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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.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Hubble finds hints the Sombrero galaxy had a turbulent past

New data from the Hubble Space Telescope reveals the popular Sombrero galaxy may have had a more violent past than previously thought. Based on the number of metal-rich stars Hubble spotted in the galaxy’s extended halo, astronomers think the s...

Watch: NASA tests motor used for Artemis missions

NASA is working to ensure astronauts’ safety with their final test of their attitude control motor, which is designed to steer astronauts to safety in the event of a rocket malfunction during takeoff. The altitude control motor, made by Nort...
Wednesday, February 26, 2020

China's Chang'e-4 mission peers beneath the lunar farside's surface

New data from the first spacecraft to land softly on the lunar farside is offering up fresh details about the part of the Moon that's hidden from view on Earth. The Chinese rover found that the ground beneath it is similar to what’s found on ou...

Katherine Johnson: NASA mathematician and much-needed role model

Katherine Johnson, who has died at the age of 101, was an amazing woman. But up until a few years ago, hardly anyone had heard of her or her achievements. She was a mathematician and she worked for NASA. But on paper neither of those facts would make...
Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Is there gravity in space?

A quick YouTube search reveals a plethora of floating astronaut videos. They can spin in the air, juggle bubbles of water and their hair looks ridiculous. It certainly appears that there’s no gravity in space — but appearances are deceivi...

Hubble captures a smeared fingerprint of an "anemic" galaxy

Looking at this face-on view of the galaxy NGC 4689, as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope, you can barely tell it's a spiral galaxy. Instead, thanks to its relatively dim spiral arms, NGC 4689 looks more like a smeared cosmic fingerprint — esp...
Monday, February 24, 2020

NASA's InSight lander detects 174 'marsquakes,' proving Mars is seismically active

Not far from Mars’ equator, a series of strange fissures rip deep into the Red Planet’s surface. The cracks of Cerberus Fossae run for hundreds of miles, cutting through craters, hills, and everything in their path. Relatively young looki...

How do black holes form?

The most well-understood black holes are created when a massive star reaches the end of its life and implodes, collapsing in on itself. A black hole takes up zero space, but does have mass — originally, most of the mass that used to be a star. ...
Friday, February 21, 2020

The Sky This Week from February 21 to March 1

Friday, February 21 February evenings offer a great opportunity to view the zodiacal light. From the Northern Hemisphere, late winter and early spring are the best times of year to observe this elusive glow after sunset. It appears slightly fainter t...

Could alien life hitchhike to Earth on space rocks from other stars?

Did life on Earth come from Mars, or perhaps even another star system? For generations, some astronomers have speculated about whether our planet was pollinated with an alien seed. This theory, called panspermia, suggests that primitive life can tra...
Thursday, February 20, 2020

Proxima Centauri: The closest exoplanet to Earth

Astronomers are finding new exoplanets nearly every day. But this particular answer probably won’t change, because astronomers have already found two planets orbiting Proxima Centauri, the closest star to our Sun. One of them was discovered in...
Wednesday, February 19, 2020

How do astronomers find exoplanets?

Exoplanets, by definition, exist outside our solar system, orbiting other stars. That means they’re pretty far away. Telescopes, even top-notch ones like Hubble, can’t image anything as small as a planet outside our solar system. Even Nep...
Monday, February 17, 2020

Controversial simulation creates galaxies without using dark matter

For the first time, a group of cosmologists say they’ve created virtual galaxies inside their computers without any dark matter. Critics of dark matter see it as a win for a controversial model of how our universe formed called MOND, or Modifie...
Friday, February 14, 2020

When Betelgeuse goes supernova, what will it look like from Earth?

If you stargaze on a clear winter night, it’s hard to miss the constellation Orion the Hunter, with his shield in one arm and the other arm stretched high to the heavens. A bright red dot called Betelgeuse marks Orion’s shoulder, and this...

How do stars create (and release) their energy?

You don’t have to be a scientist to know that stars shine. It’s what they’re known for. But how and why they shine was unknown for thousands of years, and only became clear in the 20th century, as humans puzzled out the power of nuc...

Dimming Betelgeuse is now also bent out of shape, new surface images show

Betelgeuse — a red supergiant located roughly 700 light-years away in the constellation Orion the Hunter — has been dimming over the last few months. But now, astronomers have found it's also changing shape. In a new image captured with ...

The Sky This Week from February 14 to 23

Friday, February 14 In what seems a fitting tribute, the planet named after the Roman goddess of love shines brilliantly in the evening sky on Valentine’s Day. Venus gleams at magnitude –4.2 and shows up easily in the west-southwest withi...
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