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Updated: 9 hours 40 min ago

Size matters in the detection of exoplanet atmospheres

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 9:26am
A group-analysis of 30 exoplanets orbiting distant stars suggests that size, not mass, is a key factor in whether a planet’s atmosphere can be detected. The largest population-study of exoplanets to date successfully detected atmospheres around 16 ‘hot Jupiters’, and found that water vapor was present in every case.

Solar wind impacts on giant 'space hurricanes' may affect satellite safety

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 9:10am
Could the flapping of a butterfly's wings in Costa Rica set off a hurricane in California? For most people, this hypothetical scenario may be difficult to imagine on Earth -- particularly when a real disaster strikes. Yet, in space, similarly small fluctuations in the solar wind as it streams toward the Earth's magnetic shield actually can affect the speed and strength of 'space hurricanes,' a researcher explains.

When radio galaxies collide, supermassive black holes form tightly bound pairs

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 12:35pm
Supermassive black holes found in the centers of galaxies can form gravitationally bound pairs when galaxies merge, according to a new study.

Secrets of bright, rapidly spinning star revealed

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 11:18am
Almost 50 years after it was first predicted that rapidly rotating stars would emit polarized light, scientists have succeeded in observing the phenomenon for the first time. They have now detected the polarized light from Regulus, one of the brightest stars in the night sky.

NASA's Cassini spacecraft ends its historic exploration of Saturn

Sat, 09/16/2017 - 10:30am
A thrilling epoch in the exploration of our solar system has come to a close, as NASA's Cassini spacecraft made a fateful plunge into the atmosphere of Saturn, ending its 13-year tour of the ringed planet. Cassini's plunge brings to a close a series of 22 dives between Saturn and its rings, a feat never before attempted by any spacecraft.

Star formation influenced by local environmental conditions

Fri, 09/15/2017 - 10:36am
Three scientists have carried out extensive computer simulations related to star formation. They conclude that the present idealized models are lacking when it comes to describing details in the star formation process.

The return of the comet-like exoplanet

Thu, 09/14/2017 - 3:23pm
Astronomers have focused the Hubble Space Telescope on an exoplanet that had already been seen losing its atmosphere, which forms an enormous cloud of hydrogen, giving the planet the appearance of a giant comet. During earlier observations, it was not possible to cover the whole cloud, whose shape was predicted by numerical simulations. Thanks to these new observations, the scientists have finally been able to confirm the initial predictions.

Hubble observes pitch black planet

Thu, 09/14/2017 - 3:22pm
Astronomers have discovered that the well-studied exoplanet WASP-12b reflects almost no light, making it appear essentially pitch black. This discovery sheds new light on the atmospheric composition of the planet and also refutes previous hypotheses about WASP-12b's atmosphere. The results are also in stark contrast to observations of another similarly sized exoplanet.

Physicists offer explanation for diverse galaxy rotations

Thu, 09/14/2017 - 3:22pm
Physicists have found a simple and viable explanation for the diversity observed in galactic rotations. They report that diverse galactic-rotation curves, a graph of rotation speeds at different distances from the center, can be naturally explained if dark matter particles are assumed to strongly collide with one another in the inner halo, close to the galaxy's center -- a process called dark matter self-interaction.

New supernova analysis reframes dark energy debate

Wed, 09/13/2017 - 7:31pm
The accelerating expansion of the Universe may not be real, but could just be an apparent effect, according to new research. The new study finds the fit of Type Ia supernovae to a model universe with no dark energy to be very slightly better than the fit to the standard dark energy model.

First global map of water in moon's soil

Wed, 09/13/2017 - 7:30pm
A new study maps the trace concentrations of water implanted in the lunar soil by the solar wind, a water source that could be used as resource in future lunar exploration.

New gravity map suggests Mars has a porous crust

Wed, 09/13/2017 - 7:30pm
Scientists have found evidence that Mars' crust is not as dense as previously thought, a clue that could help researchers better understand the Red Planet's interior structure and evolution.

A one-of-a-kind star found to change over decades

Tue, 09/12/2017 - 3:48pm
Researchers recently found new evidence that lends support to an existing theory of how the unusual star emits energy.

Astronauts don't develop anemia during spaceflight, NASA study suggests

Tue, 09/12/2017 - 9:30am
Space flight anemia -- the reduction of circulating red blood cells during time spent in space -- is an established phenomenon, but it may not be a major concern during long-duration space missions, according to a study.

Explosive birth of stars swells galactic cores

Sun, 09/10/2017 - 11:25pm
Astronomers found that active star formation upswells galaxies, like yeast helps bread rise. Using three powerful telescopes on the ground and in orbit, they observed galaxies from 11 billion years ago and found explosive formation of stars in the cores of galaxies. This suggests that galaxies can change their own shape without interaction with other galaxies.

Are we being watched? Tens of other worlds could spot the Earth

Fri, 09/08/2017 - 8:55pm
Scientists have turned exoplanet-hunting on its head, in a study that instead looks at how an alien observer might be able to detect Earth using our own methods. They find that at least nine exoplanets are ideally placed to observe transits of Earth.

Climate change for aliens

Thu, 09/07/2017 - 11:24am
For more than 50 years, the Kardashev scale has been the gold standard for classifying hypothetical 'exo-civilizations' by their ability to harness energy. A team of researchers has devised a new system that takes into account the impacts of that energy use.

Pluto features given first official names

Thu, 09/07/2017 - 11:24am
The Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature of the International Astronomical Union has officially approved the naming of 14 features on the surface of Pluto. These are the first geological features on the planet to be named following the close flyby by the New Horizons spacecraft in July 2015.

Ultraviolet light from superluminous supernova key to revealing explosion mechanism

Thu, 09/07/2017 - 10:24am
An international team of researchers has discovered a way to use UV light from superluminous supernovae to uncover its explosion mechanism, and used it to identify Gaia16apd as a shock-interacting supernova, reports a new study.

Earth as hybrid planet: New classification places Anthropocene era in astrobiological context

Wed, 09/06/2017 - 1:55pm
A new classification scheme has been devised for the evolutionary stages of worlds based on 'non-equilibrium thermodynamics' -- a planet's energy flow being out of sync, as the presence of life could cause.