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Your online destination for news articles on planets, cosmology, NASA, space missions, and more. You’ll also find information on how to observe upcoming visible sky events such as meteor showers, solar and lunar eclipses, key planetary appearances, comets, and asteroids.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Comet fragments, not aliens, best explain mysterious dimming star

Was it a catastrophic collision in the star’s asteroid belt? A giant impact that disrupted a nearby planet? A dusty cloud of rock and debris? A family of comets breaking apart? Or was it alien megastructures built to harvest the star’s en...

A blue Neptune-sized exoplanet around a red dwarf star

A team of astronomers has used the LCOGT network to detect light scattered by tiny particles — called Rayleigh scattering — through the atmosphere of a Neptune-sized transiting exoplanet. This suggests a blue sky on this world that is onl...
Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Where Alice in Wonderland meets Albert Einstein

One hundred years ago this month, Albert Einstein published his general theory of relativity, one of the most important scientific achievements in the last century. A key result of Einstein’s theory is that matter warps space-time, and thus a ...

The Demon Star shines bright tonight

The variable star Algol in Perseus appears faintest at 10:14 p.m. EST tonight, when it shines at magnitude 3.4. If you start watching it immediately after darkness falls, you can see it dim from near its peak brightness (magnitude 2.1) to minimum and...

Oodles of faint dwarf galaxies in Fornax shed light on a cosmological mystery

An astonishing number of faint, low surface brightness dwarf galaxies recently discovered in the Fornax cluster of galaxies may help to solve the long-standing cosmological mystery of “the missing satellites.” The discovery, made by an in...
Monday, November 23, 2015

A day on Pluto, a day on Charon

On approach in July 2015, the cameras on NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft captured Pluto rotating over the course of a full “Pluto day.” The best available images of each side of Pluto taken during approach have been combined to creat...

Earth might have hairy dark matter

The solar system might be a lot hairier than we thought. A new study proposes the existence of long filaments of dark matter, or “hairs.” Dark matter is an invisible, mysterious substance that makes up about 27 percent of all matter and...
Friday, November 20, 2015

STEREO-A is back in full communications

On November 9, 2015, NASA’s Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory Ahead, or STEREO-A, once again began transmitting data at its full rate. For the previous year, STEREO-A was transmitting only a weak signal — or occasionally none at...
Thursday, November 19, 2015

Dwarf star packs a magnetic punch

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have discovered that a dim cool dwarf star is generating a surprisingly powerful magnetic field, one that rivals the most intense magnetic regions of our Sun. The star’s...

Dark matter dominates in nearby dwarf galaxy

A Caltech researcher has measured what could be the highest concentration of dark matter in any known galaxy. Dark matter is called “dark” for a good reason. Although it outweighs regular matter by more than a factor of 5 in the cosmos, ...
Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Observing the birth of an alien planet

The newly found “protoplanet” is 450 light-years away, but observing how it collects matter and grows could answer some of the biggest questions concerning how our solar system formed. Since prehistory, humans have speculated about how th...

Superflares might make "most Earth-like exoplanet" uninhabitable

The most Earth-like planet could have been made uninhabitable by vast quantities of radiation, new research led by the University of Warwick has found. The atmosphere of the planet, Kepler-438b, is thought to have been stripped away as a result of r...
Tuesday, November 17, 2015

“Chemical Laptop” could search for signs of life outside Earth

If you were looking for the signatures of life on another world, you would want to take something small and portable with you. That’s the philosophy behind the “Chemical Laptop” being developed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laborat...

Curiosity roves toward active dunes

On its way to higher layers of the mountain where it is investigating how Mars’ environment changed billions of years ago, NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover will take advantage of a chance to study some modern martian activity at mobile sand du...
Monday, November 16, 2015

Mapping winds on alien worlds

Winds of over 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) per second have been discovered flowing around a planet outside of Earth’s solar system, new research has found. The University of Warwick discovery is the first time that a weather system on a planet out...

Astronomers discover a distant galaxy with a pulse

Astronomers at Yale and Harvard have found a galaxy with a heartbeat — and they’ve taken its pulse. It is the first time scientists have measured the effect that pulsating older red stars have on the light of their surrounding galaxy. &...
Friday, November 13, 2015

Fermi mission finds hints of gamma-ray cycle in an active galaxy

Astronomers using data from NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope have detected hints of periodic changes in the brightness of a so-called “active” galaxy, whose emissions are powered by a supersized black hole. If confirmed, the d...

Upgrade helps NASA study mineral veins on Mars

Scientists now have a better understanding about a site with the most chemically diverse mineral veins NASA’s Curiosity rover has examined on Mars, thanks in part to a valuable new resource scientists used in analyzing data from the rover. Cur...

Shifting hot spots on Jupiter’s volcano moon Io

If I had to choose one moon in the solar system as my favorite, Io would win easily. I’ve been fascinated with this world ever since the Voyager 1 spacecraft flew past Jupiter and its family of satellites in March 1979 — and revealed Io a...
Thursday, November 12, 2015

Astronomers are eager to get a whiff of newfound Venus-like planet

The collection of rocky planets orbiting distant stars has just grown by one, and the latest discovery is the most intriguing one to date. The newfound world, although hot as an oven, is cool enough to potentially host an atmosphere. If it does, it&r...

Astronomers look to Titan for clouds, haze, and E.T.

The onset of winter is bringing big changes to the southern hemisphere of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. In May 2012, the Cassini spacecraft’s camera captured a cloud system rising 185 miles (300 kilometers) above the moon’s south po...


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