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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: 3 hours 59 min ago

Shock Collision Inside Black Hole Jet

Wed, 05/27/2015 - 13:39
Astronomers have discovered for the first time a rear-end collision between two high-speed knots of ejected matter from a supermassive black hole. This discovery was made while piecing together a time-lapse movie of a plasma jet blasted from a supermassive black hole inside galaxy 3C 264, located 260 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Leo.

What our solar system looked like as a ‘toddler’

Wed, 05/27/2015 - 09:53
Astronomers have identified a young planetary system which may aid in understanding how our own solar system formed and developed billions of years ago. 

Similarities between aurorae on Mars and Earth

Wed, 05/27/2015 - 09:26
Astronomers have for the first time predicted the occurrence of aurorae visible to the naked eye on a planet other than Earth.

Supernovas help 'clean' galaxies

Tue, 05/26/2015 - 15:57
Astronomers have found that the black holes located at the cores of galaxies launch fountains of charged particles, which can stir up gas throughout the galaxy and temporarily interrupt star formation. But unless something intervenes, the gas will eventually cool and start forming stars again.

Hubble revisits tangled NGC 6240

Mon, 05/25/2015 - 10:08
NGC 6240 lies 400 million light-years away in the constellation of Ophiuchus (The Serpent Holder). This galaxy has an elongated shape with branching wisps, loops and tails. This mess of gas, dust and stars bears more than a passing resemblance to a butterfly and a lobster. New research is untangling the reasons for its odd shape.

Auroras on Mars

Sat, 05/23/2015 - 10:21
One day, when humans go to Mars, they might find that, occasionally, the Red Planet has green skies. NASA's MAVEN spacecraft has detected evidence of widespread auroras in Mars's northern hemisphere. Unlike Earth, Mars does not have a global magnetic field that envelops the entire planet. Instead, Mars has umbrella-shaped magnetic fields that sprout out of the ground like mushrooms, here and there, but mainly in the southern hemisphere. These umbrellas are remnants of an ancient global field that decayed billions of years ago.

Most luminous galaxy in universe discovered

Thu, 05/21/2015 - 13:35
A remote galaxy shining brightly with infrared light equal to more than 300 trillion suns has been discovered using data from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE. The galaxy, which belongs to a new class of objects recently discovered by WISE -- nicknamed extremely luminous infrared galaxies, or ELIRGs -- is the most luminous galaxy found to date.

One-of-a-kind star discovered, nicknamed 'Nasty'

Thu, 05/21/2015 - 13:35
Astronomers have spent decades trying to determine the oddball behavior of an aging star nicknamed "Nasty 1" residing in our Milky Way galaxy. Looking at the star using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers had expected to see a bipolar outflow of twin lobes of gas from the star. The astronomers were surprised, however, to find a pancake-shaped disk of gas encircling the star. The vast disk is nearly 1,000 times the diameter of our solar system.

Galaxy’s snacking habits revealed

Wed, 05/20/2015 - 19:38
Astronomers have caught a greedy galaxy gobbling on its neighbors and leaving crumbs of evidence about its dietary past.

Supernova ignition surprises scientists

Wed, 05/20/2015 - 13:36
Scientists have captured the early death throes of supernovae for the first time and found that the universe's benchmark explosions are much more varied than expected.The scientists used the Kepler space telescope to photograph three type 1a supernovae in the earliest stages of ignition. They then tracked the explosions in detail to full brightness around three weeks later, and the subsequent decline over the next few months.

Supernova collides with its companion star

Wed, 05/20/2015 - 13:35
Type Ia supernovae, one of the most dazzling phenomena in the universe, are produced when small dense stars called white dwarfs explode with ferocious intensity. At their peak, these supernovae can outshine an entire galaxy. Although thousands of supernovae of this kind were found in the last decades, the process by which a white dwarf becomes one has been unclear.

Asteroid research benefits from Gaia satellite mission

Wed, 05/20/2015 - 10:05
Astronomical research on asteroids, i.e. minor planets, is also benefiting from the large-scale Gaia mission of the European Space Agency (ESA). Even though the astrometry satellite's main purpose is to precisely measure nearly one billion stars in the Milky Way, it has tracked down a multitude of minor dwarf planets in our solar system.To determine its current position in space and thus ensure Gaia's extremely high measurement accuracy, images are taken every day of the regions of the sky where the very faint satellite is located.

Astronomy: The dreadful beauty of Medusa

Wed, 05/20/2015 - 08:31
Astronomers using ESO's Very Large Telescope in Chile have captured the most detailed image ever taken of the Medusa Nebula. As the star at the heart of this nebula made its transition into retirement, it shed its outer layers into space, forming a colorful cloud. The image foreshadows the final fate of the Sun, which will eventually also become an object of this kind.

Is there life out there? Distant moons may provide the answer

Wed, 05/20/2015 - 08:26
Researchers who have modeled planetary systems far beyond our own solar system have found that massive moons larger than Mars might be the best bet in the search for life beyond Earth.

Cubesat: Small-satellite technology to observe physical phenomena far from Earth

Tue, 05/19/2015 - 18:22
Although scientists are increasingly using pint-size satellites sometimes no larger than a loaf of bread to gather data from low-Earth orbit, they have yet to apply the less-expensive small-satellite technology to observe physical phenomena far from terra firma. Scientists are now advancing a CubeSat concept that would give scientists that capability.

How will astronauts keep in shape for extended periods?

Tue, 05/19/2015 - 13:27
Run far or run fast? That is one of the questions NASA is trying to answer with one of its latest studies -- and the answers may help keep us in shape on Earth, as well as in space. Even with regular exercise, astronauts who spend an extended period of time in space experience muscle weakening, bone loss, and decreased cardiovascular conditioning.

Maybe dark matter is not made up of heavy particles after all

Fri, 05/15/2015 - 08:34
Scientists have conducted a simulation that explains the collision between two clusters of galaxies. Clusters of galaxies are the biggest objects that exist in the universe. They are collections of hundreds of thousands of galaxies pulled together by gravity. Rare, extreme examples of clusters caught in the act of colliding seem to be challenging the accepted view that dark matter is made up of heavy particles.

Bright spots on dwarf planet Ceres

Thu, 05/14/2015 - 15:07
The mysterious bright spots on the dwarf planet Ceres are better resolved in a image recently taken by NASA's Dawn spacecraft. The images were taken from a distance of 8,400 miles (13,600 kilometers).

Hubble Catches a Stellar Exodus in Action

Thu, 05/14/2015 - 13:26
Astronomers have captured for the first time snapshots of fledgling white dwarf stars beginning their slow-paced, 40-million-year migration from the crowded center of an ancient star cluster to the less populated suburbs.

Comet Wild 2: A window into the birth of the solar system?

Thu, 05/14/2015 - 09:58
Scientists have investigated the oxygen isotope and mineral composition of the comet dust returned from Wild 2. The team discovered an unexpected combination of material that has deepened the mystery of Wild 2's past.