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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.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The first discovered interstellar asteroid is a quarter-mile long red beast

The first discovered interstellar asteroid to come through our solar system has quite an unusual shape. 1I/2017 U1, which has since been named `Oumuamua, swept past Earth last month. Its bizarre trajectory seemed to indicate that it wasn’t in ...
Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Planetary scientists close in on a super-Earth with an Earth-like atmosphere

55 Cancri e may have an oddly familiar atmosphere, but don’t get your hopes up. The super-Earth appears to have an atmosphere dominated by hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen, much like Earth. But it completes an entire year in just 18 hours and ha...

Did life hitchhike through the Solar System?

Astronomers have long believed that asteroid (or comet) impacts were the only natural way to transport life between planets. However, a new study published November 6 in Astrobiology suggests otherwise. The study, authored by Professor Arjun Berera...
Monday, November 20, 2017

Cooking up supermassive black holes in the early universe

If you want to cook up a stellar-mass black hole, it’s fairly easy. Take a massive star, wait until it has consumed all its elemental fuel, watch the blinding supernova, and before you know it, you have a black hole. Now, if you want to create ...

Battered but not broken: Arecibo Observatory receives renewed funding

It has been two months since Hurricane Maria pummeled Puerto Rico on September 20, downing power lines, damaging buildings, and knocking out water supplies across the island. During the devastation, a small group of workers found refuge within the Co...
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...


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