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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: 21 hours 32 min ago

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.

Astronomers discover cosmic double whammy

Fri, 01/06/2017 - 9:23am
Astronomers have discovered a cosmic one-two punch never seen before. By combining data from some of the best X-ray, optical and radio telescopes in the world, researchers have found out what happens when matter ejected by a giant black hole is swept up in the merger of two enormous galaxy clusters.

Deepest X-ray image ever reveals black hole treasure trove

Thu, 01/05/2017 - 2:34pm
An unparalleled image from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory is giving astronomers the best look yet at the growth of black holes over billions of years beginning soon after the Big Bang. This is the deepest X-ray image ever obtained, collected with about 7 million seconds, or 11 and a half weeks, of Chandra observing time.

NASA moon data provides more accurate 2017 eclipse path

Thu, 01/05/2017 - 1:38pm
Thanks to elevation data of the moon from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, coupled with detailed NASA topography data of Earth, we have the most accurate maps of the path of totality for any eclipse to date.

Role of supernovae in clocking the universe

Wed, 01/04/2017 - 2:36pm
New research by cosmologists confirms the accuracy of Type Ia supernovae in measuring the pace at which the universe expands. The findings support a widely held theory that the expansion of the universe is accelerating and such acceleration is attributable to dark energy. The findings counter recent headlines that Type Ia supernova cannot be relied upon to measure the expansion of the universe.

Fast radio burst tied to distant dwarf galaxy, and perhaps magnetar

Wed, 01/04/2017 - 1:35pm
Since first detected 10 years ago, fast radio bursts have puzzled astronomers. Unlike pulsars, they flash irregularly, most only once, and only for milliseconds. And they seem to come from outside the galaxy, meaning they are very energetic. A team of astronomers has now localized the only repeating burst, to a distant dwarf galaxy. The researcher who created the rapid data collection and analysis software sees a connection to magnetars.

Hidden secrets of Orion's clouds

Wed, 01/04/2017 - 10:36am
This spectacular new image is one of the largest near-infrared high-resolution mosaics of the Orion A molecular cloud, the nearest known massive star factory, lying about 1350 light-years from Earth. It reveals many young stars and other objects normally buried deep inside the dusty clouds.