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Your online destination for news articles on planets, cosmology, NASA, space missions, and more. You’ll also find information on how to observe upcoming visible sky events such as meteor showers, solar and lunar eclipses, key planetary appearances, comets, and asteroids.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Supermassive black holes stop star formation in dwarf galaxies

Astronomers know that most galaxies house supermassive black holes in their centers, from the largest galaxies down to small dwarfs. They also know that when supermassive black holes are actively feeding, they can slow or even stop the formation of s...

Ancient Middle Eastern astrologers recorded the oldest-known evidence of aurorae

Astronomers have watched sunspots come and go on the sun’s surface for at least 400 years. But to learn about the history of the sun’s activity before the time of telescopes, they have to turn to historical references to phenomena linked ...

The Sky This Week from October 18 to 27

Friday, October 18 After a three-month hiatus lost in the Sun’s glare, Venus returns to view after sunset in mid-October. It’s not easy to see, however — this evening, the inner planet stands just 2° high in the west-southwest a...

Hubble reveals that galaxies without dark matter really exist

Astronomers have all but confirmed the universe has at least one galaxy that's woefully deficient in dark matter. The new finding not only indicates that galaxies really can exist without dark matter, but also raises fundamental questions about how s...
Thursday, October 17, 2019

NASA reveals new spacesuits designed to fit men and women

NASA revealed two new spacesuits this week that may be worn by astronauts on future missions to the Moon. The suits feature a number of improvements from the Apollo era spacesuits used on the last Moon missions 50 years ago. The two new suits were sh...

Gas 'waterfalls' might be feeding atmospheres of young planets

Stars and their planetary systems are born from clouds of gas and dust that collapse into swirling disks. Astronomers can’t directly see planets forming in these disks because they’re hidden in all the debris. But in the past few years, n...
Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Jupiter shields Europa from cosmic rays that could erase evidence of life

Europa, one of Jupiter’s four largest moons, has an ocean of liquid water beneath its icy crust. In the coming years, scientists hope to send probes to the world to study the chemistry of its ocean and look for possible signs of alien life. One...
Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Astronomers zoom in on a galaxy 9 billion light-years away thanks to gravitational lensing

When even the most powerful telescopes can’t capture the views you want, it helps to have natural magnifying glasses to rely on. In a paper published Monday in Nature Astronomy, researchers describe how they zoomed in to capture a young, star-f...

Boeing Starliner gears up for crewed trip to ISS with two new test dates

NASA confirmed the aviation and aerospace company Boeing is pushing forward with their new Starliner crew capsule, which aims to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2020. But before the craft is deemed fit to carry a crew, it...
Monday, October 14, 2019

Quakes reveal Mars has a unique interior

NASA’s Mars InSight spacecraft landed on the Red Planet in November 2018. Scientists equipped the mission with a seismometer so they could learn how Mars releases seismic energy — that is, to get a feel for how the Red Planet rumbles. So ...

This interstellar space rock looks a lot like our own solar system's comets

Asteroids, comets and other rocky objects litter the solar system, left over from when the planets formed. Scientists study these space rocks to learn about what the early solar system was like. Now, we’re entering an era in which we can learn ...
Friday, October 11, 2019

Merging stars may create the universe's most powerful magnets

More than 60 years ago, astronomers realized about 10 percent of massive stars have powerful magnetic fields bursting from their surfaces. But the exact origins of these magnetic fields —which can reach hundreds to thousands of times the streng...

The Sky This Week from October 11 to 20

Friday, October 11 Jupiter continues to dominate the early evening sky from its perch in southern Ophiuchus the Serpent-bearer. The giant planet shines at magnitude –2.0 and stands some 15° above the southwestern horizon as twilight fades t...

Could Life Survive on a Planet Orbiting a Black Hole?

In the 2014 movie Interstellar, astronauts investigate planets orbiting a supermassive black hole as potential homes for human life. A supermassive black hole warps surrounding space-time, according to Einstein’s theory of general relativity, a...

Alexei Leonov, first person to walk in space, dies at 85

Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, the first person to walk in space, has died at the age of 85 at the Burdenko Military Hospital in Moscow. His death was announced Friday, Oct. 11, by Roscosmos, Russia’s space agency. Born in 1934, Leonov became ...
Thursday, October 10, 2019

The Milky Way's supermassive black hole erupted with a violent flare just a few million years ago

Astronomers believe supermassive black holes probably lurk in the centers of most large galaxies. These gargantuan black holes can gather swirling disks of material around them as their gravity attracts stars and gases. In some cases, these disks can...

NASA is building its first electric airplane

NASA is getting ready to test their first all-electric plane, the X-57 Maxwell, at the Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California. This latest version of the aircraft, called Modification II or Mod II, just arrived at Edwards from San L...
Tuesday, October 08, 2019

NASA’s ICON satellite to launch on Wednesday

NASA will launch its Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) satellite on Wednesday, October 9, from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 9:30 p.m. EDT. The new satellite will orbit Earth, studying what happens when space weather and Ea...

Physics Nobel awarded for exoplanet and cosmological discoveries

(Inside Science) — The 2019 Nobel Prize in physics has been awarded to three scientists “for contribution to our understanding of the evolution of the universe and Earth’s place in the cosmos.” This year’s prize was awa...

Which galaxies are best suited for the evolution of alien life?

Where in the universe can life evolve? When scientists discuss this question, they’re usually talking about what kinds of planets might support life. But some researchers are thinking bigger. In recent years, astronomers have been investigatin...

This lake on Mars was drying up 3.5 billion years ago

Mars was a very different place as a young planet. Liquid water dotted the Red Planet’s landscape with lakes and rivers. But the planet’s climate changed drastically in the past few billion years. Today, scientists see the remains of the ...

How the first exoplanets were discovered

In 1992, astronomers discovered the first exoplanet, or planet outside our solar system. But it didn’t come in any form they’d really anticipated. Neutron stars are the second densest type of object in the universe outside black holes. Th...
Monday, October 07, 2019

How many astronauts have died in space?

For many wannabe astronauts, the idea of venturing into the great unknown would be a dream come true. But over the past 50 years, there's been a slew of spaceflight-related tragedies that are more akin to an astronaut's worst nightmare. In the last ...

How galaxies and their supermassive black holes grow together

Every massive galaxy likely harbors a supermassive black hole at its center, weighing in at millions or even billions of times the mass of our Sun. Earlier this year, for the first time ever, a team even managed to image the shadow cast by one of the...

20 new moons discovered orbiting Saturn

Astronomers have found 20 new moons orbiting Saturn, bumping its total up to 82 moons. That surpasses Jupiter, which was the prior reigning champion with 79 moons. One of the new moons has the farthest known orbit around Saturn, and all are similar ...


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