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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.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Pluto’s mysterious floating hills

The nitrogen ice glaciers on Pluto appear to carry an intriguing cargo: numerous isolated hills that may be fragments of water ice from Pluto’s surrounding uplands. These hills individually measure one to several miles across, according to imag...
Thursday, February 04, 2016

Rapidly spinning stars explain dark matter signal from galactic center

The puzzling excess of gamma rays from the center of the Milky Way probably originates from rapidly rotating neutron stars, or millisecond pulsars, and not from dark matter annihilation, as previously claimed. This is the conclusion of new data analy...
Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Saturn’s rings: less than meets the eye?

It seems intuitive that an opaque material should contain more stuff than a more translucent substance. For example, muddier water has more suspended particles of dirt in it than clearer water. Likewise, you might think that in the rings of Saturn mo...
Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Blast from black hole in a galaxy far, far away

The Star Wars franchise features the fictitious “Death Star,” which can shoot powerful beams of radiation across space. The universe, however, produces phenomena that often surpass what science fiction can conjure. The Pictor A Galaxy is...

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck?

Among life’s many mysteries, the answer to the question above has to rank pretty low. Higher on my list: Why are woodchucks also called groundhogs? After all, wood and ground are hardly synonymous, and a “chuck” has nothing to do wi...
Monday, February 01, 2016

Antarctic fungi survive martian conditions on ISS

Antarctica’s McMurdo Dry Valleys are the most Mars-like place on Earth. They make up one of the driest and most hostile environments on our planet, where strong winds scour away even snow and ice. Only so-called cryptoendolithic microorganisms,...
Friday, January 29, 2016

Moon was produced by head-on collision

The Moon was formed by a violent head-on collision between the early Earth and a “planetary embryo” called Theia approximately 100 million years after Earth formed, UCLA geochemists and colleagues report. Scientists had already known abo...

Pluto’s widespread water ice

Data from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft point to more prevalent water ice on Pluto’s surface than previously thought. A new false-color image, derived from observations in infrared light by the Ralph/Linear Etalon Imaging Spectral Array...
Thursday, January 28, 2016

Giant star clusters make new stars by “adopting” stray cosmic gases

Among the most striking objects in the universe are the dense, glittering swarms of stars known as globular clusters. Astronomers had long thought globular clusters formed their millions of stars in bulk at around the same time, with each cluster&rsq...

Monstrous cloud boomerangs back to our galaxy

Hubble Space Telescope astronomers are finding that the old adage, "What goes up, must come down" even applies to an immense cloud of hydrogen gas outside our Milky Way Galaxy. The invisible cloud is plummeting toward our galaxy at nearly 700,000 mil...
Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Telescopes team up to produce highest-resolution astronomical image

Using an orbiting radio-astronomy satellite combined with 15 ground-based radio telescopes, astronomers have made the highest-resolution astronomical image yet, revealing new insights about a gorging black hole in a galaxy 900 million light-years fro...
Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Lonely planet has a parent star after all

A team of astronomers in the UK, USA, and Australia have found a lonely planet, until now thought to be a free floating planet, in a huge orbit around its star. Incredibly, the object, designated as 2MASS J2126, is about 1 trillion (1 million million...

Dark matter affects architecture of galaxy clusters

Dark matter is a mysterious cosmic phenomenon that accounts for 27 percent of all matter and energy. Though dark matter is all around us, we cannot see it or feel it. But scientists can infer the presence of dark matter by looking at how normal matte...
Monday, January 25, 2016

Theorists propose a new method to probe the beginning of the universe

How did the universe begin? And what came before the Big Bang? Cosmologists have asked these questions ever since discovering that our universe is expanding. The answers aren't easy to determine. The beginning of the cosmos is cloaked and hidden from...

All the classical planets align under one sky this week

Five planets adorn the morning sky this week — the same quintet of “wanderers” (Mercury to Saturn) our ancient ancestors recognized as being different from the background stars. Head outside about 45 minutes before sunrise and you w...

Primitive star offers clues about the early universe

A team of researchers has observed the brightest ultra metal-poor star ever discovered. The star is a rare relic from the Milky Way’s formative years. As such, it offers astronomers a precious opportunity to explore the origin of the first sta...
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