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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: 2 hours 15 min ago

Living on the edge: Stars found far from galaxy center

Fri, 02/27/2015 - 11:11
Astronomers using data from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, have found a cluster of stars forming at the very edge of our Milky Way galaxy. This is the first time astronomers have found stars being born in such a remote location. Clouds of star-forming material at very high latitudes away from the galactic plane are rare and, in general, are not expected to form stars.

MUSE goes beyond Hubble: Looking deeply into the universe in 3-D

Thu, 02/26/2015 - 08:49
The MUSE instrument on ESO's Very Large Telescope has given astronomers the best ever three-dimensional view of the deep universe. After staring at the Hubble Deep Field South region for only 27 hours, the new observations reveal the distances, motions and other properties of far more galaxies than ever before in this tiny piece of the sky. They also go beyond Hubble and reveal previously invisible objects.

Pockets of calm protect molecules around a supermassive black hole

Thu, 02/26/2015 - 08:44
Researchers have discovered regions where certain organic molecules somehow endure the intense radiation near the supermassive black hole at the center of galaxy NGC 1068, also known to amateur stargazers as M77.

Monster black hole discovered at cosmic dawn

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 14:24
The discovery of the brightest quasar in the early universe, powered by the most massive black hole yet known at that time presents a puzzle to researchers: How could something so massive and luminous form so early in the universe, only 900 million years after the Big Bang?

'Bright spot' on Ceres has dimmer companion

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 11:11
Dwarf planet Ceres continues to puzzle scientists as NASA's Dawn spacecraft gets closer to being captured into orbit around the object. The latest images from Dawn, taken nearly 29,000 miles (46,000 kilometers) from Ceres, reveal that a bright spot that stands out in previous images lies close to yet another bright area.

SOHO sees something new near the sun: Comet survives close encounter

Tue, 02/24/2015 - 16:48
An unusual comet skimmed past the sun on Feb 18-21, 2015, as captured by the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO.

Mars exploration: NASA's MAVEN spacecraft completes first deep dip campaign

Thu, 02/19/2015 - 21:19
NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution has completed the first of five deep-dip maneuvers designed to gather measurements closer to the lower end of the Martian upper atmosphere.

Giving shape to black holes' intense winds

Thu, 02/19/2015 - 21:19
By looking at the speed of ambient gas spewing out from a well-known quasar, astronomers are gaining insight into how black holes and their host galaxies might have evolved at the same time.

Hubble gets best view of a circumstellar debris disk distorted by a planet

Thu, 02/19/2015 - 14:22
Astronomers have used the Hubble Space Telescope to take the most detailed picture to date of a large, edge-on, gas-and-dust disk encircling the 20-million-year-old star Beta Pictoris. The new image traces the disk in closer to the star to within about 650 million miles of the star.

A new view of the solar system: Astrophysical jets driven by the sun

Thu, 02/19/2015 - 11:56
New research suggests that the sun's magnetic field controls the large-scale shape of the heliosphere much more than expected. The new model shows that the magnetic field squeezes the solar wind along the sun's north-south axis, producing two jets. These jets are then dragged downstream by the flow of the interstellar medium -- the gases and dust that lie between star systems.

Does dark matter cause mass extinctions and geologic upheavals?

Thu, 02/19/2015 - 08:58
New research concludes that Earth's infrequent but predictable path around and through our Galaxy's disc may have a direct and significant effect on geological and biological phenomena occurring on Earth. Scientists conclude that movement through dark matter may perturb the orbits of comets and lead to additional heating in the Earth's core, both of which could be connected with mass extinction events.

For the first time, spacecraft catch solar shockwave in the act: 'Ultrarelativistic, killer electrons' made in 60 seconds

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 14:13
On Oct. 8, 2013, an explosion on the sun's surface sent a supersonic blast wave of solar wind out into space. This shockwave tore past Mercury and Venus, blitzing by the moon before streaming toward Earth. The shockwave struck a massive blow to the Earth's magnetic field, setting off a magnetized sound pulse around the planet.

Dark matter guides growth of supermassive black holes

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 12:34
Every massive galaxy has a black hole at its center, and the heftier the galaxy, the bigger its black hole. But why are the two related? After all, the black hole is millions of times smaller and less massive than its home galaxy. A new study of football-shaped collections of stars called elliptical galaxies finds that the invisible hand of dark matter somehow influences black hole growth.

Dust to dust: Disintegrating rocky exoplanet could unlock secrets to how our solar system was formed

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 07:31
Exciting new research has opened up the chance to find out what distant planets are made of. A team of astronomers have made observations which can help reveal the chemical makeup of a small rocky world orbiting a distant star about 1500 light years away from Earth, increasing our understanding of how planets, including ours, were formed.

Laser 'ruler' holds promise for hunting exoplanets

Tue, 02/17/2015 - 20:29
The hunt for Earth-like planets around distant stars could soon become a lot easier thanks to a technique developed by researchers in Germany.

With new data, satellite brings early universe into focus

Tue, 02/17/2015 - 13:12
The latest data release from the Planck space telescope offers insight into everything from the fabric of space to dark matter -- and may even still have a shot at detecting gravitational waves, says an expert.

Closest known flyby of star to our solar system: Dim star passed through Oort Cloud 70,000 years ago

Tue, 02/17/2015 - 11:41
Astronomers from the US, Europe, Chile and South Africa have determined that 70,000 years ago a recently discovered dim star is likely to have passed through the solar system's distant cloud of comets, the Oort Cloud. No other star is known to have ever approached our solar system this close -- five times closer than the current closest star, Proxima Centauri. They analyzed the velocity and trajectory of a low-mass star system nicknamed "Scholz's star."

Dawn captures sharper images of Ceres

Tue, 02/17/2015 - 11:11
Craters and mysterious bright spots are beginning to pop out in the latest images of Ceres from NASA's Dawn spacecraft. These images, taken Feb. 12 at a distance of 52,000 miles (83,000 kilometers) from the dwarf planet, pose intriguing questions for the science team to explore as the spacecraft nears its destination.

Mystery Mars plume baffles scientists

Mon, 02/16/2015 - 20:08
Plumes seen reaching high above the surface of Mars are causing a stir among scientists studying the atmosphere on the Red Planet. On two separate occasions in March and April 2012, amateur astronomers reported definite plume-like features developing on the planet.

Why do starburst galaxies 'burst'? Super stellar nurseries at heart of Sculptor galaxy

Sun, 02/15/2015 - 18:50
Astronomers used ALMA to dissect a cluster of star-forming clouds at the heart of NGC 253, one of the nearest starburst galaxies to the Milky Way.