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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.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Exoplanet's vaporized atmosphere reveals rare look at its rocky surface

Rocky planets just a little larger than Earth are some of the best targets for finding life in our local cosmic neighborhood. They’re abundant. But it’s not just the size that has to match Earth. Our planet wouldn’t be the life-shel...
Friday, August 16, 2019

Spitzer spots a sideways galaxy in infrared

The force seems to be strong in this galaxy far, far away. NGC 5866 sits 44 million lightyears from Earth, and, from our vantage point, looks uncannily like a Star Wars-worthy lightsaber. NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope recently captured the pic...

The Sky This Week from August 16 to 25

Friday, August 16 Asteroid 15 Eunomia reached opposition and peak visibility just four days ago, and the view tonight is essentially the same. The main-belt object traverses the sky from dusk to dawn and climbs halfway to the zenith in the southern s...

A massive star completely destroyed by a supernova is puzzling scientists

In November of 2016, the sharp-eyed Gaia spacecraft spied a supernova that exploded some billion light-years from Earth. Astronomers followed up with more telescopes, and quickly realized that this supernova – dubbed SN2016iet – was an od...
Thursday, August 15, 2019

New date for 'Late Heavy Bombardment' may change life's timeline on Earth

The solar system once experienced a meteor shower of epic proportions: Asteroids whizzed around the inner planets, crashing down in a rain of fire that left their surfaces scarred for billions of years. Astronomers typically call this period the Late...

Jupiter may have been hit by a massive proto-planet long ago

In 2016, NASA’s Juno spacecraft arrived at Jupiter with the goal of peering through Jupiter’s dense clouds to reveal the giant planet’s inner secrets. Along with the stunning pictures Juno has sent back, it’s also used its ins...

The windswept craters of Mars' Terra Cimmeria

The ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft recently revealed the bleak yet beautiful terrain of Terra Cimmeria in Mars southern highlands. The stunning new views highlight valleys carved by liquid water that once flowed across the surface, windswept dun...

ExoMars fails another parachute test, threatening 2020 mission

ExoMars is a planned mission to Mars set to launch in the summer of 2020. But a recent series of parachute test failures may threaten that launch date. ExoMars is being built by a joint operation between the European and Russian space agencies (ESA a...
Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Supernova dust found hidden in antarctic snow

Antarctica is one of the most pristine places on the planet. Thanks to its generally inhospitable nature, as well as its natural isolation, it’s a good place for astronomers to search for meteorites and other materials that fall from the sky. T...
Monday, August 12, 2019

Astronomers catch a pulsar 'glitching,' offering insights into the strange stars

When a massive star dies, it leaves behind a dense core called a neutron star. Many of these exotic suns spin rapidly, sending out beams of radiation like lighthouses, and these are called pulsars. They can rotate thousands of times a second, and spi...

Perseid meteor watch: Summer's prolific light show takes a hit

A bright Moon seriously hinders the Perseid meteor shower this year. The shower’s peak occurs the morning of August 13, just two days before Full Moon. On the 13th, the Moon sets around 4 a.m. local daylight time, and the first hints of twiligh...

Hubble captures dance of two merging galaxies

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope caught two galaxies merging in a dance-like fashion. The pair, dubbed UGC 2369, have been pulled together by gravity for quite some time now. And this pull creates the woven fabric of the blues and browns seen in t...

The origin of life: Not as coincidental as once thought?

(Inside Science) -- Experts believe the building blocks of life first bumped into each other about 3.5 billion years ago. This serendipitous collision somehow helped form the first rudimentary cell -- and the first life on Earth. At least, that's bee...
Friday, August 9, 2019

The Sky This Week from August 9 to 18

Friday, August 9 Although Jupiter reached opposition and peak visibility two months ago, it remains a stunning sight from shortly after sunset until well past midnight. But it appears especially nice this evening, when a waxing gibbous Moon passes ju...

SETI to use deep-sea vents for practice hunting alien life

Some of the most intriguing possibilities for finding life outside Earth are on water worlds like Europa or Enceladus — ocean moons orbiting Jupiter and Saturn. However, those worlds are encased in layers of ice, meaning any ocean exploration w...
Thursday, August 8, 2019

When Earth's magnetic field flips, it could take thousands of years

North, I was once surprised to learn, is not always north. There’s geographic north, “up” on maps toward the North Pole, and then there’s magnetic north, which is where compass needles point. Right now the two kind of line up,...

Hubble settles an old debate about galaxies with supermassive black holes

Every large galaxy has a supermassive black hole at its center. And some of those black holes are actively ejecting huge amounts of high-energy light out into the cosmos. Astronomers divide some of these active galaxies, which otherwise look like no...
Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Astronomers search for radio signals from 'dead planets'

In five or six billion years, our Sun will expand into a red giant star hundreds of times larger than it is now. It will envelop Mercury and Venus, and possibly Earth as well, and then slowly puff away its outer layers. The hot, dense core left behin...

Dozens of galaxies discovered from the early universe

The universe is 13.8 billion years old, but scientists have trouble seeing back to its earliest days. This cosmic dawn has been obscured by time, distance, and the rest of the universe. Part of the problem is that light gets stretched as it travels a...
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