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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, January 17, 2020

Four strange new objects found around the Milky Way's huge black hole

Astronomers have discovered four new and mysterious objects orbiting the Milky Way's supermassive black hole, Sagittarius A*. The bizarre objects look a lot like common clouds of gas and dust, but they surprisingly manage to stay compact like stars a...

The Sky This Week from January 17 to 26

Friday, January 17 Last Quarter Moon occurs at 7:58 a.m. EST. By the time it rises shortly after 1 a.m. local time Saturday morning, it will appear slightly but noticeably less than half-lit. The Moon then lies near the border between the constellati...
Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Second terrestrial planet found around closest star to the Sun

Our nearest celestial neighbor, the star Proxima Centauri, likely has a second planet. The planet, dubbed Proxima c, is at least about 6 times the mass of Earth and orbits its tiny red dwarf host once every 5.2 years. If confirmed, the newly discove...
Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Binary stars may be an explanation for powerful gamma-ray bursts

Throughout the universe, bright explosions that astronomers call gamma-ray bursts blaze through space. These gamma-ray bursts are the brightest explosions known — a typical gamma-ray burst can produce as much energy in the seconds or minutes of...

NASA will broadcast final spacewalk to repair AMS

NASA TV will be airing live the next three spacewalks, which will finish repairs to the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) and replacement of batteries on the solar panels on the on the International Space Station (ISS).
Monday, January 13, 2020

Scientists find meteorite pieces older than the solar system

In pieces of a meteorite, scientists have found tiny mineral grains that are older than the Sun and the solar system, which formed about 4.6 billion years ago. Some of these “presolar grains,” the researchers found, are between five and s...

Why does a week have seven days?

Waiting for the weekend can often seem unbearable, a whole seven days between Saturdays. Having seven days in a week has been the case for a very long time, and so people don’t often stop to ask why. Most of our time reckoning is due to the mo...
Friday, January 10, 2020

The Sky This Week from January 10 to 19

Friday, January 10 Full Moon arrives officially at 2:21 p.m. EST, but it will look completely illuminated all night. You can find it rising in the east at sunset and peaking high in the south shortly after midnight local time. It dips low in the west...

Binary star V Sagittae expected to light up the night sky in 2083

By the end of the 21st century, stargazers may witness a “new star” seem to appear in the constellation Sagitta the Arrow. Located roughly 7,800 light-years away, the two stars, collectively called V Sagittae, are spiraling closer and clo...
Thursday, January 9, 2020

Astronomers see how the universe first lit up from most distant galaxy cluster

About 13 billion years ago, the universe emerged from a period of darkness, ushering in a cosmic dawn. As galaxies lit up with stars, they changed the chemical composition of their surroundings, allowing light to shine clearly throughout the universe...

Probing the cosmos for flaws in Einstein's general relativity

A century ago, Albert Einstein became famous. Sure, he was already well-known among physicists. But the world at large learned his name only after November 1919, when news broke that his theory of gravity had been confirmed — to the dismay of m...

With more Starlink satellites, astronomers keep voicing concerns

Spaceflight company SpaceX launched its latest batch of Starlink satellites into orbit on Monday. Two prior batches were launched in May and November of last year. Also this week: Thousands of astronomers congregated in Honolulu for an annual meetin...

How upcoming space telescopes will work with the iconic Hubble

The Hubble Space Telescope is like a time machine. Well, at least according to astronomer Garth Illingworth, who recently spoke at the 235th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) in Honolulu, Hawaii. Even those unfamiliar with the world...
Wednesday, January 8, 2020

K dwarf stars may offer the best odds for hosting alien life

As researchers search the cosmos for extraterrestrial life, it's important to look for more than life-friendly planets. Another crucial factor in whether life can survive is the stars those planets orbit around. In recent years, some astronomers hav...

Gravitational waves reveal a second neutron star collision

For just the second time, scientists have used gravitational waves (ripples in space-time) to detect the merger of two colliding neutron stars. The neutron stars — which each cram roughly the mass of the Sun into a city-sized space — have...

A ring of gas discovered circling a galaxy

Saturn may be the most famous celestial object sporting a flashy ring, but planets aren’t the only ones accessorizing. Entire galaxies, too, can have massive rings encircling them. A team of researchers has found an enormous gas ring around a ...
Tuesday, January 7, 2020

NASA telescope discovers its first planet orbiting two stars

Since its launch in 2018, NASA's space-based TESS Telescope has discovered at least 37 confirmed exoplanets and identified more than 1,500 exoplanet candidates. And now, it has uncovered its first Tatooine-like circumbinary planet — a world tha...

A habitable Earth-sized planet discovered by nearby star

A few months ago a group of NASA exoplanet astronomers, who are in the business of discovering planets around other stars, called me into a secret meeting to tell me about a planet that had captured their interest. Because my expertise lies in modeli...
Monday, January 6, 2020

The length of a day on Venus keeps changing

For over 50 years, humans have tried to pull back the thick clouds of Venus to study its surface. Most observations have tapped the long wavelengths of radar to pierce the cloud layers. Now, scientists have combined long-term radar observations of th...

The Steady State: When astronomers tried to overthrow the Big Bang

It all started with a Big Bang. Or maybe it didn’t. In the mid-20th century, most physicists were split on how the universe began — or if it even had a beginning at all. Today, scientists agree that the Big Bang theory best describes the ...
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