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Updated: 10 hours 56 min ago

Hubble spots possible water plumes erupting on Jupiter's moon Europa

Mon, 09/26/2016 - 2:29pm
Astronomers have imaged what may be water vapor plumes erupting off the surface of Jupiter's moon Europa. This finding bolsters other Hubble observations suggesting the icy moon erupts with high altitude water vapor plumes.

New low-mass objects could help refine planetary evolution

Mon, 09/26/2016 - 11:18am
When a star is young, it is often still surrounded by a primordial rotating disk of gas and dust, from which planets can form. Astronomers like to find such disks because they might be able to catch the star partway through the planet formation process, but it's highly unusual to find such disks around brown dwarfs or stars with very low masses. New work has discovered four new low-mass objects surrounded by disks.

X-rays that don't come from any known source

Mon, 09/26/2016 - 10:47am
Space is filled with types of light we can't see -- from infrared signals released by hot stars and galaxies, to the cosmic microwave background. Some of this invisible light that fills space takes the form of X-rays, the source of which has been hotly contended over the past few decades. A new study confirms some ideas about where these X-rays come from, shedding light on our solar neighborhood's early history. But it also reveals a new mystery -- an entire group of X-rays that don't come from any known source.

How to merge two black holes in a simple way

Mon, 09/26/2016 - 9:59am
The merger of two black holes, such as the one that produced the gravitational waves discovered by the LIGO Observatory, is considered an extremely complex process that can only be simulated by the world's most powerful supercomputers. However, two theoretical physicists have demonstrated that what occurs on the space-time boundary of the two merging objects can be explained using simple equations, at least when a giant black hole collides with a tiny black hole.

Colorful demise of a sun-like star

Fri, 09/23/2016 - 3:49pm
Our sun will eventually burn out and shroud itself with stellar debris, but not for another 5 billion years.

ALMA Explores the Hubble Ultra Deep Field: Deepest ever millimeter observations of early Universe

Thu, 09/22/2016 - 2:16pm
International teams of astronomers have used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to explore the distant corner of the Universe first revealed in the iconic images of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF). These new ALMA observations are significantly deeper and sharper than previous surveys at millimetre wavelengths. They clearly show how the rate of star formation in young galaxies is closely related to their total mass in stars. They also trace the previously unknown abundance of star-forming gas at different points in time, providing new insights into the “Golden Age” of galaxy formation approximately 10 billion years ago.

Hubble finds planet orbiting pair of stars

Thu, 09/22/2016 - 10:07am
Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, and a trick of nature, have confirmed the existence of a planet orbiting two stars in the system OGLE-2007-BLG-349, located 8,000 light-years away towards the center of our galaxy. The Hubble observations represent the first time such a three-body system has been confirmed using the gravitational microlensing technique.

Twin jets pinpoint the heart of an active galaxy

Wed, 09/21/2016 - 5:01pm
Two particle jets shoot out from the heart of active galaxy NGC 1052 at the speed of light, apparently originating in the vicinity of a massive black hole. Researchers have now measured the magnetic fields in this area. They observed the bright, very compact structure of just two light days in size using a global ensemble of millimeter-wavelength telescopes. The magnetic field value recorded at the event horizon of the black hole was between 0.02 and 8.3 tesla. The team concludes that the magnetic fields provide enough magnetic energy to power the twin jets.

NASA scientists find 'impossible' cloud on Titan -- again

Wed, 09/21/2016 - 12:38pm
The puzzling appearance of an ice cloud seemingly out of thin air has prompted NASA scientists to suggest that a different process than previously thought -- possibly similar to one seen over Earth's poles -- could be forming clouds on Saturn's moon Titan.

In exploring the ‘now,’ new theory links flow of time with Big Bang

Wed, 09/21/2016 - 12:12pm
A simple question from his wife -- Does physics really allow people to travel back in time? -- propelled a physicist on a quest to resolve a fundamental problem that had puzzled him throughout his 45-year career: Why does the arrow of time flow inexorably toward the future, constantly creating new "nows"?

Feeding a Mars mission: The challenges of growing plants in space

Wed, 09/21/2016 - 10:39am
Plants will play a critical role in the survival of human beings on long-duration space missions, such as a mission to Mars.  However, as a new paper shows, many challenges need to be addressed if astronauts are to successfully grow enough food on board spacecraft and on other planets.

In rotating galaxies, distribution of normal matter precisely determines gravitational acceleration

Wed, 09/21/2016 - 8:50am
Researchers have found a significant new relationship in spiral and irregular galaxies: the acceleration observed in rotation curves tightly correlates with the gravitational acceleration expected from the visible mass only. The discovery may alter the understanding of dark matter and the internal dynamics of galaxies.

Galactic fireworks illuminate monster hydrogen blob in space

Wed, 09/21/2016 - 8:50am
An international team of researchers using ALMA and other telescopes has discovered the power source illuminating a so-called Lyman-alpha Blob -- a rare, brightly glowing, and enormous concentration of gas in the distant universe.

New ways to track stars eaten by black holes

Mon, 09/19/2016 - 9:49pm
Astrophysicists have broken new ground in ways to observe a star swallowed by a black hole, promising to help paint a clearer picture of this cosmic phenomenon.

Unusual short burst of X-rays coming from slowest-spinning neutron star

Mon, 09/19/2016 - 1:25pm
A new record-holder for the slowest spinning neutron star has been found thanks to clues first detected by NASA's Swift space observatory. Spinning neutron stars are the class of stars with the most powerful magnetic fields in the universe. Swift's X-Ray Telescope captured a short burst of unusual X-rays on June 22, 2016 coming from an object roughly 9,000 light-years from Earth.

Cassini begins epic final year at Saturn

Thu, 09/15/2016 - 5:32pm
After more than 12 years studying Saturn, its rings and moons, NASA's Cassini spacecraft has entered the final year of its epic voyage. The conclusion of the historic scientific odyssey is planned for September 2017, but not before the spacecraft completes a daring two-part endgame.

Echoes of black holes eating stars discovered

Thu, 09/15/2016 - 2:26pm
A black hole destroying a star, an event astronomers call 'stellar tidal disruption,' releases an enormous amount of energy, brightening the surroundings in an event called a flare. Two new studies characterize tidal disruption flares by studying how surrounding dust absorbs and re-emits their light, like echoes. This approach allowed scientists to measure the energy of flares from stellar tidal disruption events more precisely than ever before.

Some ancient Mars lakes formed long after others

Thu, 09/15/2016 - 2:20pm
Lakes and snowmelt-fed streams on Mars formed much later than previously thought possible, according to new findings. The recently discovered lakes and streams appeared roughly a billion years after an earlier era of wet conditions on ancient Mars. These results suggest the surface conditions at this later time may also have been suitable for microbial life on the Red Planet.

Gaia’s billion star maps hints at treasures to come

Thu, 09/15/2016 - 2:19pm
The first catalog of more than a billion stars from ESA's Gaia satellite was just published -- the largest all-sky survey of celestial objects to date.

Astronomers capture best view ever of disintegrating comet

Thu, 09/15/2016 - 1:24pm
Astronomers have captured the sharpest, most detailed observations of a comet breaking apart 67 million miles from Earth, using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. The images suggest that the roughly 4.5-billion-year-old comet, named 332P/Ikeya-Murakami, or comet 332P, may be spinning so fast that material is ejected from its surface. The resulting debris is now scattered along a 3,000-mile-long trail, larger than the width of the continental United States.