasolar planets have been discovered to date and this number is constantly increasing. Yet, we still know little about these alien worlds, especially their atmospheres. The atmospheres of terrestrial exoplanets could betray the presence of life on the planet, sparking NASA's interest in acquiring the spectra that appears as starlight shines through these planetary atmospheres.
In recent years, astronomers have discovered that our universe is rich with other planets. More than 1,700 other worlds have so far been discovered, and new planets and new insight into planets continue to make headlines almost every week.
Beta Pictoris is a young star located about 63 light-years from the Sun. It is only about 20 million years old and is surrounded by a huge disc of material—a very active young planetary system where gas and dust are produced by the evaporation of comets and the collisions of asteroids
Peering through a giant cosmic magnifying glass, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has spotted one of the farthest, faintest, and smallest galaxies ever seen. The diminutive object is estimated to be over 13 billion light-years away.
NASA's Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) has provided scientists with five new findings into how the sun's atmosphere, or corona, is heated far hotter than its surface, what causes the sun's constant outflow of particles called the solar wind, and what mechanisms accelerate particles that power solar flares.
Galaxy clusters are the largest objects in the Universe held together by gravity but their formation is not well understood. The Spiderweb Galaxy (formally known as MRC 1138-262 ) and its surroundings have been studied for twenty years, using ESO and other telescopes , and is thought to be one of the best examples of a protocluster in the process of assembly, more than ten billion years ago.
Peering out to the dim, outer reaches of our solar system, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has uncovered three Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs) the agency's New Horizons spacecraft could potentially visit after it flies by Pluto in July 2015.
An international team of scientists has succeeded in explaining the formation and propagation over astronomical distances of jets of matter emitted by young stars—one of the most fascinating mysteries of modern astronomy. Using a patented experimental device and large-scale numerical simulations, the team obtained data consistent with astrophysical observations. The results of this research—just published in the prestigious journal Science—open up new opportunities for studying the role of magnetic fields in astrophysics and thermonuclear fusion. Bruno Albertazzi, a doctoral student in the energy and materials sciences program at INRS (in co-supervision with Ecole Polytechnique en France), is the primary author.
A group of researchers led by Melina Bersten of Kavli IPMU recently presented a model that provides the first characterization of the progenitor for a hydrogen-deficient supernova. Their model predicts that a bright hot star, which is the binary companion to an exploding object, remains after the explosion. To verify their theory, the group secured observation time with the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) to search for such a remaining star. Their findings, which are reported in the October 2014 issue of The Astronomical Journal, have important implications for the evolution of massive stars.
A team led by astronomers from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy has created the first three-dimensional map of the 'adolescent' Universe, just 3 billion years after the Big Bang. This map, built from data collected from the W. M. Keck Observatory, is millions of light-years across and provides a tantalizing glimpse of large structures in the 'cosmic web' – the backbone of cosmic structure.
What makes one rose bush blossom with flowers, while another remains barren? Astronomers ask a similar question of galaxies, wondering how some flourish with star formation and others barely bloom.
"If you have a coin and flip it just once, what does that tell you about the odds of heads versus tails?" asks Heather Knutson, assistant professor of planetary science at Caltech. "It tells you almost nothing. It's the same with planetary systems," she says.
Our view of other solar systems just got a little more familiar, with the discovery of a planet 25,000 light-years away that resembles our own Uranus.
Scientists believe they have found a way to explain why there are not as many galaxies orbiting the Milky Way as expected. Computer simulations of the formation of our galaxy suggest that there should be many more small galaxies around the Milky Way than are observed through telescopes. This has thrown doubt on the generally accepted theory of cold dark matter, an invisible and mysterious substance that scientists predict should allow for more galaxy formation around the Milky Way than is seen. Now cosmologists think they have found a potential solution to the problem.
For decades scientists have believed that galaxy mergers usually result in the formation of elliptical galaxies. Now, for the the first time, researchers have found direct evidence that merging galaxies can instead form disc galaxies, and that this outcome is in fact quite common. This surprising result could explain why there are so many spiral galaxies like the Milky Way in the Universe.
Scientists have shown how gravitational waves -- invisible ripples in the fabric of space and time that propagate through the universe -- might be 'seen' by looking at the stars. The new model proposes that a star that oscillates at the same frequency as a gravitational wave will absorb energy from that wave and brighten, an overlooked prediction of Einstein's 1916 theory of general relativity. The study contradicts previous assumptions about the behavior of gravitational waves.
Hunting from a distance of 27,000 light years, astronomers have discovered an unusual carbon-based molecule contained within a giant gas cloud in interstellar space. The discovery suggests that the complex molecules needed for life may have their origins in interstellar space.
Astronomers Chih-Hao Li and David Phillips of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics want to rediscover Venus—that familiar, nearby planet stargazers can see with the naked eye much of the year.
Clusters of galaxies have back-stories worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster: their existences are marked by violence, death and birth, arising after extragalactic pile-ups where groups of galaxies crashed into each other.
A new measurement of dark matter in the Milky Way has revealed there is half as much of the mysterious substance as previously thought.
A team of scientists using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has made the most detailed global map yet of the glow from a planet orbiting another star, revealing secrets of air temperatures and water.
An international team of astronomers has been able to see into the heart of an exploding star, by combining data from telescopes that are hundreds or even thousands of kilometres apart. Their results are published in the journal Nature.
Astronomers have discovered a black hole that is consuming gas from a nearby star 10 times faster than previously thought possible.
A cosmic string is a very long (possibly as long as the diameter of the visible universe), very thin (less than the width of a proton) high-density object formed during the early moments of the big bang. You can see a rendering of such a string in the image above. There is a reason why it appears next to the starship Enterprise. Both of them are science fiction
A pair of astronomers with the University of California has demonstrated via computer simulation that the reason some hot or warm Jupiter exoplanets orbit their star so closely is because they are pulled there by another planet. In their paper published in the journal Science, Rebekah Dawson and Eugene Chiang describe their simulations and what their observations revealed.
The first clue comes from a derivation by Arthur Eddington. In 1916, Eddington demonstrated that there was a limit to how bright a stable star could be. The basic idea is that the atmosphere of a star is being gravitationally attracted by the mass of the star (giving it weight), and this weight is balanced by the pressure of the deeper layer of the star. For a star to be stable, the weight and pressure must be equal, so the star doesn't collapse inward or push the atmosphere outward.
The supermassive black hole in the center of our galaxy, known as Sagittarius A*, is pretty quiet for a black hole. It does however flare up from time to time, when material is captured, as can be seen in images from the NuSTAR x-ray telescope. Of course, x-ray astronomy with enough sensitivity to observe x-ray flares at galactic center is a fairly recent development. It would be nice to have a range of data spanning decades, or even centuries.
The image above shows two supermassive black holes orbiting each other. It is a composite image where the blue/white indicates x-rays and the pink indicates radio wavelengths. It may look like they are orbiting closely, but the black holes are about 25,000 light years apart, which is about the same distance the Sun is from the center of the Milky Way.
Pluto has been a headache for astronomers trying to define what a planet is, ever since it was found in 1930. Now with a flood of discovery of Earth-like planets outside our solar system, debate has intensified over the definition of a planet.
Polish astronomers from the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE) have discovered a young stellar bridge, that forms a continuous connection between the Magellanic Clouds. This finding is based on number density maps for stellar populations found in data gathered by OGLE.
Hunting from a distance of 27,000 light years, astronomers have discovered an unusual carbon-based molecule -- one with a branched structure -- contained within a giant gas cloud in interstellar space. Like finding a molecular needle in a cosmic haystack, astronomers have detected radio waves emitted by isopropyl cyanide. The discovery suggests that the complex molecules needed for life may have their origins in interstellar space.
Most known extra-solar planets orbit stars that are alone, like our Sun. Yet many stars are part of binary systems, twin stars formed from the same gas cloud. Now, for the first time, two stars of a binary system are both found to host a "hot Jupiter'' exoplanet.
For decades, planetary geologists have speculated that glaciers might once have crept through Valles Marineris, the 2000-mile-long chasm that constitutes the Grand Canyon of Mars. Using satellite images, researchers have identified features that might have been carved by past glaciers as they flowed through the canyons; however, these observations have remained highly controversial and contested.
NASA's newest Mars rover has found a geological oddity: a nicely shaped sphere lying on the rocky surface of the Red Planet. The rock ball was photographed on Sept. 11 while the U.S. space agency's Curiosity rover was exploring a region of Mars known as the Gale Crater.
Over billions of years, the southern uplands of Mars have been pockmarked by numerous impact features, which are often so closely packed that they overlap. One such feature is Hooke crater, shown in this frost-tinged scene, imaged by ESA's Mars Express during winter in the southern hemisphere.
One of the big questions in cosmology regards the shape of the universe. "Shape" in this case is not the distribution of galaxies, but rather the shape of space and time itself. In general relativity, space and time can be warped by masses (producing the effect of gravity), and it can be warped by dark energy (producing cosmic expansion). Knowing the shape of the cosmos lets us determine if it is finite in size or infinite, and whether it will expand forever or collapse back upon itself.
In March, scientists working on the BICEP2 experiment, a microwave telescope based at the South Pole, announced that they had seen 'gravity waves' from the early universe, created just after the Big Bang. Ever since the announcement, the cosmological community has been excitedly debating the implications of their detection.
A team of French-American researchers led by the UTINAM Institute (CNRS/Université de Franche-Comté) has just proposed a solution to the problematic chemical composition of Uranus and Neptune, thus providing clues for understanding their formation. The researchers focused on the positioning of these two outermost planets of the Solar System, and propose a new model explaining how and where they formed. Their results have been published in The Astrophysical Journal on September 20.
For decades scientists have believed that galaxy mergers usually result in the formation of elliptical galaxies. Now, for the the first time, researchers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/sub-millimeter Array and a host of other radio telescopes have found direct evidence that merging galaxies can instead form disc galaxies, and that this outcome is in fact quite common. This surprising result could explain why there are so many spiral galaxies like the Milky Way in the Universe. Read more at: http://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.fr/2014/09/violent-origins-of-disc-galaxies-probed.html#.VCE0nxYrOpM Follow us: @ArchaeoNewsNet on Twitter | groups/thearchaeologynewsnetwork/ on Facebook
Massive galaxies in the Universe have stopped making their own stars and are instead snacking on nearby galaxies, according to research by Australian scientists. Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-09-monster-galaxies-gain-weight-smaller.html#jCp
A new catalogue of the visible part of the northern part of our home Galaxy, the Milky Way, includes no fewer than 219 million stars. Geert Barentsen of the University of Hertfordshire led a team who assembled the catalogue in a ten year programme using the Isaac Newton Telescope (INT) on La Palma in the Canary Islands. Their work appears today in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. Read more at: http://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.fr/2014/09/219-million-stars-detailed-catalogue-of.html#.VBvq2BYrOpM Follow us: @ArchaeoNewsNet on Twitter | groups/thearchaeologynewsnetwork/ on Facebook
When the most massive stars explode as supernovas, they don't fade into the night, but sometimes glow ferociously with high-energy gamma rays. What powers these energetic stellar remains? Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-09-pulse-dead-star-powers-intense.html#jCp
NASA's Mars Curiosity rover has reached the Red Planet's Mount Sharp, a Mount-Rainier-size mountain at the center of the vast Gale Crater and the rover mission's long-term prime destination. Read more at: http://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.fr/2014/09/mars-curiosity-rover-arrives-at-martian.html#.VBhCKBYrOpM Follow us: @ArchaeoNewsNet on Twitter | groups/thearchaeologynewsnetwork/ on Facebook
Underscoring the vast differences between Earth and its neighbor Venus, new research shows a glimpse of giant holes in the electrically charged layer of the Venusian atmosphere, called the ionosphere. The observations point to a more complicated magnetic environment than previously thought -- which in turn helps us better understand this neighboring, rocky planet. Read more at: http://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.fr/2014/09/nasa-research-helps-unravel-mysteries.html#.VBhCoRYrOpM Follow us: @ArchaeoNewsNet on Twitter | groups/thearchaeologynewsnetwork/ on Facebook
A tiny fragment of Martian meteorite 1.3 billion years old is helping to make the case for the possibility of life on Mars, say scientists. Read more at: http://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.fr/2014/09/meteorite-yields-more-evidence-of.html#.VBhtAxYrOpM Follow us: @ArchaeoNewsNet on Twitter | groups/thearchaeologynewsnetwork/ on Facebook
Mercury has an oddball orbit—it takes longer for it to rotate on its axis and complete a day than it takes to orbit the sun and complete a year. Now, researchers suggest photosynthesis could take place on an alien planet with a similarly bizarre orbit, potentially helping support complex life. Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-09-planets-oddball-orbits-mercury-host.html#jCp
According to legend, when Damocles declared that his king, Dionysius, must have a posh and easy life, Dionysius offered to trade places with Damocles. There was only one catch. Dionysius decreed that a sword be suspended over the throne by a single horse hair, so that Damocles would always know the peril of being king. Since then the Sword of Damocles has come to represent a threat of doom that could strike without warning. While the prospect of living under a hanging sword doesn't seem pleasant, stories of impending doom are quite popular, particularly within popular science. Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-09-universe-stable-quantum.html#jCp
In the 1800s scientists studying things like heat and the behavior of low density gases developed a theory known as thermodynamics. As the name suggests, this theory describes the dynamic behavior of heat (or more generally energy). The core of thermodynamics is embodied by its four basic laws. Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-09-black-hole-thermodynamics.html#jCp
We have a pretty good idea of how planets form around stars. We know that dust is formed from the remnants of supernovae, that protoplanetary disks of dust form around young stars, and that dust grains can clump together to form pebbles. We also know how larger planetoids can drive the formation of planets, and how planets can migrate from their point of origin to their stable orbits. But there are still gaps in our understanding. Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-09-planets.html#jCp
According to general relativity, a black hole has three measurable properties: mass, rotation (angular momentum), and charge. That's it. If you know those three things, you know all there is to know about the black hole. If the black hole is interacting with other objects, then the interactions can be much more complicated, but an isolated black hole is just mass, rotation and charge. Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-09-proof-no-hair-theorem.html#jCp
There's news this week of an "impossible" triple star system recently discovered by astronomers. One that "defies known physics." Needless to say, there's no need to abandon physics quite yet. Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-09-impossible-triple-star-kic.html#jCp
A mysterious boom heard overnight in Nicaragua's capital Managua was made by a small meteorite that left a crater in a wooded area near the city's airport, Nicaragua's government said Sunday. Government spokeswoman Rosario Murillo said a committee formed by the government to study the event determined it was a "relatively small" meteorite that "appears to have come off an asteroid that was passing close to Earth."
When we look at the Solar System, what clues show us how it formed? We can see pieces of its formation in asteroids, comets and other small bodies that cluster on the fringes of our neighborhood (and sometimes, fly closer to Earth.) Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-09-solar-simulation-reveals-planetary-mystery.html#jCp
Astronomers using the National Science Foundation's Green Bank Telescope (GBT) -- among other telescopes -- have determined that our own Milky Way galaxy is part of a newly identified ginormous supercluster of galaxies, which they have dubbed "Laniakea," which means "immense heaven" in Hawaiian. Read more at: http://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.fr/2014/09/newly-identified-galactic-supercluster.html#.VArpARYrOpM Follow us: @ArchaeoNewsNet on Twitter | groups/thearchaeologynewsnetwork/ on Facebook
Astronomers using the Green Bank Telescope -- among other telescopes -- have determined that our own Milky Way galaxy is part of a newly identified ginormous supercluster of galaxies, which they have dubbed 'Laniakea,' which means 'immense heaven' in Hawaiian.
Surrounded by bright stars, towards the upper middle of the frame we see a small young stellar object (YSO) known as SSTC2D J033038.2+303212. Located in the constellation of Perseus, this star is in the early stages of its life and is still forming into a fully-grown star. In this view from Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys(ACS) it appears to have a murky chimney of material emanating outwards and downwards, framed by bright bursts of gas flowing from the star itself. Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-09-image-hubble-dark-universe.html#jCp
New research from UCL shows we will soon uncover the origin of the ultraviolet light that bathes the cosmos, helping scientists understand how galaxies were built. Read more at: http://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.fr/2014/08/what-lit-up-universe.html#.VAH1DWMrOpM Follow us: @ArchaeoNewsNet on Twitter | groups/thearchaeologynewsnetwork/ on Facebook
The supernova, a giant explosion of a star and the closest one to the Earth in decades, was discovered earlier this year by chance at the University of London Observatory. These phenomena are extremely important to study because they provide key information about our universe, including how it is expanding and how galaxies evolve. Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-08-spectacular-supernova-mysteries-revealed.html#jCp
Astronomers are delving into the mystery of what caused a spectacular supernova in a galaxy 11 million light years away, seen earlier this year. The supernova, a giant explosion of a star and the closest one to the Earth in decades, was discovered earlier this year by chance. These phenomena are extremely important to study because they provide key information about our universe, including how it is expanding and how galaxies evolve.
A new image of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko shows the diversity of surface structures on the comet's nucleus. It was taken by the Rosetta spacecraft's OSIRIS narrow-angle camera on August 7, 2014. At the time, the spacecraft was 65 miles (104 kilometers) away from the 2.5-mile-wide (4-kilometer) nucleus.
An international team of sky scholars has produced new maps of the material located between the stars in the Milky Way. The results should move astronomers closer to cracking a stardust puzzle that has vexed them for nearly a century.
After a decade-long journey chasing its target, ESA's Rosetta has today become the first spacecraft to rendezvous with a comet, opening a new chapter in Solar System exploration. Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and Rosetta now lie 405 million kilometres from Earth, about half way between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars, rushing towards the inner Solar System at nearly 55,000 kilometres per hour.
Astronomers have unexpectedly discovered the most distant galaxy that acts as a cosmic magnifying glass. Seen in a new image as it looked 9.6 billion years ago, this monster elliptical galaxy breaks the previous record holder by 200 million years.
The shape of the moon deviates from a simple sphere in ways that scientists have struggled to explain. A new study shows that most of the moon's overall shape can be explained by taking into account tidal effects acting early in the moon's history. The results provide insights into the moon's early history, its orbital evolution, and its current orientation in the sky.
Does the Milky Way look fat in this picture? Has Andromeda been taking skinny selfies? Using a new, more accurate method for measuring the mass of galaxies, and international group of researchers has shown that the Milky Way has half the Mass of the Andromeda Galaxy.
A recent study shows that the emission is dominated by the local hot bubble of gas -- 1 million degrees -- with, at most, 40 percent of emission originating within the solar system. The findings should put to rest the disagreement about the origin of the X-ray emission and confirm the existence of the local hot bubble.
Astronomers have mapped the mass within a galaxy cluster more precisely than ever before. Created using observations from Hubble's Frontier Fields observing program, the map shows the amount and distribution of mass within MCS J0416.1-2403, a massive galaxy cluster found to be 160 trillion times the mass of the Sun.
In 2012, the Voyager mission team announced that the Voyager 1 spacecraft had passed into interstellar space, traveling further from Earth than any other humanmade object. But, in the nearly two years since that historic announcement, and despite subsequent observations backing it up, uncertainty about whether Voyager 1 really crossed the threshold continues.
Astronomers have probed the extreme outskirts of the stunning elliptical galaxy Centaurus A. The galaxy's halo of stars has been found to extend much further from the galaxy's center than expected and the stars within this halo seem to be surprisingly rich in heavy elements. This is the most remote portion of an elliptical galaxy ever to have been explored.
The discovery that many small galaxies throughout the universe do not 'swarm' around larger ones like bees do but 'dance' in orderly disc-shaped orbits is a challenge to our understanding of how the universe formed and evolved. The researchers believe the answer may be hidden in some currently unknown physical process that governs how gas flows in the universe, although, as yet, there is no obvious mechanism that can guide dwarf galaxies into narrow planes.
As the European Space Agency's spacecraft Rosetta is slowly approaching its destination, comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the comet is again proving to be full of surprises. New images obtained by OSIRIS, the onboard scientific imaging system, confirm the body's peculiar shape hinted at in earlier pictures. Comet 67P is obviously different from other comets visited so far.
There are billions of stars and planets in the universe. The planets are formed in dust clouds that swirled around a newly formed star. But where does the cosmic dust come from? New research shows that not only can grains of dust form in gigantic supernova explosions, they can also survive the subsequent shockwaves they are exposed to.
NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft has experienced a new "tsunami wave" from the sun as it sails through interstellar space. Such waves are what led scientists to the conclusion, in the fall of 2013, that Voyager had indeed left our sun's bubble, entering a new frontier.
The European Space Agency (ESA) has selected the Athena X-ray Observatory as its second 'Large-class' science mission in the 21st Century, which will help answer vital questions about the universe.
Astronomers using ESA and NASA high-energy observatories have discovered a tantalizing clue that hints at an elusive ingredient of our Universe: dark matter. Astronomers believe that dark matter is the dominant type of matter in the Universe -- yet it remains obscure. Now a hint may have been found by studying galaxy clusters, the largest cosmic assemblies of matter bound together by gravity.
The first images taken by the Dark Energy Survey (DES) after the survey began in August 2013 have revealed a rare, ‘superluminous’ supernova that erupted in a galaxy 7.8 billion light years away. The stellar explosion, called DES13S2cmm, easily outshines most galaxies in the Universe and could still be seen in the data six months later, at the end of the first of what will be five years of observing by DES.
Astronomers have created a detailed three-dimensional map of the dusty structure of the Milky Way – the star-studded bright disc of our own galaxy – as seen from Earth’s northern hemisphere.
There are some 100 million other places in the Milky Way galaxy that could support complex life, according to new research by astronomers.
Dwarf galaxies that orbit the Milky Way and the Andromeda galaxies defy the accepted model of galaxy formation, and recent attempts to wedge them into the model are flawed, reports an international team of astrophysicists.
Like a bullet wrapped in a full metal jacket, a high-velocity hydrogen cloud hurtling toward the Milky Way appears to be encased in a shell of dark matter, according to a new analysis. Astronomers believe that without this protective shell, the high-velocity cloud known as the Smith Cloud would have disintegrated long ago when it first collided with the disk of our Galaxy.
Astrophysicists have released an unprecedented map of the entire sky that charts the magnetic field shaping our Milky Way Galaxy. The map reveals magnetic field lines running parallel to the plane of the Galaxy, as well as great loops and whorls associated with nearby clouds of gas and dust.
For the first time an international team of astronomers has measured circular polarization in the bright flash of light from a dying star collapsing to a black hole, giving insight into an event that happened almost 11 billion years ago.
New Herschel results have given us a remarkable insight into the internal dynamics of two young galaxies. Surprisingly, they have shown that just a few billion years after the Big Bang, some galaxies were rotating in a mature way, seemingly having completed the accumulation of their gas reservoirs.
A new study suggests the search for life on planets outside our solar system may be more difficult than previously thought. The study finds the method used to detect biosignatures on such planets, known as exoplanets, can produce a false positive result.
Astronomers have taken unprecedented images of the intergalactic medium -- the diffuse gas that connects galaxies throughout the universe -- with the Cosmic Web Imager. Until now, the structure of the IGM has mostly been a matter for theoretical speculation. However, with observations from the Cosmic Web Imager, deployed on the Hale 200-inch telescope at Palomar Observatory, astronomers are obtaining our first three-dimensional pictures of the IGM.
The first Earth-sized exoplanet orbiting within the habitable zone of another star has been confirmed by observations with both the W. M. Keck Observatory and the Gemini Observatory. The initial discovery, made by NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, is one of a handful of smaller planets found by Kepler and verified using large ground-based telescopes. It also confirms that Earth-sized planets do exist in the habitable zone of other stars.
Astronomers have captured an eye-catching image of planetary nebula PN A66 33 -- usually known as Abell 33. Created when an aging star blew off its outer layers, this beautiful blue bubble is, by chance, aligned with a foreground star, and bears an uncanny resemblance to a diamond engagement ring. This cosmic gem is unusually symmetric, appearing to be almost circular on the sky.
An unusual structure with a hexagonal shape surrounding Saturn's north pole was spotted on the planet for the first time thirty years ago. Nothing similar with such a regular geometry had ever been seen on any planet in the solar system. Astronomers have now been able to study and measure the phenomenon and, among other achievements, establish its rotation period. What is more, this period could be the same as that of the planet itself. Saturn is the only planet in the solar system whose rotation time remains unknown.
The surface of Mercury crackled with volcanic explosions for extended periods of the planet's history, according to a new analysis. The findings are surprising considering Mercury wasn't supposed to have explosive volcanism in the first place, and they could have implications for understanding how Mercury formed.
Astronomers have completed a benchmark study of more than 300 galaxies, producing the largest census of dust in the local Universe, the Herschel Reference Survey. Astronomers observed galaxies at far-infrared and sub-millimeter wavelengths and captured the light directly emitted by dust grains.
We live in a galaxy known as the Milky Way -- a vast conglomeration of 300 billion stars, planets whizzing around them, and clouds of gas and dust floating in between. Though it has long been known that the Milky Way and its orbiting companion Andromeda are the dominant members of a small group of galaxies, the Local Group, which is about 3 million light years across, much less was known about our immediate neighborhood in the universe. Now, a new article maps out bright galaxies within 35-million light years of the Earth, offering up an expanded picture of what lies beyond our doorstep.
Australian astronomers have shown galaxies in the vast empty regions of the universe are actually aligned into delicate strings, according to new research. Using data from the Galaxy and Mass Assembly (GAMA) survey, the astronomers found that the small number of galaxies inside these voids are arranged in a new way never seen before.
An international team of researchers has discovered the most distant examples of galaxies in the early universe that were already mature and massive. The mature galaxies were found at a record-breaking distance of 12 billion light years, seen when the universe was just 1.6 billion years old. Their existence at such an early time raises new questions about what forced them to grow up so quickly.
Scientists believed that Type Ia supernovae, the best cosmological standard candles, are similar in brightness because they suffer thermonuclear explosions when the white dwarf stars that are their progenitors reach 1.4 solar masses, the Chandrasekhar mass. Now astronomers have shown that white dwarfs exploding as Type Ia supernovae have a range of masses. Their light-curve widths are directly proportional to the mass involved in the explosion.
The closest and brightest supernova in decades, SN 2014J, brightens faster than expected for Type Ia supernovae, the exploding stars used to measure cosmic distances, according to astronomers. Another recent supernova also brightened faster than expected, suggesting that there is unsuspected new physics going on inside these exploding stars. The finding may also help physicists improve their use of these supernovae to measure cosmic distance.
Astronomers have discovered what makes some spiral galaxies fat and bulging while others are flat discs -- and it’s all about how fast they spin. The researchers found that fast-rotating spiral galaxies are flat and thin while equally sized galaxies that rotate slowly are fatter. One of the researchers said the way galaxies are formed looks a bit similar to a carousel made of an elastic disc.
In the last 20 years the search for Earth-like planets around other stars has accelerated, with the launch of missions like the Kepler space telescope. Using these and observatories on the ground, astronomers have found numerous worlds that at first sight have similarities with the Earth. A few of these are even in the ‘habitable zone’ where the temperature is just right for water to be in liquid form and so are prime targets in the search for life elsewhere in the universe. New results suggest that for some of the recently discovered super-Earths, such as Kepler-62e and -62f, being in the habitable zone is not enough to make them habitats.
New images provide the most detailed view yet of stellar nurseries within the Snake nebula. These images offer new insights into how cosmic seeds can grow into massive stars. Stretching across almost 100 light-years of space, the Snake nebula is located about 11,700 light-years from Earth in the direction of the constellation Ophiuchus.
In just over a week, Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system, will be at its highest point in the sky for many years to come. Near their closest to Earth, Jupiter and its moons will appear obvious in the sky, offering fantastic opportunities to view the giant planet through a telescope.
Astronomers see huge clouds of gas orbiting supermassive black holes at the centres of galaxies. Once thought to be a relatively uniform, fog-like ring, the accreting matter instead forms clumps dense enough to intermittently dim the intense radiation blazing forth as these enormous objects condense and consume matter.
NASA's Spitzer and Hubble Space Telescopes have spotted what might be one of the most distant galaxies known, harkening back to a time when our universe was only about 650 million years old (our universe is 13.8 billion years old). The galaxy, known as Abell2744 Y1, is about 30 times smaller than our Milky Way galaxy and is producing about 10 times more stars, as is typical for galaxies in our young universe.
A team of astronomers has discovered the oldest known star in the Universe, which formed shortly after the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago. The discovery has allowed astronomers for the first time to study the chemistry of the first stars, giving scientists a clearer idea of what the Universe was like in its infancy.
Astronomers have discovered a distant quasar illuminating a vast nebula of diffuse gas, revealing for the first time part of the network of filaments thought to connect galaxies in a cosmic web. Using the 10-meter Keck I Telescope at the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii, researchers detected a very large, luminous nebula of gas extending about 2 million light-years across intergalactic space.
Harnessing the power of both the Hubble Space Telescope and the citizen science project Galaxy Zoo, scientists from the University of Portsmouth have found that bar-shaped features in spiral galaxies accelerate the galaxy aging process.
A new study of light from quasars has provided astronomers with illuminating insights into the swirling clouds of gas that form stars and galaxies, proving that the clouds can shift and change much more quickly than previously thought.
Galaxies can be remarkably dusty places and supernovas are thought to be a primary source of that dust, especially in the early Universe. Direct evidence of a supernova's dust-making capabilities, however, has been slim and cannot account for the copious amount of dust detected in young, distant galaxies.
Astronomers affiliated with the Supernova Legacy Survey (SNLS) have discovered two of the brightest and most distant supernovae ever recorded, 10 billion light-years away and a hundred times more luminous than a normal supernova. Their findings appear in the Dec. 20 issue of the Astrophysical Journal.
First discovered in 2007, "fast radio bursts" continue to defy explanation. These cosmic chirps last for only a thousandth of a second. The characteristics of the radio pulses suggested that they came from galaxies billions of light-years away. However, new work points to a much closer origin -- flaring stars within our own galaxy.
NASA's Cassini spacecraft has obtained the highest-resolution movie yet of a unique six-sided jet stream, known as the hexagon, around Saturn's north pole.
Using the powerful eye of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, two teams of scientists have found faint signatures of water in the atmospheres of five distant planets.
The ALHAMBRA project, led by researchers from the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía and in which the University of Valencia has participated, has identified and classified more than half a million galaxies, after seven years of close observation of the universe from the Observatory of Calar Alto (CAHA, Almería) and thanks to a technique that breaks the stars energy in their colours through astronomical filters.
Researchers now have stronger evidence of granite on Mars and a new theory for how the granite -- an igneous rock common on Earth -- could have formed there, according to a new study. The findings suggest a much more geologically complex Mars than previously believed.
Jupiter's Great Red Spot is one of the solar system's most mysterious landmarks. Based on what scientists understand about fluid dynamics, this massive storm -- which is big enough to engulf Earth two or three times over -- should have disappeared centuries ago.
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has revealed the first visual evidence of how our home galaxy, the Milky Way, assembled itself into the majestic pinwheel of stars we see today.
NASA has released a natural-color image of Saturn from space, the first in which Saturn, its moons and rings, and Earth, Venus and Mars, all are visible.
Researchers from Europe and the USA have ruled out a multitude of possible parameters for dark photons -- a type of dark matter and energy -- with the help of white dwarfs. In some aspects, the shining of these dying stars gives more information on dark forces than is provided by earth-based laboratories.
NASA's Kepler space telescope, now crippled and its four-year mission at an end, nevertheless provided enough data to answer its main research question: How many of the 200 billion stars in our galaxy have potentially habitable planets?
Astronomers at The Ohio State University have calculated the odds that, sometime during the next 50 years, a supernova occurring in our home galaxy will be visible from Earth.
With the sun now shining down over the north pole of Saturn's moon Titan, a little luck with the weather, and trajectories that put the spacecraft into optimal viewing positions, NASA's Cassini spacecraft has obtained new pictures of the liquid methane and ethane seas and lakes that reside near Titan's north pole. The images reveal new clues about how the lakes formed and about Titan's Earth-like "hydrologic" cycle, which involves hydrocarbons rather than water.
University of California, Riverside astronomers Bahram Mobasher and Naveen Reddy are members of a team that has discovered the most distant galaxy ever found. The galaxy is seen as it was just 700 million years after the Big Bang, when the universe was only about 5 percent of its current age of 13.8 billion years.
Astronomers at Queen's University Belfast have shed new light on the rarest and brightest exploding stars ever discovered in the universe.
"We have never before seen an object free-floating in space that that looks like this. It has all the characteristics of young planets found around other stars, but it is drifting out there all alone," explained team leader Dr. Michael Liu of the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. "I had often wondered if such solitary objects exist, and now we know they do."
The radiation field at the centre of the Milky Way must be 1,000 times stronger than in the area surrounding our sun. Astrophysicists of the "Milky Way Galaxy" Collaborative Research Centre of Heidelberg University used computer simulations to reach this conclusion.
Imagine the distance between the sun and the star nearest to it -- a star called Alpha Centauri. That's a distance of about 4 light years. Now, imagine as many as 10,000 of our suns crammed into that relatively small space.
Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics have produced the first detailed three-dimensional map of the stars that form the inner regions of our Milky Way, using publicly available VVV survey data from the science archive facility at ESO. They find a box/peanut shaped bulge with an elongated bar and a prominent X-structure, which had been hinted at in previous studies. This indicates that the Milky Way was originally a pure disk of stars, which then formed a thin bar, before buckling into the box/peanut shape seen today. The new map can be used for more detailed studies of the dynamics and evolution of our Milky Way.
A UNSW-led team of astronomers has begun to map the location of the most massive and mysterious objects in our galaxy -- the giant gas clouds where new stars are born.
Scientists, including University of New Hampshire astrophysicists involved in NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) mission, have discovered that the particles streaming into the solar system from interstellar space have likely changed direction over the last 40 years.
UBC astronomers have discovered the first Trojan asteroid sharing the orbit of Uranus, and believe 2011 QF99 is part of a larger-than-expected population of transient objects temporarily trapped by the gravitational pull of the Solar System's giant planets.
Astronomers using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have taken a major step in explaining why material around the giant black hole at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy is extraordinarily faint in X-rays. This discovery holds important implications for understanding black holes.
Scientists have detected magmatic water -- water that originates from deep within the Moon's interior -- on the surface of the Moon. These findings, published in the August 25 issue of Nature Geoscience, represent the first such remote detection of this type of lunar water, and were arrived at using data from NASA's Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3).
Astronomers at the University of Arizona, the Arcetri Observatory near Florence, Italy and the Carnegie Observatory have developed a new type of camera that allows scientists to take sharper images of the night sky than ever before.
During its five-year primary mission, NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has given astronomers an increasingly detailed portrait of the universe's most extraordinary phenomena, from giant black holes in the hearts of distant galaxies to thunderstorms on Earth.
Voyager 1 appears to have at long last left our solar system and entered interstellar space, says a University of Maryland-led team of researchers.
Studying the evolution and anatomy of galaxies using the Hubble Space Telescope, an international team of astronomers led by doctoral candidate BoMee Lee and her advisor Mauro Giavalisco at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have established that mature-looking galaxies existed much earlier than previously known, when the universe was only about 2.5 billion years old, or 11.5 billion years ago.
A research team led by Tomoro Sashida and Tomoharu Oka (Keio University) has succeeded in precisely measuring the expansion velocity of a shockwave of the supernova remnant W44. The remnant is located in the constellation of Aquila, approximately 10,000 light-years away from our solar system. The team observed the high-temperature and high-density molecular gas in the millimeter/submillimeter wave ranges. The analysis shows that the expansion velocity of the W44 shockwave is 12.9±0.2 km/sec.
New research from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) is showing that, contrary to previous theories, these gargantuan galaxies appear to slow their growth over time, feeding less and less off neighboring galaxies.
The surface of Mars -- including the location of Beagle-2 -- has been shown in unprecedented detail by scientists using a revolutionary image stacking and matching technique. Exciting pictures of the Beagle-2 lander, the ancient lakebeds discovered by NASA's Curiosity rover, NASA's MER-A rover tracks and Home Plate's rocks have been released by the researchers who stacked and matched images taken from orbit, to reveal objects at a resolution up to five times greater than previously achieved.
NASA's Juno mission is rewriting what scientists thought they knew about Jupiter specifically, and gas giants in general, according to a pair of Science papers released today. The Juno spacecraft has been in orbit around Jupiter since July 2016, passing within 3,000 miles of the equatorial cloudtops.