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Updated: 8 hours 54 min ago

Radio 'eyes' unlocking secrets of neutron-star collision

Mon, 10/16/2017 - 10:28am
When a pair of superdense neutron stars collided and potentially formed a black hole in a galaxy 130 million light-years from Earth, they unleashed not only a train of gravitational waves but also an ongoing torrent of radio waves that are answering some of the biggest questions about the nature of such a cataclysmic event.

Astronomers strike cosmic gold, confirm origin of precious metals in neutron star mergers

Mon, 10/16/2017 - 10:28am
What many thought would be a long way off, the detection of gravitational waves from the merger of binary neutron stars, actually happened on Aug. 17. The observation of a blue and then red glow from the radioactive debris cloud left behind matched simulations of what the merger should look like, proving that such mergers are the source of most of the very heavy elements in the universe, including gold.

First observations of merging neutron stars mark a new era in astronomy

Mon, 10/16/2017 - 10:28am
After LIGO detected gravitational waves from the merger of two neutron stars, the race was on to detect a visible counterpart, because unlike the colliding black holes responsible for LIGO's four previous detections, this event was expected to produce an explosion of visible light. Researchers have now found the source of the gravitational waves, capturing the first images of the event with the Swope Telescope in Chile.

How scientists used NASA data to predict the corona of the Aug. 21 Total Solar Eclipse

Sat, 10/14/2017 - 11:17am
When the total solar eclipse swept across the United States on Aug. 21, 2017, NASA satellites captured a diverse set of images from space. But days before the eclipse, some NASA satellites also enabled scientists to predict what the corona -- the Sun's outer atmosphere -- would look like during the eclipse, from the ground. In addition to offering a case study to test our predictive abilities, the predictions also enabled some eclipse scientists to choose their study targets in advance.

Solar research: NASA sounding rocket instrument spots signatures of long-sought small solar flares

Fri, 10/13/2017 - 2:03pm
Like most solar sounding rockets, the second flight of the FOXSI instrument -- short for Focusing Optics X-ray Solar Imager -- lasted 15 minutes, with just six minutes of data collection. But in that short time, the cutting-edge instrument found the best evidence to date of a phenomenon scientists have been seeking for years: signatures of tiny solar flares that could help explain the mysterious extreme heating of the Sun's outer atmosphere.

Astronomers find potential solution into how planets form

Fri, 10/13/2017 - 12:32pm
The quest to discover how planets found in the far reaches of the universe are born has taken a new, crucial twist.

Solar research: On the generation of solar spicules and Alfvenic waves

Fri, 10/13/2017 - 12:31pm
Combining computer observations and simulations, a new model shows that the presence of neutrals in the gas facilitates the magnetic fields to penetrate through the surface of the Sun producing the spicules.

Space radiation won't stop NASA's human exploration

Fri, 10/13/2017 - 9:52am
While it's true that space radiation is one of the biggest challenges for a human journey to Mars, it's also true that NASA is developing technologies and countermeasures to ensure a safe and successful journey to the red planet.

Star Dust Helps Explain Mysterious Dimming Star

Fri, 10/13/2017 - 9:19am
Astronomers are working to understand the mysterious dimming of Tabby's Star. The astronomers report that space dust orbiting the star -- not alien megastructures -- is the likely cause of the star's long-term dimming.

Intense storms batter Saturn’s largest moon, scientists report

Thu, 10/12/2017 - 5:25pm
Titan, the largest of Saturn's more than 60 moons, has surprisingly intense rainstorms, according to research by a team of UCLA planetary scientists and geologists. Although the storms are relatively rare -- they occur less than once per Titan year, which is 29 and a half Earth years -- they occur much more frequently than the scientists expected.

Measurement promises complete picture of Milky Way

Thu, 10/12/2017 - 2:34pm
Distance measured out to the far side of our Milky Way means that radio astronomers now can work on producing an accurate map of the full extent of our galaxy's structure for the first time.

Devourer of planets? Astronomers dub star 'Kronos'

Thu, 10/12/2017 - 12:28pm
'Kronos' is enhanced in metals and other rock-forming elements but not in volatiles, prompting a team of researchers to conclude that it absorbed as much as 15 Earth masses worth of rocky planets. Its twin, 'Krios,' does not show this unusual pattern of enhancement.

A better understanding of space, via helicopter

Thu, 10/12/2017 - 12:26pm
An algorithm that helps engineers design better helicopters may help astronomers more precisely envision the formation of planets and galaxies. Researchers have created a new model for understanding how black holes, planets, and galaxies emerge from the vortex-rich environments of space.

Reconstructing Cassini's plunge into Saturn

Thu, 10/12/2017 - 11:35am
As NASA's Cassini spacecraft made its fateful dive into the upper atmosphere of Saturn on Sept. 15, the spacecraft was live-streaming data from eight of its science instruments, along with readings from a variety of engineering systems. While analysis of science data from the final plunge will take some time, Cassini engineers already have a pretty clear understanding of how the spacecraft itself behaved as it went in.

Haumea, the most peculiar of Pluto companions, has a ring around it

Thu, 10/12/2017 - 9:33am
The trans-neptunian belt contains four dwarf planets, among which Haumea stands out for its extremely elongated shape and rapid rotation. A stellar occultation makes it possible to establish the main physical characteristics of this previously little known body -- among which most surprising was the presence of a ring.

Giant exoplanet hunters: Look for debris disks

Wed, 10/11/2017 - 1:52pm
There's no map showing all the billions of exoplanets hiding in our galaxy -- they're so distant and faint compared to their stars, it's hard to find them. Now, astronomers hunting for new worlds have established a possible signpost for giant exoplanets.

Scientists discover one of the most luminous 'new stars' ever

Wed, 10/11/2017 - 12:03pm
Astronomers have discovered possibly the most luminous 'new star' ever -- a nova discovered in the direction of one of our closest neighboring galaxies: The Small Magellanic Cloud.

Ancient asteroid impact exposes the moon's interior

Tue, 10/10/2017 - 12:41pm
A large basin on the moon has revealed that its interior is made of a different mineral than Earth's interior, contradicting the theory that the interior of the planets look mostly the same.

Scientists discover more about the ingredients for star formation

Tue, 10/10/2017 - 10:58am
In the local universe close to us, about 70 percent of the hydrogen gas is found in individual atoms, while the rest is in molecules. Astronomers had expected that as they looked back in time, younger galaxies would contain more and more molecular hydrogen until it dominated the gas in the galaxy. Instead, they found that atomic hydrogen makes up the majority of gas in younger galaxies too.

The moon once had an atmosphere

Mon, 10/09/2017 - 9:19am
A new study shows that an atmosphere was produced around the ancient Moon, 3 to 4 billion years ago, when intense volcanic eruptions spewed gases above the surface faster than they could escape to space.