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Astronomy news. New! Earth-like extrasolar planet found; double helix nebula; supermassive black holes, astronomy articles, astronomy pictures. Updated daily.
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The golden anniversary of black-hole singularity

Thu, 10/01/2015 - 12:58
When a star collapses forming a black hole, a space-time singularity is created wherein the laws of Physics no longer work. In 1965 Sir Roger Penrose presented a theorem where he associated that singularity with so-called 'trapped surfaces' that shrink over time. That hypothesis -- one of the results of the general theory of relativity -- is now celebrating its anniversary.

High-powered telescope designed to explore origins of universe moving toward 'first light'

Wed, 09/30/2015 - 15:01
An effort to peer into the origins of the universe with the most effective instrument ever used in the effort is taking a big step forward, as scientists begin shipping a two-story-tall microwave telescope to its base in Chile.

Asteroids found to be the moon's main 'water supply'

Wed, 09/30/2015 - 11:04
Water reserves found on the moon are the result of asteroids acting as 'delivery vehicles' and not of falling comets as was previously thought. Using computer simulation, scientists have discovered that a large asteroid can deliver more water to the lunar surface than the cumulative fall of comets over a billion year period.

Dawn team shares new maps and insights about Ceres

Wed, 09/30/2015 - 10:45
Mysteries and insights about Ceres are being discussed this week at the European Planetary Science Conference in Nantes, France. NASA's Dawn spacecraft is providing scientists with tantalizing views and other data about the intriguing dwarf planet that they continue to analyze.

Mechanism of explosions and plasma jets associated with sunspot formation revealed

Wed, 09/30/2015 - 07:44
Sunspots are planet-sized conglomerates of bundles of intense magnetic field lines on the surface of the Sun. They are known to cause explosions (solar flares) which can directly impact our technological infrastructure. What astrophysical mechanisms are responsible for the formation of sunspots and how do they drive explosive events are important questions in our quest to understand the Sun's activity and its magnetic effect on Earth.

Walk the line: NASA studies physical performance after spaceflight

Tue, 09/29/2015 - 18:12
Walking an obstacle course on Earth is relatively easy. Walking an obstacle course after being in space for six months isn't so simple. NASA's Human Research Program is focusing on identifying key physical factors that contribute to a decrease in performance as we prepare for a journey to Mars.

Earth-like planets around small stars likely have protective magnetic fields, aiding chance for life

Tue, 09/29/2015 - 07:07
Earth-like planets orbiting close to small stars probably have magnetic fields that protect them from stellar radiation and help maintain surface conditions that could be conducive to life, according to research from astronomers.

Liquid water flows on today's Mars: NASA confirms evidence

Mon, 09/28/2015 - 09:41
New findings from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) provide the strongest evidence yet that liquid water flows intermittently on present-day Mars. Using an imaging spectrometer on MRO, researchers detected signatures of hydrated minerals on slopes where mysterious streaks are seen on the Red Planet. These darkish streaks appear to ebb and flow over time.

Rosetta’s mass spectrometer ROSINA detected argon at comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Sat, 09/26/2015 - 22:06
The mass spectrometer ROSINA on ESA’s comet probe Rosetta has for the first time detected the noble gas argon in the coma of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. This measurement adds to the debate about the role of comets in delivering various ingredients to Earth such as water.

'Fossils' of galaxies reveal the formation and evolution of massive galaxies

Fri, 09/25/2015 - 08:55
Astronomers have observed massive dead galaxies in the universe 4 billion years after the Big Bang. They discovered that the stellar content of these galaxies is strikingly similar to that of massive elliptical galaxies seen locally. Furthermore, they identified progenitors of these dead galaxies when they were forming stars at an earlier cosmic epoch, unveiling the formation and evolution of massive galaxies across 11 billion years of cosmic time.

Eleven-year cosmic search leads to black hole rethink

Thu, 09/24/2015 - 15:15
One hundred years since Einstein proposed gravitational waves as part of his general theory of relativity, an 11-year search has failed to detect them, casting doubt on our understanding of galaxies and black holes.

Shrapnel from an exploded star

Thu, 09/24/2015 - 10:44
Astronomers are comparing new images of the Veil Nebula, taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope in April 2015 with Hubble images taken in 1997, to study how the nebula has expanded since it was photographed over 18 years ago. The supernova that created the Veil Nebula would have been briefly visible to our very distant ancestors thousands of years ago as a bright "new star" in the northern sky.

Too big for its boots: Black hole is 30 times expected size

Thu, 09/24/2015 - 08:36
The central supermassive black hole of a recently discovered galaxy has been found to be far larger than should be possible, according to current theories of galactic evolution. New work shows that the black hole is much more massive than it should be, compared to the mass of the galaxy around it.

Discovery of potential gravitational lenses shows citizen science value

Thu, 09/24/2015 - 08:36
Citizen scientists have helped an international team of researchers to discover 29 new gravitational lens candidates in galaxies far away.

Total lunar eclipse will bring big red Moon to early morning sky

Wed, 09/23/2015 - 10:34
People across the western hemisphere may be surprised to see a rust-colored Moon in the sky on 28 September. Early that morning (the evening of the 27 September for observers in North and South America) will be this year's second total eclipse of the Moon. From the UK, this will be the first total lunar eclipse visible since 2008, and the last one visible in its entirety until 2019.

Hot, dense material surrounds O-type star with largest magnetic field known

Wed, 09/23/2015 - 08:26
Observations revealed that the unusually large magnetosphere around an O-type star called NGC 1624-2 contains a raging storm of extreme stellar winds and dense plasma that gobbles up X-rays before they can escape into space.

Messier 17: A cosmic rose with many names

Wed, 09/23/2015 - 08:25
This new image of the rose-colored star forming region Messier 17 was captured by the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-meter telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile. It is one of the sharpest images showing the entire nebula and not only reveals its full size but also retains fine detail throughout the cosmic landscape of gas clouds, dust and newborn stars.

Radio telescopes could spot stars hidden in the galactic center

Tue, 09/22/2015 - 11:58
The center of our Milky Way galaxy is a mysterious place. Not only is it thousands of light-years away, it's also cloaked in so much dust that most stars within are rendered invisible. Harvard researchers are proposing a new way to clear the fog and spot stars hiding there. They suggest looking for radio waves coming from supersonic stars.

Bugs in space: How microbes are surviving on astronauts

Tue, 09/22/2015 - 11:49
Bugs are winning out, and that's a good thing according to NASA's Human Research Program. As part of NASA's One-Year Mission, researchers are studying how microbes living on astronauts' skin, inside their bodies and on the International Space Station impact their health. To prepare for a journey to Mars, it is important to understand how long-duration spaceflight affects microorganisms because changes to this complex ecosystem could be detrimental to future missions.

Pairs of supermassive black holes in galaxies may be rarer than previously thought

Mon, 09/21/2015 - 14:14
Astronomers analyzing new images of 'X-shaped galaxies' conclude that their peculiar shape is less-commonly caused by mergers than was thought. This result could lower the level of gravitational waves coming from such galaxies.