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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.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Researchers have peered through pulsar winds

Pulsars serve as cosmic beacons, beaming radiation into space. But not all of these beacons look the same. Now, astronomers have used NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory to provide a clearer picture of the nebulae that form around pulsars to reconstruct...

This study shows Earth may have harbored complex life 2 billion years ago

Everyone is still looking for evidence of life on another planet, and there’s no better way to start a search than to look at what’s already been successful and why. That’s why a team at the University of Washington did a study of ...

Is the multiverse physics, philosophy, or something else entirely?

The idea of the multiverse — or the theoretical possibility of infinite parallel universes--straddles a strange world between science fiction and a plausible hypothesis. Though scientists have no direct evidence for the multiverse's existence, ...
Tuesday, January 17, 2017

New observations of FO Aquarii reveal strange behavior within this cannibalistic binary system

FO Aquarii, a famous binary system comprised of a compact white dwarf stripping mass from a low-mass companion star, has decided to misbehave. When a National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) student at the University ...
Monday, January 16, 2017

Moon Express raised enough funds for trip to the Moon

The California-based American team for the international Google Lunar X Prize competition, Moon Express, has made its next milestone in the competition. Moon Express has raised enough money for the trip to the Moon, raising a total of $45 million so...

NASA Has the Asteroid Protection Plan, But Where’s the Money?

Asteroid impacts have the distinction of being one of the few sci-fi concepts that will definitely happen at some point. But despite the clear and present (although potentially far off) danger of getting smacked by an asteroid, we’ve devoted fe...

Bulge in Venus’ atmosphere likely caused by gravity waves

A massive, bow-shaped wave was spotted for the first time in the highest regions of Venus’ atmosphere, perplexing astronomers. The structure was captured by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) in some of the first images returned by ...

Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the Moon, dies at 82

Eugene "Gene" Cernan, a Gemini astronaut turned two-time Apollo explorer, has passed away at age 82. Cernan was first recruited to NASA in 1963 after previously serving in the Navy. In 1966, he flew aboard the Gemini 9A mission with Thomas Stafford,...
Friday, January 13, 2017

This video recaps the stellar landing of Huygens on Titan

In 2005, ESA’s Cassini-Huygens mission became the first spacecraft to ever land on a moon outside of our own when it dove below the atmosphere Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. Huygens also made history in this is still the furthest successfu...
Thursday, January 12, 2017

Caltech’s newest instrument will untangle the cosmic web with new imaging capabilities

The universe is an empty place — or is it? The cold gas filaments that span the space between galaxies are faint and hard to see, but astronomers believe this difficult-to-detect gas is responsible for the evolution of galaxies over time. With ...

The Moon is much older than everyone thought

The Moon has been a constant in the sky, but have you wondered just how old it actually is? A team of researchers at UCLA wondered that exact thing and conducted a study to find an exact age and found the Moon is as much as 140 million years older th...

Are there volcanoes on comets?

Volcanoes may not just exist on moons and planets. A comet orbiting between Saturn and Jupiter seems to have its own signs of icy volcanism, spewing frozen material instead of hot lava. Rather than a single stagnant mound, however, the eruptions come...
Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Astronomers uncover the hidden struggles of photons in distant galaxies

Researchers studying some of the youngest galaxies currently visible with today’s technology have made an amazing discovery. They’ve found that these galaxies grab and hold onto their photons, letting very few escape -- something that cou...

The Milky Way may have stolen stars from another galaxy

Our galaxy is a dirty, rotten thief. Eleven stars at the edge of the galaxy, roughly 300,000 light years from Earth, seem to have come from elsewhere. What’s more, Marion Dierickx and Avi Loeb of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics...
Tuesday, January 10, 2017

New images from Mars orbiter show the Earth and Moon

It’s always exciting to see new images of Earth to remind us what our planet looks like from afar. NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter released a new image on Friday that shows the Earth and Moon from Mars. Mars was 127 millio...

This small star may be dimming because it ate a Jupiter-sized planet

There’s something weird going on at RZ Pisces. Nobody can seem to tell how old it is — or why a star of its age is still abundant in the gas and dimming and debris associated with much younger systems. If it’s old, there should be ...

The inside story of "Hidden Figures"

In the heady days of the space race, the Mercury Seven astronauts were celebrities, and the Moon’s silver face seemed, for the first time in human existence, close enough to touch. For many, space was a tantalizing promise of a wonderful future...
Monday, January 09, 2017

What's the universe made of?

How much of you lies among the stars? How are the elements that make up life distributed among stars and planets? As trippy as the questions seem, astronomers from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) announced today at the 229th meeting of the Americ...

How colleagues remember astrophysics pioneer Vera Rubin

Physicist Vera Rubin died on December 25, 2016. She left behind a powerful scientific legacy of finding the first concrete evidence for dark matter based on the observations of galactic motion. But she also leaves behind a personal legacy of what it ...

ESO and the Breakthrough Initiatives team up to search for extrasolar planets next door

The search for exoplanets and the life they could harbor has captured the interest of professional astronomers and the public alike. Now, the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and the Breakthrough Initiatives have signed an agreement that will allo...

The Milky Way’s giant black hole chews up stars and spits out planets

At the center of every large galaxy lies a supermassive black hole that keeps the engine turning. But when a star comes near these black holes, a massive fireworks show ensues — so massive that it can shred the star into 100 million Jupiter-mas...

An asteroid swooped right between the Earth and the moon today

An asteroid came within half the distance from Earth to the Moon, flying through cis-lunar space this morning. Scientists at the Catalina Sky Survey discovered the asteroid, which is being called asteroid 2017 AG13, on Saturday. The asteroid was betw...
Friday, January 06, 2017

Astronomers get their first look at a mysterious galaxy with an unknown past

PGC 1000714 is an innocuous name for an exciting object. This galaxy, which lies approximately 359 million light-years from Earth, is the rarest of the rare – a never-before-seen specimen within an uncommon class of “ringed” galaxie...

How the Voyagers and Hubble work together to map the final frontier

It’s not just a cloudy day somewhere here on Earth. For Hubble, it’s always a cloudy day along the paths of the Voyagers 1 and 2. Mind you, Hubble can’t see the car-sized probes that far out. But Hubble has actively been working wi...

A chunk of interplanetary debris recently slammed into Mars and left this fresh crater and spray of ejecta

Small asteroids and chunks of cometary debris frequently slam into the surface of Mars, gouging out new craters. Thanks to a high resolution camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, scientists can often spot such impacts relatively soo...

This neutron star splits its time between pulsar and magnetar

You might as well call PSR J1119-6127 sasquatch, because it seems to be a “missing link” in neutron stars, according to Walid Majid of JPL. At an announcement on January 6 at the 229th meeting of the American Astronomical Society, Majid ...

Two stars will merge in 2022 and explode into red fury

In 2022, there will be a spectacular sky show. Two stars will merge into one, pushing out excess gas into an explosion known as a red nova. At magnitude 2, it will be as bright as Polaris in the sky, and just behind Sirius and Vega in brightness. The...
Thursday, January 05, 2017

Astronomy on Tap lights up the nights

This article originally appeared in our December 2016 issue. More than 250 people funnel into the North Door bar on the East Side of Austin, find a place to sit or stand, and look toward the stage. A projector beams trivia questions about astronomy ...

How NASA uses a common amateur astronomy technique to make huge discoveries

Hubble has its iconic deep field filled to the brim with galaxies. The Chandra X-ray Observatory has one of its own. In an area just 60 percent the size of the full moon, it peered into an area of ancient galaxies and their massive black holes. Brigh...

Astronomers discover two pulsars with an 'off' switch

A recent study on intermittent pulsars at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico done by a team of radio astronomers at Jodrell Bank in the UK, led by Professor Andrew Lyne of the University of Manchester, discovered two pulsars putting on a “c...

Lowell Observatory to renovate Tombaugh’s Pluto telescope

After January 12, anyone going through Lowell Observatory will not be able to see the telescope Clyde Tombaugh used to discover Pluto. The telescope is being removed temporarily for a year-long renovation project on the instrument. The telescope may ...
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