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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 52 min ago

Dark matter even darker than once thought

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 15:22
Astronomers have studied how dark matter in clusters of galaxies behaves when the clusters collide. The results show that dark matter interacts with itself even less than previously thought, and narrows down the options for what this mysterious substance might be.

Best view yet of dusty cloud passing galactic center black hole

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 08:59
The best observations so far of the dusty gas cloud G2 confirm that it made its closest approach to the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way in May 2014 and has survived the experience. The new result shows that the object appears not to have been significantly stretched. It is most likely to be a young star with a massive core that is still accreting material.

A new spin on Saturn's peculiar rotation

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 15:23
The precise measurement of Saturn's rotation has presented a great challenge to scientists, as different parts of this sweltering ball of hydrogen and helium rotate at different speeds whereas its rotation axis and magnetic pole are aligned. A new method leads to a new determination of Saturn's rotation period and offers insight into the internal structure of the planet, its weather patterns, and the way it formed.

Supermassive black hole clears star-making gas from galaxy's core

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 15:18
A new study provides the first observational evidence that a supermassive black hole at the center of a large galaxy can power huge, wide-angled outpourings of material from deep inside the galaxy's core. These outflows remove massive quantities of star-making gas, thus influencing the size, shape and overall fate of the host galaxy.

Explosions of Jupiter's aurora linked to extraordinary planet-moon interaction

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 11:08
New observations of the planet's extreme ultraviolet emissions show that bright explosions of Jupiter's aurora likely also get kicked off by the planet-moon interaction, not by solar activity.

NASA satellites catch 'growth spurt' from newborn protostar

Tue, 03/24/2015 - 18:36
Using data from orbiting observatories and ground-based facilities, astronomers have discovered an outburst from a star thought to be in the earliest phase of its development. The eruption, scientists say, reveals a sudden accumulation of gas and dust by an exceptionally young protostar known as HOPS 383.

NASA studies the sun in soft x-rays

Tue, 03/24/2015 - 18:36
At any given moment, our sun emits a range of light waves far more expansive than what our eyes alone can see: from visible light to extreme ultraviolet to soft and hard X-rays. In 2012 and 2013, a detector was launched on a sounding rocket for a 15 minute trip to look at a range of sunlight previously not well-observed: soft X-rays.

Wandering Jupiter accounts for our unusual solar system

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 16:22
Jupiter may have swept through the early solar system like a wrecking ball, destroying a first generation of inner planets before retreating into its current orbit, according to a new study. The findings help explain why our solar system is so different from the hundreds of other planetary systems that astronomers have discovered in recent years.

Chemical fingerprints of ancient supernovae found

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 13:28
A search of nearby galaxies for their oldest stars has uncovered two stars in the Sculptor dwarf galaxy that were born shortly after the galaxy formed, approximately 13 billion years ago. The unusual chemical content of the stars may have originated in a single supernova explosion from the first generation of Sculptor stars.

Colliding stars explain enigmatic 17th century explosion

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 13:22
New observations made with APEX and other telescopes reveal that the star that European astronomers saw appear in the sky in 1670 was not a nova, but a much rarer, violent breed of stellar collision.

Comet probe detects 'most wanted molecule': Nitrogen gas

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 15:06
ESA's comet probe Rosetta has for the first time ever measured nitrogen gas at a comet, providing clues to the early stages of the formation of our solar system.

Milky Way's center unveils supernova 'dust factory'

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 14:34
Sifting through the center of the Milky Way galaxy, astronomers have made the first direct observations -- using an infrared telescope aboard a modified Boeing 747 -- of cosmic building-block dust resulting from an ancient supernova.

More than a million stars are forming in a mysterious dusty gas cloud in a nearby galaxy

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 14:55
An extremely hot, dusty cloud of molecular gases is forming more than a million young stars in a tiny nearby galaxy, astronomers report.

Extent of moon's giant volcanic eruption is revealed

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 10:12
Scientists have produced a new map of the Moon's most unusual volcano showing that its explosive eruption spread debris over an area much greater than previously thought. A team of astronomers and geologists studied an area of the lunar surface in the Compton-Belkovich Volcanic Complex.

Planets in the habitable zone around most stars, researchers calculate

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 07:45
Astronomers have discovered thousands of exoplanets using the Kepler satellite. By analyzing these planetary systems, researchers have calculated the probability for the number of stars that might have planets in the habitable zone. The calculations show that billions of stars in the Milky Way will have one to three planets in the habitable zone, where there is the potential for liquid water and where life could exist.

Time lapse snapshots of a nova's fading light

Mon, 03/16/2015 - 13:49
Scientists have, for the first time, examined a detailed "time lapse" X-ray image of the expansion of a classical nova explosion using the GK Persei nova -- a binary star system which underwent a nova explosion in 1901. Through this work, they hope to gain a better understanding of the expansion of gases in the universe, including not only in classical novae but also in supernovae -- tremendous stellar explosions that are believed to be responsible for the creation of heavy elements such as uranium which cannot be produced by normal stars.

A second minor planet may possess Saturn-like rings: Features around Chiron may signal rings, jets, or a shell of dust

Mon, 03/16/2015 - 12:27
There are only five bodies in our solar system that are known to bear rings. The most obvious is the planet Saturn; to a lesser extent, rings of gas and dust also encircle Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune. The fifth member of this haloed group is Chariklo, one of a class of minor planets called centaurs: small, rocky bodies that possess qualities of both asteroids and comets. Scientists only recently detected Chariklo's ring system -- a surprising finding, as it had been thought that centaurs are relatively dormant. Now scientists have detected a possible ring system around a second centaur, Chiron.

Solar eclipse echoes the fantastic astronomical events which took place during the time of Richard III

Mon, 03/16/2015 - 09:26
Historical astronomical data of the time of Richard III and the Battle of Bosworth have been explored by historians. Richard III’s corpse could have been publicly displayed beneath a blood moon following his defeat at the Battle of Bosworth. A solar eclipse would have darkened the sky 530-years-ago today (March 16) as Richard III’s wife Anne Neville died.

Hubble source catalog: One-stop shopping for astronomers

Fri, 03/13/2015 - 13:07
Astronomers have created a new master catalog of astronomical objects called the Hubble Source Catalog. The catalog provides one-stop shopping for measurements of objects observed with NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.

NASA spacecraft in Earth’s orbit, preparing to study magnetic reconnection

Fri, 03/13/2015 - 11:28
Following a successful launch at 10:44 p.m. EDT Thursday, NASA's four Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) spacecraft are positioned in Earth's orbit to begin the first space mission dedicated to the study of a phenomenon called magnetic reconnection. This process is thought to be the catalyst for some of the most powerful explosions in our solar system.