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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, November 17, 2017

Pluto’s smog keeps it cool

The dwarf planet Pluto averages a distance of nearly 40 astronomical units from the Sun, or 40 times the distance between Earth and the Sun. That vast distance from our heat-giving star is responsible for some pretty frigid temperatures on the small ...
Thursday, November 16, 2017

New pulsar result supports particle dark matter

New results from an unconventional observatory in Mexico are bringing scientists one step closer to solving the dark matter mystery. They lend credence to the idea that some strange non-light-emitting particle is responsible for about 85% of the univ...

The case of the shrinking white dwarf

Consider a Sun-like star, a red giant, and a white dwarf. They all seem pretty different. But really, one star can be all three of these throughout its life. In about 5 billion years, the Sun will turn into a red giant, bloating until it swallows the...
Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A potentially habitable planet has been discovered just 11 light-years away

Our local planetary neighborhood just got a new neighbor — and it may be a good place to find some vital signs. Just 11 light-years away, a sleepy red dwarf star named Ross 128 has at least one planet orbiting it. Ross-128b is roughly the siz...
Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Are you ready for totality from a mountaintop?

On August 21, a total solar eclipse crossed America, prompting 215 million American adults to get out and view the celestial event. Whether you experienced totality or not that day, another chance to do so is swiftly approaching: A total solar eclips...
Monday, November 13, 2017

Is there a terrestrial analogue for Titan?

If you’ve ever wondered what Titan’s hydrocarbon lakes might look like, an asphalt lake in Trinidad may offer a partial answer. It’s not exactly a scenic spot: hot tar oozes up to the surface, cooling into a patchwork crust, and bu...
Thursday, November 09, 2017

Is there (frozen) life on Mars?

Missions from above and on the surface have been searching for life on Mars for years. But there’s an important question worth asking, amidst this vital search: If life once thrived there, how long could even extreme microorganisms survive in M...
Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Discussing dark matter

The Kavli Foundation aims to promote science among the public and to support the scientists who work tirelessly to understand our world (including our universe). Recently, the foundation hosted a roundtable discussion among three scientists working i...

What is dead may never die

To quote the first line of a letter published today in the journal Nature, “Every supernova so far observed has been considered to be the terminal explosion of a star.” In other words, when a massive star blows itself up, it should remain...
Tuesday, November 07, 2017

The first known interstellar interloper

For an example of the prophetic powers of science, check out the February 1997 issue of Astronomy. In the article “Seeking Rogue Comets,” planetary scientist Alan Stern confidently predicted that astronomers would someday discover an inte...

Why won't Enceladus just freeze already?

During its voyage around the ringed planet from 2004 to 2017, the Cassini spacecraft observed a surprising amount of geological activity on Saturn’s sixth largest moon, Enceladus. Cassini found that the frigid world not only has a vast global o...

You can name New Horizons’ next target

New Horizons is on its way deep into the Kuiper Belt, aiming for a (probably) binary object about a billion miles (1.6 billion kilometers) farther from the Sun than Pluto. This cold, distant pair carries the official designation (486958) 2014 MU69, c...
Monday, November 06, 2017

Looking ahead to the Square Kilometer Array

In the next few decades, pulsars and black holes will be some of most important focal points in astrophysics research. Researchers are working to build extremely powerful telescopes that aim to study pulsars and, if they are lucky, supermassive black...
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