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Updated: 1 hour 6 min ago

NASA Ames to launch science experiments to space station on SpaceX rocket

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 12:28
NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, will launch four life science experiments to the International Space Station aboard NASA's next commercial cargo resupply flight of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft. The research missions include a microbiology study of yeast, a fruit fly study designed and built by students, a plant biology investigation and the maiden voyage of NASA's new rodent research system.

Everything in moderation: Micro-8 to study regulating pathogens in space

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 12:26
Candida albicans, an opportunistic yeast pathogen and model organism for research, is common and usually doesn't damage our healthy personal ecosystem. However, when our immune system is stressed on Earth or in space, such as during long-duration space travel, C. albicans can grow out of control and potentially cause infections. Scientists want to address controlling these outbreaks with the next round of cellular growth experiments on the International Space Station -- Micro-8.

Dawn spacecraft operating normally after safe mode triggered

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 12:24
The Dawn spacecraft has resumed normal ion thrusting after the thrusting unexpectedly stopped and the spacecraft entered safe mode on September 11. That anomaly occurred shortly before a planned communication with NASA's Deep Space Network that morning. The spacecraft was not performing any special activities at the time.

NASA Mars spacecraft ready for Sept. 21 orbit insertion

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 12:22
NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft is nearing its scheduled Sept. 21 insertion into Martian orbit after completing a 10-month interplanetary journey of 442 million miles (711 million kilometers).

Pulse of a dead star powers intense gamma rays

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 12:08
NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, is helping to untangle the mystery of what powers high-energy gamma rays emanating from supernova. The observatory's high-energy X-ray eyes were able to peer into a particular site of powerful gamma rays and confirm the source: A spinning, dead star called a pulsar.

NASA's wind-watching ISS-RapidScat ready for launch

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 12:04
The fourth SpaceX cargo mission to the International Space Station (ISS) under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services contract, carrying the ISS-RapidScat scatterometer instrument designed and built by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, is scheduled to launch Saturday, Sept. 20, from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The one-day adjustment in the launch date was made to accommodate preparations of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and was coordinated with the station's partners and managers.

Comet landing mission: 'J' marks the spot for Rosetta's lander

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 12:00
The European Space Agency's Rosetta's lander, Philae, will target Site J, an intriguing region on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko that offers unique scientific potential, with hints of activity nearby, and minimum risk to the lander compared to the other candidate sites. The 220-pound (100-kilogram) lander is scheduled to reach the surface on November 11, where it will perform in-depth measurements to characterize the nucleus. Rosetta is an international mission spearheaded by the European Space Agency with support and instruments provided by NASA.

NASA releases IRIS footage of X-class flare

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 17:32
On Sept. 10, 2014, NASA's newest solar observatory, the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS, joined other telescopes to witness an X-class flare -- an example of one of the strongest solar flares -- on the sun.

Space: The final frontier ... open to the public

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 17:32
Historically, spaceflight has been reserved for the very healthy. Astronauts are selected for their ability to meet the highest physical standards to prepare them for any unknown challenges. However, with the advent of commercial spaceflight, average people can now fly. The aerospace medicine community has had little information about what medical conditions should be considered particularly risky in the spaceflight environment, as most medical conditions have never been studied for risk in space -- until now.

Smallest known galaxy with a supermassive black hole

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 13:16
Astronomers have discovered that an ultracompact dwarf galaxy harbors a supermassive black hole – the smallest galaxy known to contain such a massive light-sucking object. The finding suggests huge black holes may be more common than previously believed.

NASA chooses American companies to transport U.S. astronauts to International Space Station

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 08:46
U.S. astronauts once again will travel to and from the International Space Station from the United States on American spacecraft under groundbreaking contracts NASA announced Tuesday. The agency unveiled its selection of Boeing and SpaceX to transport U.S. crews to and from the space station using their CST-100 and Crew Dragon spacecraft, respectively, with a goal of ending the nation's sole reliance on Russia in 2017.

Violent origins of disc galaxies: Why Milky Way-like galaxies are so common in the universe

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 07:31
For decades scientists have believed that galaxy mergers usually result in the formation of elliptical galaxies. Now, for the the first time, researchers have found direct evidence that merging galaxies can instead form disc galaxies, and that this outcome is in fact quite common. This surprising result could explain why there are so many spiral galaxies like the Milky Way in the Universe.

219 million stars: Astronomers release most detailed catalog ever made of the visible Milky Way

Tue, 09/16/2014 - 08:48
A new catalog of the visible part of the northern part of our home Galaxy, the Milky Way, includes no fewer than 219 million stars. From dark sky sites on Earth, the Milky Way appears as a glowing band stretching across the sky. To astronomers, it is the disk of our own galaxy, a system stretching across 100,000 light-years, seen edge-on from our vantage point orbiting the Sun. The disk contains the majority of the stars in the galaxy, including the Sun, and the densest concentrations of dust and gas.

Clues to how giant elliptical galaxies move

Fri, 09/12/2014 - 08:53
New clues to how giant elliptical galaxies move have been discovered by an international team of astronomers. Elliptical galaxies have long been considered as essentially being made up of old stars that move randomly within them, like a swarm of bees. This has been challenged in many instances in the past ten-twenty years, but giant elliptical galaxies are still considered as a nearly round and non-rotating group of old stars by astronomers.

NASA identifying candidate asteroids for redirect mission

Thu, 09/11/2014 - 18:53
NASA is on the hunt to add potential candidate target asteroids for the agency's Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM). The robotic mission will identify, capture and redirect a near-Earth asteroid to a stable orbit around the moon. In the 2020s, astronauts will explore the asteroid and return to Earth with samples. This will test and advance new technologies and spaceflight experience needed to take humans to Mars in the 2030s.

First map of Rosetta's comet

Thu, 09/11/2014 - 18:27
Scientists have found that the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko -- the target of study for the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission -- can be divided into several regions, each characterized by different classes of features. High-resolution images of the comet reveal a unique, multifaceted world.

Unraveling mysteries of the Venusian atmosphere

Thu, 09/11/2014 - 18:07
Underscoring the vast differences between Earth and its neighbor Venus, new research shows a glimpse of giant holes in the electrically charged layer of the Venusian atmosphere, called the ionosphere. The observations point to a more complicated magnetic environment than previously thought -- which in turn helps us better understand this neighboring, rocky planet.

Alien life search: Spotting atmospheric chemistry of alien worlds devoid of life

Thu, 09/11/2014 - 18:07
Astronomers searching the atmospheres of alien worlds for gases that might be produced by life can't rely on the detection of just one type, such as oxygen, ozone, or methane, because in some cases these gases can be produced non-biologically, according to extensive simulations. Researchers have carefully simulated the atmospheric chemistry of alien worlds devoid of life thousands of times over a period of more than four years, varying the atmospheric compositions and star types.

'Hot Jupiters' provoke their own host suns to wobble

Thu, 09/11/2014 - 13:54
Blame the 'hot Jupiters.' These large, gaseous exoplanets can make their suns wobble when they wend their way through their own solar systems to snuggle up against their suns, according to new research.

Lurking bright blue star caught: The last piece of a supernova puzzle

Thu, 09/11/2014 - 09:47
Astronomers have found evidence of a hot binary companion star to a yellow supergiant star, which had become a bright supernova. Its existence had been predicted by the team. This finding provides the last link in a chain of observations that have so far supported the team's theoretical picture for this supernova.