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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, March 27, 2015

Hubble and Chandra discover dark matter is not as sticky as once thought

Astronomers using observations from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-ray Observatory have found that dark matter does not slow down when colliding with each other. This means that it interacts with itself even less than previously th...

VLT confirms that G2 survived close approach and is a compact object

The best observations so far of the dusty gas cloud G2 confirm that it made its closest approach to the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way in May 2014 and has survived the experience. The new result from the European Southern Obse...
Thursday, March 26, 2015

Suzaku, Herschel link a black-hole “wind” to a galactic gush of star-forming gas

By combining observations from the Japan-led Suzaku X-ray satellite and the European Space Agency’s infrared Herschel Space Observatory, scientists have connected a fierce “wind” produced near a galaxy’s monster black hole to ...

I ZW 18: The galaxy that reveals the universe’s history

The first galaxies were formed some 13.3 billion years ago, mainly composed of hydrogen and helium, the primary elements that emerged from the Big Bang. Their study to date has been technically challenging due to their great distance from us, but the...
Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Our solar system may have once harbored super-Earths

Long before Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars formed, it seems that the inner solar system may have harbored a number of super-Earths — planets larger than Earth but smaller than Neptune. If so, those planets are long gone — broken up and f...

Curiosity rover finds biologically useful nitrogen on Mars

A team using the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite aboard NASA’s Curiosity rover has made the first detection of nitrogen on the surface of Mars from release during heating of martian sediments. The nitrogen was detected in the fo...
Tuesday, March 24, 2015

NASA satellites catch a “growth spurt” from a newborn protostar

Using data from orbiting observatories, including NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and ground-based facilities, an international team of astronomers has discovered an outburst from a star thought to be in the earliest phase of its development. Th...

NASA’s SOFIA finds missing link between supernovae and planet formation

Using NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), an international scientific team discovered that supernovae are capable of producing a substantial amount of the material from which planets like Earth can form. “Our...
Monday, March 23, 2015

APEX observations help unravel mystery of Nova Vulpeculae 1670

New observations made with APEX and other telescopes reveal that Nova Vulpeculae 1670, which European astronomers saw appear in the sky in 1670, was not a nova, but a much rarer, violent breed of stellar collision. It was spectacular enough to be eas...

Mini supernova explosion could have big impact

In Hollywood blockbusters, explosions are often among the stars of the show. In space, explosions of actual stars are a focus for scientists who hope to better understand their births, lives, and deaths, and how they interact with their surroundings....
Friday, March 20, 2015

Public asked to help name features on Pluto

On July 14, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft will fly past Pluto, offering the first close-up look at that small, distant world and its largest moon, Charon. These denizens of the outer solar system will be transformed from poorly seen hazy bodie...

New instrument extends the search for extraterrestrial intelligence to new realms

Astronomers have expanded the search for extraterrestrial intelligence into a new realm with detectors tuned to infrared light. Their new instrument has just begun to scour the sky for messages from other worlds. “Infrared light would be an ex...
Thursday, March 19, 2015

Hover campaign promises bird’s-eye view of Mercury’s surface

MESSENGER will not go gentle into that good night. The mission will end sometime this spring when the spacecraft runs out of propellant and the force of solar gravity causes it to impact the surface of Mercury. But the team initiated a “hover&r...

Extent of Moon’s giant volcanic eruption is revealed

Scientists have produced a new map of the Moon’s most unusual volcano showing that its explosive eruption spread debris over an area much greater than previously thought. A team of astronomers and geologists, led by experts in the Institute fo...
Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Spacecraft detects aurora and mysterious dust cloud around Mars

NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft has observed two unexpected phenomena in the martian atmosphere: an unexplained high-altitude dust cloud and aurora that reaches deep into the martian atmosphere. The presence of...

Iron rain fell on early Earth, new Z machine data supports

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories’ Z machine have helped untangle a long-standing mystery of astrophysics: Why iron is found spattered throughout Earth’s mantle, the roughly 2,000-mile-thick region between Earth’s core and...
Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Colorful life-form catalog will help discern if we’re alone

While looking for life on planets beyond our solar system, a group of international scientists has created a colorful catalog containing reflection signatures of Earth life-forms that might be found on planet surfaces throughout the cosmic hinterland...
Monday, March 16, 2015

New MESSENGER maps of Mercury’s surface chemistry provide clues to the planet’s history

Two new papers from members of the MESSENGER Science Team provide global-scale maps of Mercury’s surface chemistry that reveal previously unrecognized geochemical terranes — large regions that have compositions distinct from their surroun...

New desktop application has potential to increase asteroid detection

A software application based on an algorithm created by a NASA challenge has the potential to increase the number of new asteroid discoveries by amateur astronomers. Analysis of images taken of our solar system’s main belt asteroids between Ma...
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