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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: 1 hour 6 min ago

The sun in detail: Contorted center of sunspot nearly twice the size of Earth

Tue, 01/17/2017 - 10:18am
New images have revealed otherwise invisible details of our Sun, including a new view of the dark, contorted center of a sunspot that is nearly twice the diameter of the Earth. The images are the first ever made of the Sun with a facility where ESO is a partner. The results are an important expansion of the range of observations that can be used to probe the physics of our nearest star.

Astrophysicists discover dimming of binary star

Mon, 01/16/2017 - 4:11pm
A team astrophysicists has observed the unexplained fading of an interacting binary star, one of the first discoveries using the Sarah L. Krizmanich Telescope.

Galaxy murder mystery

Mon, 01/16/2017 - 4:06pm
It’s the big astrophysical whodunnit. Across the Universe, galaxies are being killed and the question scientists want answered is, what’s killing them?

Presumed young star turns out to be a galactic senior citizen

Mon, 01/16/2017 - 9:20am
49 Lib, a relatively bright star in the southern sky, is twelve billion years old rather than just 2.3 billion. For many decades, researchers were stumped by conflicting data pertaining to this celestial body, because they had estimated it as much younger than it really is. Determining its age anew, astronomers have now successfully resolved all inconsistencies.

Hubble gazes into a black hole of puzzling lightness

Fri, 01/13/2017 - 3:54pm
The beautiful spiral galaxy visible in the center of the image is known as RX J1140.1+0307, a galaxy in the Virgo constellation imaged by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, and it presents an interesting puzzle. At first glance, this galaxy appears to be a normal spiral galaxy, much like the Milky Way.

Understanding blended galaxies

Thu, 01/12/2017 - 2:33pm
Galaxies are merging all the time, even our own galaxy, the Milky Way. But how these mergers occur isn't entirely clear. An American astrophysicist will use a National Science Foundation grant to find and characterize supermassive black holes associated with merging galaxies.

Searching for planets in the Alpha Centauri system

Thu, 01/12/2017 - 1:07pm
Astronomers are conducting a search for planets in the nearby star system Alpha Centauri. Such planets could be the targets for an eventual launch of miniature space probes by the Breakthrough Starshot initiative.

Our galaxy's black hole is spewing out planet-size 'spitballs'

Wed, 01/11/2017 - 11:08am
Every few thousand years, an unlucky star wanders too close to the black hole at the center of the Milky Way. The black hole's powerful gravity rips the star apart, sending a long streamer of gas whipping outward. That would seem to be the end of the story, but it's not. New research shows that not only can the gas gather itself into planet-size objects, but those objects then are flung throughout the galaxy in a game of cosmic 'spitball.'

Farthest stars in Milky Way might be ripped from another galaxy

Wed, 01/11/2017 - 11:08am
The 11 farthest known stars in our galaxy are located about 300,000 light-years from Earth, well outside the Milky Way's spiral disk. New research shows that half of those stars might have been ripped from another galaxy: the Sagittarius dwarf. Moreover, they are members of a lengthy stream of stars extending one million light-years across space, or 10 times the width of our galaxy.

Struggle to escape distant galaxies creates giant halos of scattered photons

Wed, 01/11/2017 - 9:14am
Astronomers have discovered giant halos around early Milky Way type galaxies, made of photons (elementary particles of light) that have struggled to escape them.

Next-generation optics offer the widest real-time views of vast regions of the sun

Tue, 01/10/2017 - 4:10pm
A groundbreaking new optical device to correct images of the Sun distorted by multiple layers of atmospheric turbulence, is providing scientists with the most precisely detailed, real-time pictures to date of solar activity occurring across vast stretches of the star's surface.

Hubble's front row seat when galaxies collide

Tue, 01/10/2017 - 12:06pm
IRAS 14348-1447 is actually a combination of two gas-rich spiral galaxies doomed by gravity to affect and tug at each other and slowly, destructively, merge into one.

How a moon slows the decay of Pluto's atmosphere

Mon, 01/09/2017 - 4:23pm
A new study provides additional insight into relationship between Pluto and its moon, Charon, and how it affects the continuous stripping of Pluto's atmosphere by solar wind. When Charon is positioned between the sun and Pluto, the research indicates that the moon can significantly reduce atmospheric loss.

How Earth's previous moons collided to form the moon: New theory

Mon, 01/09/2017 - 12:51pm
A new theory suggests the Moon we see every night is not Earth's first moon, but rather the last in a series of moons that orbited our planet. Moons formed through the process could cross orbits, collide and merge, slowly building the bigger moon we see today.

High energy x-rays used to peer beneath the obscuring skin of growing black holes

Sun, 01/08/2017 - 1:05pm
A black hole under investigation is so hidden that it requires highly sensitive observations in the highest energy X-rays to classify it as obscured. But they give themselves away when material they feed on emits high-energy X-rays that NASA's NuSTAR (Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array) mission can detect. That's how astronomers used NuSTAR to recently identify a gas-enshrouded supermassive black holes located at the center of a nearby galaxy IC 3639 some 175 million light years from Earth.

Hubble captures 'shadow play' caused by possible planet

Sat, 01/07/2017 - 11:35am
Astronomers have been surprised to see a huge shadow sweeping across a disk of dust and gas encircling the nearby, young star TW Hydrae. They have a bird's-eye view of the disk, because it is tilted face-on to Earth, and the shadow sweeps around the disk like the hands moving around a clock. But, unlike the hands of a clock, the shadow takes 16 years to make one rotation. Hubble has 18 years' worth of observations of the star; therefore, astronomers could assemble a time-lapse movie of the shadow's rotation.

Hubble detects 'exocomets' taking the plunge into a young star

Fri, 01/06/2017 - 4:30pm
Interstellar forecast for a nearby star: Raining comets! NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has discovered comets plunging onto the star HD 172555, which is a youthful 23 million years old and resides 95 light-years from Earth.

Research supports role of supernovas in measuring pace at which the universe expands

Fri, 01/06/2017 - 4:29pm
A team of research scientists recently published a paper marking the importance of Type Ia supernovas in measuring the pace at which the universe expands. Type Ia supernovas are among the very brightest cosmic explosions visible, signaling the death of stars, and their importance to cosmology cannot be understated.

Solar storms could spark soils at moon's poles

Fri, 01/06/2017 - 3:09pm
Powerful solar storms can charge up the soil in frigid, permanently shadowed regions near the lunar poles, and may possibly produce 'sparks' that could vaporize and melt the soil, perhaps as much as meteoroid impacts, according to new research. This alteration may become evident when analyzing future samples from these regions that could hold the key to understanding the history of the moon and solar system.

Hubble provides interstellar road map for Voyagers' galactic trek

Fri, 01/06/2017 - 11:38am
Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have measured the material along the Voyager 1 and 2 probes' trajectories as they move through space. Hubble data, combined with the Voyagers, have also provided new insights into how our sun travels through interstellar space.