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Astronomy news. New! Earth-like extrasolar planet found; double helix nebula; supermassive black holes, astronomy articles, astronomy pictures. Updated daily.
Updated: 6 hours 37 min ago

H.E.S.S. finds three extremely luminous gamma-ray sources

Fri, 01/23/2015 - 10:22
The High Energy Stereoscopic System telescopes have again demonstrated their excellent capabilities in searching for high-energy gamma rays.

Rosetta data reveals more surprises about comet 67P

Thu, 01/22/2015 - 14:54
As the Rosetta spacecraft orbits comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, an international team of scientists have discovered that the comet's atmosphere, or coma, is much less homogenous than expected and comet outgassing varies significantly over time.

Rosetta data give closest-ever look at a comet

Thu, 01/22/2015 - 14:54
On Nov. 12, 2014, the Rosetta mission's Philae lander touched down on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. While this achievement gained lots of headlines, it was only the beginning for researchers back on Earth. New data provides the closest and most detailed look at a comet that scientists have ever seen.

Rosetta Comet 'pouring' more water into space

Thu, 01/22/2015 - 14:30
There has been a significant increase in the amount of water "pouring" out of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the comet on which the Rosetta mission's Philae lander touched down in November 2014. The 2.5-mile-wide (4-kilometer) comet was releasing the earthly equivalent of 40 ounces (1.2 liters) of water into space every second at the end of August 2014.

Watching the birth of a comet magnetosphere

Thu, 01/22/2015 - 14:18
Astronomers have shown what happens when a magnetosphere forms round a comet. The RPC-ICA instrument onboard the Rosetta spacecraft has been watching the early stages of how a magnetosphere forms around Comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko as it moves closer to the Sun along its orbit and begins to interact with the solar wind. As the comet gets warmer, volatile substances, mainly water, evaporate from the surface and form an atmosphere around the comet. The Sun's ultraviolet radiation and collisions with the solar wind ionizes some of the comet's atmosphere. The newly formed ions are affected by the solar wind electric and magnetic fields and can be accelerated to high speeds. When the comet gets close enough to the Sun, its atmosphere becomes so dense and ionized that it becomes electrically conductive. When this happens, the atmosphere starts to resist the solar wind and a comet's magnetosphere is born - a region surrounding the comet that is shielded from the solar wind.

Gas variations are suggestive of seasons on comet Chury

Thu, 01/22/2015 - 14:18
Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko continues to reveal more of its secrets: Researchers have detected considerable variations in the gas escaping from the comet. This could amount to seasonal changes on the tiny celestial body. Meanwhile, the camera OSIRIS on board the Rosetta comet probe is revealing new details of the surface of Chury.

Black hole on a diet creates a 'changing look' quasar

Thu, 01/22/2015 - 11:45
Astronomers have identified the first 'changing look' quasar, a gleaming object in deep space that appears to have its own dimmer switch. The discovery may offer a glimpse into the life story of the universe's great beacons.

Telescope to seek dust where other Earths may lie

Thu, 01/22/2015 - 09:04
The NASA-funded Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer, or LBTI, has completed its first study of dust in the "habitable zone" around a star, opening a new door to finding planets like Earth. Dust is a natural byproduct of the planet-formation process, but too much of it can block our view of planets.

NASA, Microsoft collaboration will allow scientists to 'work on Mars'

Thu, 01/22/2015 - 08:58
NASA and Microsoft have teamed up to develop software called OnSight, a new technology that will enable scientists to work virtually on Mars using wearable technology called Microsoft HoloLens.

Astronomers to map the universe with largest radio telescope ever built

Wed, 01/21/2015 - 11:47
An international team of scientists have joined forces to lay the foundations for an experiment of truly astronomical proportions: putting together the biggest map of the Universe ever made. The experiment will combine signals from hundreds of radio dishes to make cosmic atlas. The international team of researchers has now set out their plans for the mammoth survey.

In theory, the Milky Way could be a 'galactic transport system'

Wed, 01/21/2015 - 08:36
Based on the latest evidence and theories our galaxy could be a huge wormhole and, if that were true, it could be "stable and navigable." Astrophysicists combined the equations of general relativity with an extremely detailed map of the distribution of dark matter in the Milky Way when proposing this possibility.

Technique reveals age of planetary materials

Tue, 01/20/2015 - 14:28
The key to understanding the geologic history of the Solar System is knowing the ages of planetary rocks. Researchers have developed an instrument that is not only capable of dating rocks, but also is composed entirely of technology that can be miniaturized for spaceflight.

Dawn spacecraft delivers new image of dwarf planet Ceres

Mon, 01/19/2015 - 11:31
As NASA's Dawn spacecraft closes in on Ceres, new images show the dwarf planet at 27 pixels across, about three times better than the calibration images taken in early December. These are the first in a series of images that will be taken for navigation purposes during the approach to Ceres.

Extremely short, sharp flash of radio waves from unknown source in the universe, caught as it was happening

Mon, 01/19/2015 - 08:32
A strange phenomenon has been observed by astronomers right as it was happening -- a 'fast radio burst'. The eruption is described as an extremely short, sharp flash of radio waves from an unknown source in the universe.

Machines teach astronomers about stars

Fri, 01/16/2015 - 14:56
Astronomers are enlisting the help of machines to sort through thousands of stars in our galaxy and learn their sizes, compositions and other basic traits. The research is part of the growing field of machine learning, in which computers learn from large data sets, finding patterns that humans might not otherwise see.

Asteroid to fly by Earth safely on January 26

Fri, 01/16/2015 - 14:44
An asteroid, designated 2004 BL86, will safely pass about three times the distance of Earth to the moon on January 26. From its reflected brightness, astronomers estimate that the asteroid is about a third of a mile (0.5 kilometers) in size. The flyby of 2004 BL86 will be the closest by any known space rock this large until asteroid 1999 AN10 flies past Earth in 2027.

NASA and ESA celebrate 10 years since Huygens probe landing on Saturn's moon Titan

Fri, 01/16/2015 - 14:40
Ten years ago, an explorer from Earth parachuted into the haze of an alien moon toward an uncertain fate. After a gentle descent lasting more than two hours, it landed with a thud on a frigid floodplain, surrounded by icy cobblestones. With this feat, the Huygens probe accomplished humanity's first landing on a moon in the outer solar system. Huygens was safely on Titan, the largest moon of Saturn.

NEOWISE: A yearlong look at the sky

Fri, 01/16/2015 - 14:38
NASA's Near-Earth Object Wide-field Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) spacecraft discovered and characterized 40 near-Earth objects (NEOs) in the first year after the mission was re-started in December 2013. Eight of the discoveries have been classified as potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs), based on their size and how close their orbits could come to Earth's orbit.

HiRISE camera spots long-lost space probe on Mars

Fri, 01/16/2015 - 10:44
The Beagle 2 Mars Lander, thought lost on Mars since 2003, has been found partially deployed on the surface of the planet, ending the mystery of what happened to the mission more than a decade ago.

Three nearly Earth-size planets found orbiting nearby star: One in 'Goldilocks' zone

Fri, 01/16/2015 - 09:30
NASA's Kepler Space Telescope has discovered a star with three planets only slightly larger than Earth. The outermost planet orbits in the 'Goldilocks' zone -- where surface temperatures could be moderate enough for liquid water and perhaps life to exist. The star ranks among the top 10 nearest stars known to have transiting planets. The star's close enough for astronomers to study the planets' atmospheres to determine if they could possibly be conducive to life.