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Updated: 1 day 9 hours ago

Ingredient of life found around infant Sun-like stars

Thu, 06/08/2017 - 7:29am
ALMA has observed stars like the Sun at a very early stage in their formation and found traces of methyl isocyanate -- a chemical building block of life. This is the first ever detection of this prebiotic molecule towards solar-type protostars, the sort from which our Solar System evolved. The discovery could help astronomers understand how life arose on Earth.

Celestial boondocks: Study supports the idea we live in a void

Wed, 06/07/2017 - 2:29pm
A new study not only firms up the idea that we exist in one of the holes of the Swiss cheese structure of the cosmos, but helps ease the apparent disagreement between different measurements of the Hubble Constant, the unit cosmologists use to describe the rate at which the universe is expanding today.

Century-old relativity experiment used to measure a white dwarf's mass

Wed, 06/07/2017 - 2:26pm
Astronomers have used the sharp vision of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to repeat a century-old test of Einstein’s general theory of relativity. The team measured the mass of white dwarf Stein 2051 B, the burned-out remnant of a normal star, by seeing how much it deflects the light from a background star. The gravitational microlensing method data provide a solid estimate of the white dwarf’s mass and yield insights into theories of the structure and composition of the burned-out star.

Jackpot! Cosmic magnifying-glass effect captures universe's brightest galaxies

Tue, 06/06/2017 - 3:57pm
Boosted by natural magnifying lenses in space, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has captured unique close-up views of the universe's brightest infrared galaxies, which are as much as 10,000 times more luminous than our Milky Way.

Mini-flares potentially jeopardize habitability of planets circling red dwarf stars

Tue, 06/06/2017 - 12:33pm
Solar flares and associated eruptions can trigger auroras on Earth or, more ominously, damage satellites and power grids. Could flares on cool, red dwarf stars cause even more havoc to orbiting planets, even rendering them uninhabitable? To help answer that question, astronomers sought to find out how many flares such stars typically unleash.

Hubble's tale of two exoplanets: Nature vs. nurture

Mon, 06/05/2017 - 3:45pm
Is it a case of nature versus nurture when it comes to two 'cousin' exoplanets? In a unique experiment, scientists used NASA's Hubble Space Telescope to study two 'hot Jupiter' exoplanets. Because these planets are virtually the same size and temperature, and orbit around nearly identical stars at the same distance, the team hypothesized that their atmospheres should be alike. What they found surprised them.

Collateral damage from cosmic rays increases cancer risks for Mars astronauts

Mon, 06/05/2017 - 3:02pm
The cancer risk for a human mission to Mars has effectively doubled following a study predicting a dramatic increase in the disease for astronauts traveling to the red planet or on long-term missions outside the protection of Earth's magnetic field. The new predictive model shows radiation from cosmic rays extends from damaged to otherwise healthy 'bystander' cells.

Dying stars give newborn black holes a swift kick, study shows

Mon, 06/05/2017 - 12:41pm
Investigators reanalyzed the merging black holes detected by LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory) on Dec. 26, 2016, and drew new insights about what happens when massive stars die and transform into black holes.

A planet hotter than most stars

Mon, 06/05/2017 - 11:09am
A newly discovered Jupiter-like world is so hot that it’s stretching the definition of the word “planet.”

ALMA returns to Boomerang Nebula

Mon, 06/05/2017 - 11:09am
A companion star crashing into a red giant star may explain the chilling power to the Boomerang Nebula.

Study estimates amount of water needed to carve Martian valleys

Mon, 06/05/2017 - 8:53am
A new study calculates the amount of water needed to carve the ancient network of valleys on Mars and concludes the planet's surface was once much more watery than previously thought. The study bolsters the idea that Mars had a warmer climate and active hydrologic cycle, with water evaporating from an ancient ocean, returning to the surface as rainfall and eroding the extensive network of valleys.

Hubble 'traps' a vermin galaxy

Fri, 06/02/2017 - 2:38pm
A new Hubble image shows a distant galaxy as it begins to align with and pass behind a star sitting nearer to us within the Milky Way.

Are dense star clusters the origin of the gravitational waves discovered by LIGO?

Fri, 06/02/2017 - 11:28am
Much to their surprise, scientists are finding dozens of black holes deep within densely packed collections of stars called globular clusters.

Cold brown dwarf discovered close to our solar system

Fri, 06/02/2017 - 11:28am
A new citizen-science tool released earlier this year to help astronomers pinpoint new worlds lurking in the outer reaches of our solar system has already led to a discovery: a brown dwarf a little more than 100 light years away from the Sun. Just six days after the launch of the Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 website, four users alerted the science team to the curious object, whose presence has since been confirmed via telescope.

Scientists measure black hole's tilt, spin for clues to how massive stars die

Thu, 06/01/2017 - 3:18pm
Scientists working with the LIGO Scientific Collaboration measured and interpreted the spin and alignment of a newly formed black hole detected on Jan. 4 by LIGO. The team also simulated the gravitational wave signal produced in the collision that formed the new black hole.

Rover findings indicate stratified lake on ancient Mars

Thu, 06/01/2017 - 3:18pm
A long-lasting lake on ancient Mars provided stable environmental conditions that differed significantly from one part of the lake to another, according to a comprehensive look at findings from the first three-and-a-half years of NASA's Curiosity rover mission.

LIGO detects gravitational waves for third time

Thu, 06/01/2017 - 12:39pm
The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory has made a third detection of gravitational waves, ripples in space and time, demonstrating that a new window in astronomy has been firmly opened. As was the case with the first two detections, the waves were generated when two black holes collided to form a larger black hole.

Surface gravity on many exoplanets similar to that of Earth, study finds

Thu, 06/01/2017 - 9:55am
A recent statistical study has revealed that exoplanets with a mass of between 1 and 100 times the mass of Earth have a surface gravity surprisingly similar to terrestrial gravity.

In a cosmic hit-and-run, icy Saturn moon may have flipped

Wed, 05/31/2017 - 2:36pm
Enceladus -- a large icy, oceanic moon of Saturn -- may have flipped, the possible victim of an out-of-this-world wallop. While combing through data collected by NASA's Cassini mission during flybys of Enceladus, astronomers have found the first evidence that the moon's axis has reoriented, according to new research published in Icarus.

Frost on moon's surface: New evidence

Wed, 05/31/2017 - 11:07am
Scientists using data from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter have identified bright areas in craters near the moon's south pole that are cold enough to have frost present on the surface.