Astronomy’s 10 most popular space stories of 2019

From the first picture of a black hole’s event horizon to Hubble’s discovery of a weird, football-shaped planet, these are the stories that caught our readers' attention the most.
By | Published: December 27, 2019 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
Alex Boersma
1.    Water found in habitable super-Earth’s atmosphere for first time

Orbiting a relatively docile red dwarf star, this exoplanet is “the best candidate for habitability that we know right now.”
NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI/Lunar and Planetary Institute/Paul Schenk (LPI, Houston)
2.    The enigma of Enceladus

This tiny saturnian moon may be, pound for pound, the most valuable piece of real estate in the solar system.

3.    New Horizons survived its flyby of MU69

Previously known as Ultima Thule and now officially named Arrokoth, this landmark flyby passed the farthest object that any craft has ever visited.

4.    NASA shuts off systems on Voyager 2, saving power for long haul into interstellar space

Voyager 2 is still going strong, more than 40 years after launch.

5.    A large asteroid zipped between Earth and the Moon

Astronomers missed the asteroid until it was nearly on top of us, but the space rock passed harmlessly by.

6.    Hubble spotted a football-shaped planet leaking heavy metals into space

The planet has an upper atmosphere some 10 times hotter than any other world yet measured, which astronomers think is causing heavy metals to stream away from the planet.

NASA/ESA/P. van Dokkum (Yale University)
7.    Second ghostly galaxy without dark matter discovered, first confirmed

Ironically, by finding two galaxies severely lacking in dark matter, researchers have made a compelling case for the existence of the mysterious material.
ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), Alves et al.
8.    Baby stars found twisting planet-forming disks into a pretzel

Thanks to this unprecedented look into the early lives of binary stars, researchers have gotten a glimpse into the complex formation of the most common stellar setup.

NASA/CXC/ASU/J. Hester et al.
9.    The Crab Nebula blasted Earth with the highest-energy photons ever recorded

The extremely energetic gamma rays originated thousands of light-years away, and scientists still aren’t exactly sure what generated them.

Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration
10.    Event Horizon Telescope released the first ever black hole image

After decades of theorizing about the possibility of catching a black hole image, astronomers finally pulled it off. The results offer new insights into the mysterious objects.