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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, February 27, 2015

Chandra finds intriguing member of black hole family tree

A newly discovered cosmic object may help provide answers to some long-standing questions about how black holes evolve and influence their surroundings, according to a new study using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. “In paleontology, t...

Astronomers find newborn stars at the edge of our galaxy

Brazilian astronomers have made a remarkable discovery: a cluster of stars forming on the edge of our galaxy. The Milky Way has a barred spiral shape with arms of stars, gas, and dust winding out from a central bar. Viewed from the side, the galaxy ...
Thursday, February 26, 2015

Pockets of calm protect molecules around supermassive black hole

Researchers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have discovered regions where certain organic molecules somehow endure the intense radiation near the supermassive black hole at the center of galaxy NGC 1068, also known to am...

“Bright spot” on Ceres has dimmer companion

Dwarf planet Ceres continues to puzzle scientists as NASA’s Dawn spacecraft gets closer to being captured into orbit around the object. The latest images from Dawn, taken nearly 29,000 miles (46,000 kilometers) from Ceres, reveal that a bright ...
Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Ancient super-bright quasar with massive black hole found

Quasars — supermassive black holes found at the center of distant massive galaxies — are the most luminous beacons in the sky. These central supermassive black holes actively accrete the surrounding materials and release a huge amount of ...

Physicists offer a solution to the puzzle of the origin of matter in the universe

Most of the laws of nature treat particles and antiparticles equally, but stars and planets are made of particles or matter and not antiparticles or antimatter. That asymmetry, which favors matter to a small degree, has puzzled scientists for many ye...
Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Why comets are like deep-fried ice cream

Astronomers tinkering with ice and organics in the lab may have discovered why comets are encased in a hard outer crust. Using an icebox-like instrument nicknamed Himalaya, the researchers show that fluffy ice on the surface of a comet would crystal...
Monday, February 23, 2015

Does dark matter cause mass extinctions and geologic upheavals?

Research by New York University Biology Professor Michael Rampino concludes that Earth's infrequent but predictable path around and through our galaxy's disk may have a direct and significant effect on geological and biological phenomena occurring on...
Friday, February 20, 2015

Telescopes give shape to furious black hole winds

NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) and the European Space Agency’s (ESA) XMM-Newton are showing that fierce winds from a supermassive black hole blow outward in all directions — a phenomenon that had been suspecte...

Astronomy selects 2015 Youth Essay Contest winner

The editors of Astronomy magazine have selected 13-year-old Julia Derzay of Pewaukee, Wisconsin, as the winner of Astronomy’s 2015 Youth Essay Contest. For her entry on what she loves best about astronomy, Julia will receive an all-expenses-pai...

Hubble gets best view of a circumstellar debris disk distorted by a planet

Astronomers have used NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to take the most detailed picture to date of a large edge-on gas-and-dust disk encircling the 20-million-year-old star Beta Pictoris. Beta Pictoris remains the only directly imaged debris dis...
Thursday, February 19, 2015

A close call of 0.8 light-years

A group of astronomers from the U.S., Europe, Chile, and South Africa have determined that 70,000 years ago a recently discovered dim star is likely to have passed through the solar system’s distant cloud of comets, the Oort Cloud. No other sta...

Dark matter guides growth of supermassive black holes

Every massive galaxy has a black hole at its center, and the heftier the galaxy, the bigger its black hole. But why are the two related? After all, the black hole is millions of times smaller and less massive than its home galaxy. A new study of foo...
Wednesday, February 18, 2015

New SPHERE instrument shows its power

The new SPHERE instrument on the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT) has been used to search for a brown dwarf expected to be orbiting the unusual double star V471 Tauri. SPHERE has given astronomers the best look s...

Dawn captures sharper images of Ceres

Craters and mysterious bright spots are beginning to pop out in the latest images of Ceres from NASA's Dawn spacecraft. These images, taken February 12 at a distance of 52,000 miles (83,000 kilometers) from the dwarf planet, pose intriguing questions...
Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A new way to view Titan: “Despeckle” it

During 10 years of discovery, NASA's Cassini spacecraft has pulled back the smoggy veil that obscures the surface of Titan, Saturn's largest moon. Cassini's radar instrument has mapped almost half of the giant moon's surface; revealed vast, desert-li...

Mystery Mars plume baffles scientists

Plumes seen reaching high above the surface of Mars are causing a stir among scientists studying the atmosphere on the Red Planet. On two separate occasions in March and April 2012, amateur astronomers reported definite plume-like features developi...
Monday, February 16, 2015

Interstellar technology throws light on spinning black holes

The team responsible for the Oscar-nominated visual effects at the center of Christopher Nolan’s epic Interstellar have turned science fiction into science fact by providing new insights into the powerful effects of black holes. In a recent pa...

ALMA sees super stellar nurseries at heart of Sculptor Galaxy

Starburst galaxies transmute gas into new stars at a dizzying pace — up to 1,000 times faster than typical spiral galaxies like the Milky Way. To help understand why some galaxies "burst" while others do not, an international team of astronomer...
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