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Astronomy news. New! Earth-like extrasolar planet found; double helix nebula; supermassive black holes, astronomy articles, astronomy pictures. Updated daily.
Updated: 9 hours 41 min ago

Challenging existing models of black holes

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 8:59am
A new study expands the scientific community's understanding of black holes in our galaxy and the magnetic fields that surround them.

North, east, south, west: The many faces of Abell 1758

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 2:26pm
Resembling a swarm of flickering fireflies, this beautiful galaxy cluster glows intensely in the dark cosmos, accompanied by the myriad bright lights of foreground stars and swirling spiral galaxies. A1758N is a sub-cluster of Abell 1758, a massive cluster containing hundreds of galaxies. Although it may appear serene in this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image, the sub-cluster actually comprises two even smaller structures currently in the turbulent process of merging.

Meteoritic stardust unlocks timing of supernova dust formation

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 2:26pm
Dust is everywhere -- not just in your attic or under your bed, but also in outer space. To astronomers, dust can be a tool to study the history of our universe, galaxy, and Solar System. For example, observations indicate that type II supernovae -- explosions of stars more than ten times as massive as the Sun -- produce copious amounts of dust, but how and when they do so is not well understood.

Neutron-star merger yields new puzzle for astrophysicists

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 2:26pm
The afterglow from the distant neutron-star merger detected last August has continued to brighten - much to the surprise of astrophysicists studying the aftermath of the massive collision that took place about 138 million light years away and sent gravitational waves rippling through the universe. New observations indicate that the gamma ray burst unleashed by the collision is more complex than scientists initially imagined.

Middle-aged sun observed by tracking motion of Mercury

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 2:18pm
Like the waistband of a couch potato in midlife, the orbits of planets in our solar system are expanding. It happens because the Sun's gravitational grip gradually weakens as our star ages and loses mass. Now, scientists have indirectly measured this mass loss and other solar parameters by looking at changes in Mercury's orbit.

Odd behavior of star reveals lonely black hole hiding in giant star cluster

Wed, 01/17/2018 - 8:56am
Astronomers using ESO's MUSE instrument on the Very Large Telescope in Chile have discovered a star in the cluster NGC 3201 that is behaving very strangely. It appears to be orbiting an invisible black hole with about four times the mass of the sun -- the first such inactive stellar-mass black hole found in a globular cluster and the first found by directly detecting its gravitational pull.

Hubble weighs in on mass of 3 million billion suns

Tue, 01/16/2018 - 2:42pm
In 2014, astronomers found an enormous galaxy cluster contains the mass of a staggering three million billion suns -- so it's little wonder that it has earned the nickname of "El Gordo" ("the Fat One" in Spanish)! Known officially as ACT-CLJ0102-4915, it is the largest, hottest, and brightest X-ray galaxy cluster ever discovered in the distant Universe.

How massive can neutron stars be?

Tue, 01/16/2018 - 9:36am
Astrophysicists set a new limit for the maximum mass of neutron stars: It cannot exceed 2.16 solar masses.

Black hole spin cranks-up radio volume

Fri, 01/12/2018 - 9:59am
Statistical analysis of supermassive black holes suggests that the spin of the black hole may play a role in the generation of powerful high-speed jets blasting radio waves. By analyzing nearly 8000 quasars from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, research team found that the oxygen emissions are 1.5 times stronger in radio loud quasars than in radio quiet quasars. This implies that spin is an important factor in the generation of jets.

X-ray navigation could open up new frontiers for robotic spacecraft

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 10:39pm
In a technology first, a team of engineers has demonstrated fully autonomous X-ray navigation in space -- a capability that could revolutionize NASA's ability in the future to pilot robotic spacecraft to the far reaches of the solar system and beyond.

Supermassive black hole caught burping — twice

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 4:29pm
Astronomers have caught a supermassive black hole in a distant galaxy snacking on gas and then "burping" — not once, but twice.

Magnified and stretched out image of extremely distant galaxy

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 4:29pm
An intensive survey deep into the universe by NASA's Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes has yielded the proverbial needle-in-a-haystack: the farthest galaxy yet seen in an image that has been stretched and amplified by a phenomenon called gravitational lensing.

Archeology of our Milky Way's ancient hub

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 4:29pm
A new analysis of about 10,000 normal Sun-like stars in the Milky Way's bulge reveals that our galaxy’s hub is a dynamic environment of variously aged stars zipping around at different speeds.

No planets needed for rings around stars: Disk patterns can self-generate

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 3:50pm
A new study shows rings, arcs and spirals in disks around stars may not be caused by planets. They may self-generate.

Brown dwarfs found sprinkled among newborn stars in Orion Nebula

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 3:50pm
Astronomers have uncovered the largest known population of brown dwarfs sprinkled among newborn stars in the Orion Nebula.

Citizen scientists discover five-planet system

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 2:40pm
In its search for exoplanets -- planets outside of our solar system -- NASA's Kepler telescope trails behind Earth, measuring the brightness of stars that may potentially host planets. The instrument identifies potential planets around other stars by looking for dips in the brightness of the stars that occur when planets cross in front of, or transit, them. Typically, computer programs flag the stars with these brightness dips, then astronomers look at each one and decide whether or not they truly could host a planet candidate.

Faint galactic glow: Intriguing organic molecule benzonitrile in interstellar space

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 2:16pm
Astronomers have made the first definitive interstellar detection of benzonitrile, an intriguing organic molecule that helps to chemically link simple carbon-based molecules and truly massive ones known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. This discovery is a vital clue in a 30-year-old mystery: identifying the source of a faint infrared glow that permeates the Milky Way and other galaxies.

Astronomers to build space telescope to explore nearby stars

Wed, 01/10/2018 - 10:05pm
A new mission will launch a small satellite telescope into space to study the environment in other solar systems around the Galaxy's most common type of star.

A repeating fast radio burst from an extreme environment

Wed, 01/10/2018 - 5:14pm
New detections of radio waves from a repeating fast radio burst have revealed an astonishingly potent magnetic field in the source's environment, indicating that it is situated near a massive black hole or within a nebula of unprecedented power.

Swarm of hydrogen clouds flying away from center of the Milky Way

Wed, 01/10/2018 - 4:32pm
Astronomers have discovered what appears to be a grand exodus of more than 100 hydrogen clouds streaming away from the center of the Milky Way and heading into intergalactic space.