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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 14 min ago

Solar Nebula's Lifetime: Swirling gas disk disappeared within solar system's first four million years

Fri, 02/10/2017 - 1:10pm
The gas cloud from which our solar system formed lasted about 4 million years.

What drives universe's expansion?

Fri, 02/10/2017 - 1:09pm
Experiments with advanced technology could soon test an idea developed by Albert Einstein almost exactly a century ago, and settle a longstanding puzzle over what is driving the accelerated expansion of the universe.

Dwarf star 200 light years away contains life's building blocks

Thu, 02/09/2017 - 4:38pm
Many scientists believe the Earth was initially dry and that water, carbon and nitrogen -- the building blocks for life -- likely came as a result of collisions with objects that began their lives in the cold outer reaches of our solar system. Today, scientists report discovery of the existence of just such an object -- one that once orbited a neighboring star.

NASA spacecraft prepares to fly to new heights

Thu, 02/09/2017 - 1:33pm
NASA's Magnetospheric Multiscale mission begins a three-month long journey into a new orbit, taking it twice as far out as it has previously flown, to areas where magnetic reconnection is thought to trigger auroras.

Massive comet-like object pollutes atmosphere of a white dwarf

Thu, 02/09/2017 - 1:33pm
For the first time, scientists have witnessed a massive object with the makeup of a comet being ripped apart and scattered in the atmosphere of a white dwarf, the burned-out remains of a compact star.

Ancient Earth as a model for studying hazy exoplanets

Thu, 02/09/2017 - 1:33pm
For astronomers trying to understand which distant planets might have habitable conditions, the role of atmospheric haze has been hazy. To help sort it out, a team of researchers has been looking to Earth - specifically Earth during the Archean era, an epic 1-1/2-billion-year period early in our planet's history.

A middleweight black hole is hiding at the center of a giant star cluster

Wed, 02/08/2017 - 1:17pm
All known black holes fall into two categories: small, stellar-mass black holes weighing a few suns, and supermassive black holes weighing millions or billions of suns. Astronomers expect that intermediate-mass black holes weighing 100 -- 10,000 suns also exist, but so far no conclusive proof of such middleweights has been found. Today, astronomers are announcing new evidence that an intermediate-mass black hole (IMBH) weighing 2,200 suns is hiding at the center of the globular star cluster 47 Tucanae.

Planets of red dwarf stars may face oxygen loss in habitable zones

Wed, 02/08/2017 - 1:17pm
Scientists are expanding the definition of habitable zones (the area around a star where a life-sustaining planet might lurk), taking into account the effect of stellar activity that can threaten exoplanets' atmospheres with oxygen loss.

New evidence in favor of dark matter: The bars in galaxies are spinning more slowly than we thought

Wed, 02/08/2017 - 9:40am
A new article show that bars in galaxies are rotating much more slowly than had been inferred by previous works.

A bridge of stars connects two dwarf galaxies

Tue, 02/07/2017 - 10:18pm
The Magellanic Clouds, the two largest satellite galaxies of the Milky Way, appear to be connected by a bridge stretching across 43,000 light years, according to astronomers. The discovery is based on the galactic stellar census being conducted by the European Space Observatory, Gaia.

Protostar displays a strange geometry

Tue, 02/07/2017 - 7:18pm
Using observations of molecules in the protostar L1527 taken by the ALMA observatory in northern Chile, a group of researchers has uncovered new clues to understanding how dust in a collapsing molecular cloud can shed angular momentum and penetrate beyond an area known as the 'centrifugal barrier' to find its way to the surface of the forming star.

Mysterious white dwarf pulsar discovered

Tue, 02/07/2017 - 10:53am
An exotic binary star system 380 light-years away has been identified as an elusive white dwarf pulsar, the first of its kind ever to be discovered in the universe,

What happened to the sun over 7,000 years ago?

Tue, 02/07/2017 - 9:27am
By analyzing the level of a carbon isotope in tree rings from a specimen of an ancient bristlecone pine, researchers have revealed that the sun exhibited a unique pattern of activity in 5480 BC. By comparing this event with other similar but more recent phenomena, they reported that this event may have involved a change in the sun's magnetic activity, or a number of successive solar burst emissions.

Black hole feeding frenzy discovered that breaks records

Mon, 02/06/2017 - 3:59pm
A giant black hole ripped apart a nearby star and then continued to feed off its remains for close to a decade, according to research. This black hole meal is more than 10 times longer than any other previous episode of a star’s death.

Hubble captures brilliant star death in 'rotten egg' nebula

Fri, 02/03/2017 - 1:50pm
The Calabash Nebula -- which has the technical name OH 231.8+04.2 -- is a spectacular example of the death of a low-mass star like the sun.

Evidence of 2 billion years of volcanic activity on Mars

Thu, 02/02/2017 - 9:08am
Analysis of a Martian meteorite found in Africa in 2012 has uncovered evidence of at least 2 billion years of volcanic activity on Mars. This confirms that some of the longest-lived volcanoes in the solar system may be found on the Red Planet.

Tail of stray black hole hiding in the Milky Way

Thu, 02/02/2017 - 8:57am
By analyzing the gas motion of an extraordinarily fast-moving cosmic cloud in a corner of the Milky Way, astronomers found hints of a wandering black hole hidden in the cloud. This result marks the beginning of the search for quiet black holes; millions of such objects are expected to be floating in the Milky Way although only dozens have been found to date.

Space travel visionaries solve the problem of interstellar slowdown at our stellar neighbor

Wed, 02/01/2017 - 4:24pm
In April last year, billionaire Yuri Milner announced the Breakthrough Starshot Initiative. He plans to invest 100 million US dollars in the development of an ultra-light light sail that can be accelerated to 20 percent of the speed of light to reach the Alpha Centauri star system within 20 years. The problem of how to slow down this projectile once it reaches its target remains a challenge. Now researchers propose to use the radiation and gravity of the Alpha Centauri stars to decelerate the craft. It could then even be rerouted to the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri and its Earth-like planet Proxima b.

Astronauts' brains change shape during spaceflight

Tue, 01/31/2017 - 2:25pm
MRIs before and after space missions reveal that astronauts' brains compress and expand during spaceflight, according to a new study.

Tracing the cosmic web with star-forming galaxies in the distant universe

Tue, 01/31/2017 - 12:42pm
A research group has revealed a picture of the increasing fraction of massive star-forming galaxies in the distant universe. Massive star-forming galaxies in the distant universe, about 5 billion years ago, trace large-scale structure in the universe. In the nearby universe, about 3 billion years ago, massive star-forming galaxies are not apparent. This change is consistent with the picture of galaxy evolution established by other independent studies.