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News

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.

Monday, July 28, 2014

NASA-funded X-ray instrument settles interstellar debate

New findings from a NASA-funded instrument have resolved a decades-old puzzle about a fog of low-energy X-rays observed over the entire sky. Thanks to refurbished detectors first flown on a NASA sounding rocket in the 1970s, astronomers have now conf...

NASA's Mars spacecraft maneuvers to prepare for close comet flyby

NASA is taking steps to protect its Mars orbiters while preserving opportunities to gather valuable scientific data as Comet Siding Spring (C/2013 A1) heads toward a close flyby of Mars on October 19. The comet’s nucleus will miss Mars by abou...
Friday, July 25, 2014

The most precise measurement of an alien world’s size

Thanks to NASA’s Kepler and Spitzer Space Telescopes, scientists have made the most precise measurement ever of the radius of a planet outside our solar system. The size of the exoplanet, dubbed Kepler-93b, is now known to an uncertainty of jus...

Surface impressions of Rosetta’s comet

Surface structures are becoming visible in new images of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko taken by the scientific imaging system OSIRIS onboard the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft. The resolution of these images is now 330 feet (100 meters)...
Thursday, July 24, 2014

New mass map of a distant galaxy cluster is the most precise yet

Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have mapped the mass within a galaxy cluster more precisely than ever before. Created using observations from Hubble's Frontier Fields observing program, the map shows the amount and distribution ...

Hubble finds three surprisingly dry exoplanets

Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have gone looking for water vapor in the atmospheres of three planets orbiting stars similar to the Sun — and have come up nearly dry. The three planets — HD 189733b, HD 209458b, and ...
Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Lives and deaths of sibling stars

In this striking new image from the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) La Silla Observatory in Chile, young stars huddle together against a backdrop of clouds of glowing gas and lanes of dust. The star cluster, known as NGC 3293, would have ...

Fermi finds a “transformer” pulsar

In late June 2013, an exceptional binary containing a rapidly spinning neutron star underwent a dramatic change in behavior never before observed. The pulsar's radio beacon vanished while at the same time the system brightened fivefold in gamma rays,...
Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Hubble traces the halo of a galaxy more accurately than ever before

There is more to a galaxy than first meets the eye. Extending far beyond the bright glow of a galaxy’s center, the swirling spiral arms, or the elliptical fuzz is an extra component — a dim halo of stars sprawling into space. These expan...

Transiting exoplanet with longest known year

Astronomers have discovered a transiting exoplanet with the longest known year. Kepler-421b circles its star once every 704 days. In comparison, Mars orbits our Sun once every 780 days. Most of the 1,800-plus exoplanets discovered to date are much cl...
Monday, July 21, 2014

Fingerprinting the formation of giant planets

A team of Brazilian and American astronomers used the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) observations of the system 16 Cygni to discover evidence of how giant planets like Jupiter form. One of the main models to form giant planets is called &ldqu...

Project yields sharpest map of Mars surface properties

A heat-sensing camera designed at Arizona State University (ASU) has provided data to create the most detailed global map yet made of martian surface properties. The map uses data from the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS), a nine-band visual...
Friday, July 18, 2014

Peering into giant planets from in and out of this world

Lawrence Livermore scientists for the first time have experimentally re-created the conditions that exist deep inside giant planets, such as Jupiter, Uranus, and many of the planets recently discovered outside our solar system. Researchers can now r...
Thursday, July 17, 2014

The twofold comet: Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

As the European Space Agency’s (ESA) spacecraft Rosetta is slowly approaching its destination, Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is again proving to be full of surprises. New images obtained by OSIRIS, the onboard scientific imaging system, confi...

Asteroid Vesta to reshape theories of planet formation

Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) researchers have a better understanding of the asteroid Vesta and its internal structure, thanks to numerical simulations and data from the space mission Dawn. Their findings question contemporary model...
Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Comet ISON’s final hours

On November 28 of last year, thousands of people worldwide watched Comet ISON’s fiery ride past the Sun. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) have now reconstructed the comet’s activity during its final ...

Curiosity finds iron meteorite on Mars

This rock encountered by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover is an iron meteorite called "Lebanon," similar in shape and luster to iron meteorites found on Mars by the previous generation of rovers, Spirit and Opportunity. Lebanon is about 2 yards (2 meters)...
Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Silhouettes of early galaxies reveal few seeds for new stars

An international team of astronomers has discovered that gas around young galaxies is almost barren, devoid of the seeds from which new stars are thought to form — molecules of hydrogen. Without starlight to see them directly, the team, which ...

Out of an hours-long explosion, a stand-in for the first stars

Astronomers analyzing a long-lasting blast of high-energy light observed in 2013 report finding features strikingly similar to those expected from an explosion from the universe’s earliest stars. If this interpretation is correct, the outburst ...
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