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News

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, December 06, 2019

The Sky This Week from December 6 to 15

Friday, December 6 A lone bright star now hangs low in the south during early evening. First-magnitude Fomalhaut — often called “the Solitary One” — belongs to the constellation Piscis Austrinus the Southern Fish. From mid-nor...

Orbiting robots could soon start repairing satellites in space

Researchers at the University of Cincinnati are developing a new robotic network of spacecraft that could help satellites repair each other in low-Earth orbit. The effort is being led by aerospace engineer Ou Ma, who has worked on projects relating...
Thursday, December 05, 2019

Meet CIMON-2, a new and improved robotic AI astronaut

Supercomputers with artificial intelligence don't have a gleaming reputation as intergalactic travel pals — you know, HAL 9000 and that old yarn. But that didn’t stop space agencies from making a robot astronaut assistant anyway. In 2018...

This huge galaxy has the biggest black hole ever measured

Astronomers have found the biggest black hole ever measured — it's 40 billion times the sun’s mass, or roughly two-thirds the mass of all stars in the Milky Way. The gargantuan black hole lurks in a galaxy that’s supermassive itself...
Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Boca Chica: the tiny Texas town where SpaceX is building Starship

The last thing the residents of Boca Chica expected were the spaceships. Hurricanes, yes. Border walls, maybe. But the gleaming metal rockets that began hurling themselves into the sky atop pillars of flame were unexpected, to say the least. When Elo...

Low gravity may make astronauts' guts more fragile

Astronauts may want to watch what they eat. In a lab experiment, researchers found that microgravity might keep the cells that line the insides of human intestines from forming strong barriers against food-borne disease agents. That could make astron...

Giant planet found around tiny white dwarf star, a first

For the first time, astronomers have discovered evidence for a giant planet orbiting a tiny, dead white dwarf star. And, surprisingly, the Neptune-sized planet is more than four times the diameter of the Earth-sized star it orbits. "This star has a ...

NASA's mission to the Sun is already cracking some of our star's mysteries

Scientists just released the first results from NASA's Parker Solar Probe, a mission to “touch” the Sun. NASA launched the probe in August 2018, and it has already made a few laps around the Sun. Along the way, it's brought new insights i...
Tuesday, December 03, 2019

This space anthropologist is chronicling astronauts' lives in orbit

In the fall of 1957, the Soviet Union satellite Sputnik 1 streaked across the night’s sky. The event kicked off the Space Age. It also captured the attention of 9-year-old Jack Stuster, who watched from outside of his grandmother’s house,...

Astronomers find surprisingly complex magnetic fields in a galaxy’s halo

In galaxies, magnetic fields can extend at least 1,000 light-years. And, thanks to some of today’s most powerful radio telescopes, astronomers are trying to understand how these vast fields were created and how they affect the galaxies they&rsq...
Monday, December 02, 2019

Hubble spots a galaxy brimming with young suns

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope recently captured a fresh look at NGC 3749, a spiral galaxy that sits about 135 million light-years away from Earth. The galaxy is a classic version of what astronomers call an emission line galaxy, a kind that giv...

First interstellar comet may soon break apart as it nears the Sun

In September, astronomers announced the discovery of the first interstellar comet known to have visited our solar system. Named 2I/Borisov after its Ukrainian discoverer, the comet has an extremely extended orbit — a telltale sign that its orig...

These so-called 'super-puff' worlds could be exoplanets with ring

As astronomers find more and more planets outside the solar system, they’re bound to come across some strange ones. They call one type of weird exoplanet “super-puffs” because their densities seem to be far lower than even the gas g...
Friday, November 29, 2019

The Sky This Week from November 29 to December 8

Friday, November 29 The waxing crescent Moon appears 2° to Saturn’s left this evening. The two stand some 15° above the southwestern horizon an hour after sunset and will make a pretty pair with the naked eye or through binoculars. Of c...
Wednesday, November 27, 2019

A new method of hunting nearby black holes turns up a monster

When many large stars die, they turn into black holes. And yet, despite the billions of stars in our Milky Way, astronomers have only discovered a handful of black holes within the galaxy. That's because, at the moment, their methods can only pick ou...
Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Jupiter's Great Red Spot may not be disappearing

In the last 10 years, but in the last five months in particular, the press has reported dire warnings that the Great Red Spot of Jupiter is dying. However, some astronomers believe, to paraphrase Mark Twain, that the reports of its death are greatly ...

Earth may have recently destroyed one of its own minimoons

The Moon is probably not Earth’s only natural satellite right now. Our planet's gravity regularly captures small space rocks and pulls them into orbit. Astronomers estimate that there's probably a 1-yard-wide “minimoon” orbiting Ear...
Monday, November 25, 2019

What if the Moon disappeared tomorrow?

The closest object to our planet, the Moon, may seem like Earth’s little sibling. Since its birth, the satellite has mostly just hung around, playing gravitational tug-of-war. But what would happen if the Moon vanished tomorrow? “Three b...
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