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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 38 min ago

An exceptional planetary system discovered in Cassiopeia

Thu, 07/30/2015 - 16:29
Astronomers have teased out a secret planetary system hiding in the arms of Cassiopea, just 21 light years away from us. The remarkable system, named HD219134, hosts one outer giant planet and three inner super-Earths, one of which transits in front of the star. The transiting super-Earth has a density similar to the Earth. It is by far the closest transiting planet known today. It provides the ideal candidate for follow-up studies and a deeper understanding of planetary formation, internal composition, and atmospheres. The system is so close that astronomers already dream about taking pictures of the new "Stars."

Comets: Soft shell, hard core?

Thu, 07/30/2015 - 16:29
Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko poses new riddles: Surface material measurements performed by the Philae landing module indicate that the near surface material might have changed since its formation. Up to now, many researchers had assumed that it has remained in virtually the same state since its formation about 4.5 billion years ago.

Stars in Milky Way have moved

Thu, 07/30/2015 - 13:11
Researchers have created a new map of the Milky Way that shows nearly a third of the stars have dramatically changed their orbits.

Distant Uranus-sized planet discovered through microlensing

Thu, 07/30/2015 - 13:11
Astronomers have confirmed the existence of a Uranus-sized exoplanet orbiting far from its central star, discovered through a technique called gravitational microlensing.

Stormy seas in Sagittarius

Thu, 07/30/2015 - 10:46
Some of the most breathtaking views in the Universe are created by nebulae -- hot, glowing clouds of gas. This new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image shows the center of the Lagoon Nebula, an object with a deceptively tranquil name. The region is filled with intense winds from hot stars, churning funnels of gas, and energetic star formation, all embedded within an intricate haze of gas and pitch-dark dust.

'Failed stars' host powerful auroral displays

Wed, 07/29/2015 - 14:21
By observing a brown dwarf 20 light-years away using both radio and optical telescopes, astronomers have found that such so-called failed stars host powerful auroras near their magnetic poles -- additional evidence that brown dwarfs are more like giant planets than small stars.

Dense star clusters shown to be binary black hole factories

Wed, 07/29/2015 - 14:20
The merger of two black holes is one of the most sought-after observations of modern astronomy. The first observatories capable of directly detecting gravitational waves -- ripples in the fabric of spacetime predicted by Albert Einstein -- will begin observing the universe later this year. When these waves rolling in from space are detected on Earth for the first time, astrophysicists predict astronomers will 'hear,' through these waves, five times more colliding black holes than previously expected.

Secrets of stars unlocked through aluminium

Wed, 07/29/2015 - 10:21
Physicists have revealed a new understanding of nucleosynthesis in stars, providing insight into the role massive stars play in the evolution of the Milky Way and the origins of the Solar System.

First detection of lithium from an exploding star

Wed, 07/29/2015 - 08:59
The chemical element lithium has been found for the first time in material ejected by a nova. Observations of Nova Centauri 2013 made using telescopes at ESO's La Silla Observatory, and near Santiago in Chile, help to explain the mystery of why many young stars seem to have more of this chemical element than expected.

Lobster-eye imager detects soft X-ray emissions

Tue, 07/28/2015 - 11:07
A group of scientists have described developing and launching their imager, which centers on "Lobster-Eye optics," as well as its capabilities and future applications in space exploration.

Dust pillars of destruction reveal impact of cosmic wind on galaxy evolution

Mon, 07/27/2015 - 12:03
Astronomers have long known that powerful cosmic winds can sometimes blow through galaxies, sweeping out interstellar material and stopping future star formation. Now they have a clearer snapshot of how it happens.

Brown dwarfs, stars share formation process, new study indicates

Thu, 07/23/2015 - 12:54
The discovery of jets of material ejected from still-forming brown dwarfs provides the first direct evidence that these enigmatic objects form in the same way as their more-massive siblings, stars, rather than like planets.

Bigger, older cousin to Earth discovered

Thu, 07/23/2015 - 11:57
NASA's Kepler mission has confirmed the first near-Earth-size planet in the "habitable zone" around a sun-like star. This discovery and the introduction of 11 other new small habitable zone candidate planets mark another milestone in the journey to finding another "Earth."

Treasure hunting in archive data reveals clues about black holes’ diet

Thu, 07/23/2015 - 08:38
Using archival data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, and the XMM-Newton and Chandra X-ray telescopes, astronomers have discovered a gigantic black hole, which is probably destroying and devouring a big star in its vicinity. With a mass of 100 million times more than our Sun, this is the largest black hole caught in this act so far.

Space-eye-view could help stop global wildlife decline

Wed, 07/22/2015 - 14:14
Conservation scientists need to collaborate with space agencies, such as NASA and the European Space Agency, to identify measures which help track biodiversity declines around the world. Scientists are calling for urgent cooperation.

Déjà-vu: New theory says dark matter acts like well-known particle

Wed, 07/22/2015 - 08:11
A new theory says dark matter acts remarkably similar to subatomic particles known to science since the 1930s.

Seeing triple: New 3-D model could solve supernova mystery

Tue, 07/21/2015 - 12:46
Scientists have developed a 3-D model of a giant star's last moments, work that could shed light on how these stars explode.

Technique may reveal the age of moon rocks during spaceflight

Mon, 07/20/2015 - 15:45
Researchers are developing instruments and methods for measuring the ages of rocks encountered during space missions to the Moon or other planets. Many of the techniques used to date rocks on Earth are not practical in spaceflight, but a technique called laser ablation resonance ionization mass spectrometry can avoid the need for sophisticated sample preparation.

Abundance of certain elements in Earth dictate whether plate tectonics can happen

Mon, 07/20/2015 - 14:13
Planet Earth is situated in what astronomers call the Goldilocks Zone -- a sweet spot in a solar system where a planet's surface temperature is neither too hot nor too cold. An ideal distance from a home star -- in Earth's case, the sun -- this habitable zone, as it is also known, creates optimal conditions that prevent water from freezing and generating a global icehouse or evaporating into space and creating a runaway greenhouse.

Solar events unlikely to trigger birth defects on Earth

Mon, 07/20/2015 - 11:49
A new investigation has found radiation from solar events is too weak to cause worry at ground level.