Astronomy news. New! Earth-like extrasolar planet found; double helix nebula; supermassive black holes, astronomy articles, astronomy pictures. Updated daily.
Updated: 6 hours 31 min ago
Observation of two bright exploding stars has improved the astronomical "tape measure" that scientists use to calculate the acceleration of the expansion of the universe.
Two X-ray space observatories, NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton, have teamed up to measure definitively, for the first time, the spin rate of a black hole with a mass 2 million times that of our sun.
Continuing a tradition stretching back more than 25 centuries, astronomers have used the new 2.3-meter 'Aristarchos' telescope, sited at Helmos Observatory (2340m high) in the Pelοponnese Mountains in Greece, to determine the distance to and history of an enigmatic stellar system, discovering it to likely be a binary star cocooned within an exotic nebula.
The second International Space Station Commercial Resupply Services flight by Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) is set for liftoff at 10:10 a.m. EST on March 1 from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
Two compact laboratories inside NASA's Mars rover Curiosity have ingested portions of the first sample of rock powder ever collected from the interior of a rock on Mars. Curiosity science team members will use the laboratories to analyze the rock powder in the coming days and weeks.
Even dying stars could host planets with life -- and if such life exists, we might be able to detect it within the next decade. This encouraging result comes from a new theoretical study of Earth-like planets orbiting white dwarf stars. Researchers found that we could detect oxygen in the atmosphere of a white dwarf's planet much more easily than for an Earth-like planet orbiting a Sun-like star.
The Hubble Space Telescope has captured a new image showing an object known as HH 151, a bright jet of glowing material trailed by an intricate, orange-hued plume of gas and dust.
The sun and its prodigious stream of solar particles, called the solar wind, can be particularly tricky to model since as the material streams to the outer reaches of the solar system it carries along its own magnetic fields. The magnetic forces add an extra set of laws to incorporate when trying to determine what's governing the movement. Indeed, until now, equations for certain aspects of the solar wind have never been successfully devised to correlate to the observations seen by instruments in space. Now, for the first time, a scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center has created a set of the necessary equations.
NASA has selected key contributions to a 2022 European Space Agency (ESA) mission that will study Jupiter and three of its largest moons in unprecedented detail. The moons are thought to harbor vast water oceans beneath their icy surfaces.
Journey to the limits of space-time: Black hole simulations on supercomputers present new view of jets and accretion disks
Black holes shape the growth and death of the stars around them through their powerful gravitational pull and explosive ejections of energy. In a recent article, researchers predicted the formation of accretion disks and relativistic jets that warp and bend more than previously thought, shaped by the extreme gravity of the black hole and by powerful magnetic forces generated by its spin.
Gravity remains the dominant force on large astronomical scales, but when it comes to stars in young star clusters the dynamics in these crowded environments cannot be simply explained by the pull of gravity.
Eruptive events on the sun can be wildly different. Some come just with a solar flare, some with an additional ejection of solar material called a coronal mass ejection, and some with complex moving structures in association with changes in magnetic field lines that loop up into the sun's atmosphere, the corona. On July 19, 2012, an eruption occurred on the sun that produced all three.
NASA's Kepler mission discovers tiny planet system: Smallest planet yet found around a star similar to our sun
NASA's Kepler mission scientists have discovered a new planetary system that is home to the smallest planet yet found around a star similar to our sun. The planets are located in a system called Kepler-37, about 210 light-years from Earth in the constellation Lyra. The smallest planet, Kepler-37b, is slightly larger than our moon, measuring about one-third the size of Earth. It is smaller than Mercury, which made its detection a challenge.
The European Space Agency's Herschel space observatory has detected a cool layer in the atmosphere of Alpha Centauri A, the first time this has been seen in a star beyond our own Sun. The finding is not only important for understanding the Sun's activity, but could also help in the quest to discover proto-planetary systems around other stars.
Located around 8000 light-years away in the constellation of Scorpius (The Scorpion), NGC 6357 -- sometimes nicknamed the Lobster Nebula due to its appearance in visible-light images -- is a region filled with vast clouds of gas and tendrils of dark dust. These clouds are forming stars, including massive hot stars which glow a brilliant blue-white in visible light.
Quasars are bright central regions of some distant galaxies. Their luminosities are often hundreds of times greater than those of their host galaxies (Note 2). Scientists believe that their light source is a very bright gaseous disk surrounding a supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy. Gas streams called "outflows" move outward from the disk and have a substantial influence on surrounding interstellar/intergalactic regions. However, because quasars at large distances look like mere stars, their internal structures are not easy to investigate.
On Earth, scientists can observe weather patterns, and more importantly can predict them, through the use of tens of thousands of weather observatories scattered around the globe. Up in the space surrounding Earth -- a space that seethes with its own space weather made of speeding charged particles and constantly changing magnetic fields that can impact satellites -- there are only a handful of spacecraft to watch for solar and magnetic storms. The number of observatories has been growing over the last six years, however. Today these spacecraft have begun to provide the first multipoint measurements to better understand space weather events as they move through space, something impossible to track with a single spacecraft.
During a chance encounter with what appears to be an unusually strong blast of solar wind at Saturn, NASA's Cassini spacecraft detected particles being accelerated to ultra-high energies. This is similar to the acceleration that takes place around distant supernovas.
Armed with new tools, astronomers search for worlds like Earth.
A smaller version of an instrument now flying on NASA's Van Allen Probes has won a coveted spot aboard an upcoming NASA-sponsored Cubesat mission -- the perfect platform for this pint-size, solid-state telescope.