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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, October 20, 2017

Saturn’s rings taken seven siblings to stay in place

New data from the Cassini spacecraft suggests that Saturn’s outermost “main” A ring is held in place by seven moons, rather than the single originally suspected shepherd, Janus. The small moons Pan, Atlas, Prometheus, Pandora, and E...

Kronos: The eater of planets

The Sun has been pretty good to us here on Earth over the last billion or so years. Sure we get the occasional solar storm and some deviations from ideal temperatures. But, by and large, we have a relatively supportive parent star. It’s nothing...
Thursday, October 19, 2017

Hubble reboots Messier Catalog

Today, NASA published the Hubble Space Telescope’s version of the Messier catalog, a list of 110 deep-sky objects (including nebulae, star clusters, and galaxies) that French astronomer Charles Messier began almost 250 years ago. This new rebo...
Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Monsoons of methane on Titan

Before 2004, we knew very little about Saturn’s Mercury-sized moon, Titan — save that it had a dense, nitrogen-rich atmosphere. But over the course of 13 years, the Cassini spacecraft completed more than 100 flybys of Titan, constantly co...

Gravitational Waves Show How Fast The Universe is Expanding

The first gravitational wave observed from a neutron star merger offers the potential for a whole raft of new discoveries. Among them is a more precise measurement of the Hubble constant, which captures how fast our universe is expanding. Ever since ...
Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Astronomers Tally All the Gold in Our Galaxy

Before “he went to Jared,” two neutron stars collided. That’s what scientists learned from studying the debris fallout after a cosmic explosion called a kilonova — 1,000 times brighter than a standard nova — which appear...

Fire threatens Mount Wilson Observatory

Just before 4 a.m. this morning, yet another wildfire broke out in California, this one prompting the evacuation of at least a dozen people from the area surrounding Mount Wilson Observatory. The historic observatory is home to the 100-inch Hooker te...
Monday, October 16, 2017

Dawn of an Era: Astronomers Hear and See Cosmic Collision

For hundreds of millions of years, two city-sized stars in a galaxy not-so-far away circled each other in a fatal dance. Their dimensions were diminutive, but each outweighed our sun. They were neutron stars — the collapsed cores left behind af...

LIGO Detects a Neutron Star Merger

On August 17, Mother Nature delivered a gift to astronomers as precious as anything they could have imagined: gravitational waves from two neutron stars spiraling inward and merging, followed moments later by a burst of gamma rays from the same patch...
Friday, October 13, 2017

Astronomy without light

Humans have always practiced some form of astronomy. For thousands of years, that meant observing only the light our eyes could see — either unaided or with a variety of instruments, such as astrolabes or telescopes. The 20th century brought ne...

Ok, so what’s really going on with Tabby’s Star?

Hiding in the treasure trove of Kepler data was an exciting mystery. It was a star that dimmed so much that whatever caused it had to be 20 times the size of Jupiter. Every possible explanation under and beyond the Sun has since been thrown at the ...
Thursday, October 12, 2017

The first pixel of a galactic selfie

We cannot see the Milky Way like we do other galaxies, and that’s because we live inside of it. Although we can peer along its edge while embedded in its disk, we cannot see what it looks like face-on. This is really annoying to astronomers, an...

This weirdo dwarf planet has a ring around it

Long ago, something happened to Haumea. Something large smashed into the world, rendering it unable to fall back into a circular shape because of its small size. Instead, it more has the dimensions of an ellipse or grain of rice. The collision also...
Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Astronomers spot one of the brightest novae ever

Novae occur when a dead star flares back to life in the sky. These events signal a white dwarf, the remnant of a star like our Sun, suddenly and briefly reigniting fusion in its thin atmosphere as it pulls mass from a companion star in a binary syste...
Tuesday, October 10, 2017

FOXSI may reveal why Sun’s corona is so hot

You have probably heard of solar flares before. These bright eruptions from the Sun’s surface are triggered when knotted magnetic field lines within the Sun suddenly snap and reconnect, accelerating fireballs of plasma outward to distances up t...
Monday, October 9, 2017

New research helps solve galactic murders

Our universe is dying. To be specific, an increasing number of galaxies are no longer able to form new stars. Just 10 billion years ago, the universe was burgeoning with plentiful star formation. So why is the health of galaxies on the decline? New ...
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