Popular Science articles about Astronomy & Space

This is an artistic illustration of the gas giant planet HD 209458b in the constellation Pegasus. To the surprise of astronomers, they have found much less water vapor in the hot world's atmosphere than standard planet-formation models predict.

Australian researchers pioneer a 'Google street view' of galaxies

This is associate Professor Scott Croom (CAASTRO/University of Sydney) with the SAMI instrument during its construction.A new home-grown instrument based on bundles of optical fibres is giving Australian astronomers the first 'Google street view' of the cosmos -- incredibly detailed views of huge numbers of...

UEA research shows oceans vital for possibility for alien life

Researchers at the University of East Anglia have made an important step in the race to discover whether other planets could develop and sustain life.

Landsat looks to the moon

Every full moon, Landsat 8 turns its back on Earth. As the satellite's orbit takes it to the nighttime side of the planet, Landsat 8 pivots to point at the...

Radio-burst discovery deepens astrophysics mystery

The Arecibo Observatory is shown.The discovery of a split-second burst of radio waves by scientists using the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico provides important new evidence of mysterious pulses that appear to come...

NASA finds friction from tides could help distant earths survive, and thrive

Planets in eccentric orbits can experience powerful tidal forces. A planet covered by a very thick ice shell (left) is springy enough to flex a great deal, generating a lot of internal friction and heat. Some terrestrial planets (right) also will flex, especially with partially molten inner layers.As anybody who has started a campfire by rubbing sticks knows, friction generates heat. Now, computer modeling by NASA scientists shows that friction could be the key to survival for...

Astronomers bring the third dimension to a doomed star's outburst

A new shape model of the Homunculus Nebula reveals protrusions, trenches, holes and irregularities in its molecular hydrogen emission. The protrusions appear near a dust skirt seen at the nebula's center in visible light (inset) but not found in this study, so they constitute different structures.In the middle of the 19th century, the massive binary system Eta Carinae underwent an eruption that ejected at least 10 times the sun's mass and made it the second-brightest...

A young star's age can be gleamed from nothing but sound waves

In a young region like the so-called Christmas Tree Cluster, stars are still in the process of forming. A star is 'born' once it becomes optically visible (bottom right). During its further evolution, the star contracts and gets smaller in size and hotter until the core temperature is sufficient to start nuclear burning of hydrogen. This marks the end of the stellar childhood phase (bottom left). While the young star evolves from its birth to the beginning of hydrogen burning, its pulsation properties change: the least evolved, i.e., youngest, stars pulsate slower and the most evolved while the oldest stars pulsate faster.Determining the age of stars has long been a challenge for astronomers. In experiments published in the journal Science, researchers at KU Leuven's Institute for Astronomy show that 'infant' stars...

Mysterious features on Titan reveal the moon's seasonal changes, says Stanford scientist

At first glance, Titan has little in common with Earth. The largest moon of Saturn, temperatures on Titan's surface dip nearly 300 F below zero, its seas slosh with liquid...

New NASA model gives glimpse into the invisible world of electric asteroids

This is a concept image of an astronaut preparing to take samples from a captured asteroid. The sun is in the background; NASA wants to know more about electrical activity generated by the interaction of solar wind and radiation with asteroids.Space may appear empty -- a soundless vacuum, but it's not an absolute void. It flows with electric activity that is not visible to our eyes. NASA is developing plans...

AGU: Voyager spacecraft might not have reached interstellar space

In 2012, the Voyager mission team announced that the Voyager 1 spacecraft had passed into interstellar space, traveling further from Earth than any other manmade object.

Mysterious dance of dwarfs may force a cosmic rethink

This is an artist's impression of the coherent orbit of dwarf galaxies about a large galaxy.The discovery that many small galaxies throughout the universe do not 'swarm' around larger ones like bees do but 'dance' in orderly disc-shaped orbits is a challenge to our understanding...

Asteroid Vesta to reshape theories of planet formation

This is an infographic of Asteroid Vesta.EPFL researchers have a better understanding of the asteroid Vesta and its internal structure, thanks to numerical simulations and data from the space mission Dawn. Their findings, published today in...

Out of an hours-long explosion, a stand-in for the first stars

In this artist's rendering of GRB 130925A, a sheath of hot, X-ray-emitting gas (red) surrounds a particle jet (white) blasting through the star's surface at nearly the speed of light. The source may have been a metal-poor blue supergiant.Astronomers analyzing a long-lasting blast of high-energy light observed in 2013 report finding features strikingly similar to those expected from an explosion from the universe's earliest stars. If this interpretation...

Sun-like stars reveal their ages

This is an artist's conception of a hypothetical exoplanet orbiting a yellow, sun-like star. Astronomers have measured the ages of 22 sun-like stars using their spins, in a method called gyrochronology. Before now, only two Sun-like stars had measured spins and ages.Defining what makes a star "Sun-like" is as difficult as defining what makes a planet "Earth-like." A solar twin should have a temperature, mass, and spectral type similar to our...

Cosmic grains of dust formed in supernova explosion

This is an artistic rendition of dust formation around a supernova explosion. The observations with the X-shooter on the VLT show that dust formation has two stages, which begin shortly after the explosion, but continuing long after.There are billions of stars and planets in the universe. A star is glowing sphere of gas, while planets like Earth are made up of solids. The planets are formed...

Carbon monoxide predicts 'red and dead' future of gas guzzler galaxy

This is Dr. Minh Huynh.Astronomers have studied the carbon monoxide in a galaxy over 12 billion light years from Earth and discovered that it's running out of gas, quite literally, and headed for a...

Supermassive black hole blows molecular gas out of galaxy at 1 million kilometers per hour

New research by academics at the University of Sheffield has solved a long-standing mystery surrounding the evolution of galaxies, deepening our understanding of the future of the Milky Way.

Controversial clues of 2 'Goldilocks planets' that might support life are proven false

Mysteries about controversial signals coming from a dwarf star considered to be a prime target in the search for extraterrestrial life now have been solved in research led by scientists at Penn State University. The scientists have proven, for the first time, that some of the signals, which were suspected to be coming from two planets orbiting the star at a distance where liquid water could potentially exist, actually are coming from events inside the star itself, not from so-called "Goldilocks planets" where conditions are just right for supporting life. The study is published by the journal <i>Science</i> in its early online <i>Science</i> Express edition on July 3, 2014, and also in a later print edition of the journal.
This image shows the location of the six candidate planets that were believed to orbit the red dwarf star Gliese as of 2010. Blue indicates candidate planets in the habitable zone where conditions might be able to support life, orange indicates detections in the too-hot region that is too close to the star, green indicates detections in the too-cold region farther away from the star.Mysteries about controversial signals coming from a dwarf star considered to be a prime target in the search for extraterrestrial life now have been solved in research led by scientists...

NASA's STEREO maps much larger solar atmosphere than previously observed

Scientists used these observations of the sun's atmosphere (the bright light of the sun itself is blocked by the black circle at the middle) from NASA's Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory on Aug. 5, 2007, to define the outer limits of the solar atmosphere, the corona.Surrounding the sun is a vast atmosphere of solar particles, through which magnetic fields swarm, solar flares erupt, and gigantic columns of material rise, fall and jostle each other around....

Black hole trio holds promise for gravity wave hunt

The discovery of three closely orbiting supermassive black holes in a galaxy more than four billion light years away could help astronomers in the search for gravitational waves: the 'ripples...

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