Popular Science articles about Astronomy & Space

Our Milky Way galaxy and its small companions are surrounded by a giant halo of million-degree gas (seen in blue in this artists' rendition) that is only visible to X-ray telescopes in space.  University of Michigan astronomers discovered that this massive hot halo spins in the same direction as the Milky Way disk and at a comparable speed.

World's most sensitive dark matter detector completes search

The LUX Dark Matter Experiment operates a mile underground at the Sanford Underground Research Facility. It's location helps shield the detector from background radiation that could confound a dark matter signal.The Large Underground Xenon (LUX) dark matter experiment, which operates beneath a mile of rock at the Sanford Underground Research Facility in the Black Hills of South Dakota, has completed...

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New detector at South Pole shows early success at neutrino hunting

University of Kansas professor David Besson pulling hardware out of a hole with a previously-deployed antenna.In the second it takes to read these words, 65 billion neutrinos will shoot through every square centimeter of your body. Luckily, these infinitesimal particles don't do any harm --...

Asteroid that formed moon's Imbrium Basin may have been protoplanet-sized

Grooves and gashes associated with the Imbrium Basin on the moon have long been puzzling. New research shows how some of these features were formed and uses them to estimate the size of the Imbrium impactor. The study suggests it was big enough to be considered a protoplanet.Around 3.8 billion years ago, an asteroid more than 150 miles across, roughly equal to the length of New Jersey, slammed into the Moon and created the Imbrium Basin --...

NASA's Kepler confirms 100+ exoplanets during its K2 mission

Image montage showing the Maunakea Observatories, Kepler Space Telescope, and night sky with K2 Fields and discovered planetary systems (dots) overlaid. An international team of scientists discovered more than 100 planets based on images from Kepler operating in the 'K2 Mission'. The team confirmed and characterized the planets using a suite of telescopes worldwide, including four on Maunakea (the twin telescopes of Keck Observatory, the Gemini­North Telescope, and the Infrared Telescope Facility). The planet image on the right is an artist's impression of a representative planet.An international team of astronomers led by the University of Arizona has discovered and confirmed a treasure trove of new worlds using NASA's Kepler spacecraft on its K2 mission. Among...

Astronomers map a record-breaking 1.2 million galaxies to study the secrets of dark energy

This is one slice through the map of the large-scale structure of the Universe from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and its Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey. Each dot in this picture indicates the position of a galaxy 6 billion years into the past. The image covers about 1/20th of the sky, a slice of the Universe 6 billion light-years wide, 4.5 billion light-years high, and 500 million light-years thick. Color indicates distance from Earth, ranging from yellow on the near side of the slice to purple on the far side. Galaxies are highly clustered, revealing superclusters and voids whose presence is seeded in the first fraction of a second after the Big Bang. This image contains 48,741 galaxies, about 3% of the full survey dataset. Grey patches are small regions without survey data.Astronomers announced this week the sharpest results yet on the properties of dark energy. Hundreds of scientists, among them Marcos Pellejero Ibañez and Jose Alberto Rubiño from the Instituto...

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NASA camera catches moon 'photobombing' Earth

On July 5, 2016, the moon passed between NOAA's DSCOVR satellite and Earth. NASA's EPIC camera aboard DSCOVR snapped these images over a period of about four hours. In this set, the far side of the moon, which is never seen from Earth, passes by. In the backdrop, Earth rotates, starting with the Australia and Pacific and gradually revealing Asia and Africa.For only the second time in a year, a NASA camera aboard the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite captured a view of the moon as it moved in front...

Dawn maps Ceres craters where ice can accumulate

At the poles of Ceres, scientists have found craters that are permanently in shadow (indicated by blue markings). Such craters are called "cold traps" if they remain below about minus 240 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 151 degrees Celsius). These shadowed craters may have been collecting ice for billions of years because they are so cold. 

This image was created using data from NASA's Dawn spacecraft.Scientists with NASA's Dawn mission have identified permanently shadowed regions on the dwarf planet Ceres. Most of these areas likely have been cold enough to trap water ice for a...

NASA sees Super Typhoon Nepartak approaching Taiwan

The VIIRS instrument aboard NASA-NOAA-DOD's Suomi NPP satellite captured a close-up image of the storm's eye surrounded by powerful thunderstorms.As super typhoon Nepartak NASA satellites are gathering data on wind, temperature, rainfall, and cloud extent. NASA's Terra satellite, the Suomi NPP satellite and the RapidScat instrument have been analyzing...

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Powerful processes at work

While many other images of the famous Crab Nebula have focused on the filaments in the outer part of the nebula, this image shows the very heart of the Crab Nebula including the central neutron star -- it is the rightmost of the two bright stars near the center of this image.This new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image reveals the beating heart of one of the most visually appealing, and most studied, supernova remnants known -- the Crab Nebula. At the...

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A new look at the galaxy-shaping power of black holes

<p>Hitomi employed an X-ray spectrometer which measures the Doppler shifts in emissions from the plasma; those shifts can then be used to calculate the speed at which different parts of the plasma are moving.  At the heart of the spectrometer is a microcalorimeter; cooled to just one-twentieth of a degree above absolute zero, the device records the precise energy of each incoming X-ray photon.  

<p>Getting an X-ray satellite equipped with a microcalorimeter into space has proved daunting: McNamara was deeply involved with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, launched in 1999, that was initially set to include a microcalorimeter, but the project was scaled back due to budget constraints, and the calorimeter was dropped. Another mission with the Japanese space agency known as ASTRO-E was equipped with a microcalorimeter; it was set for launch in 2000, but the rocket exploded shortly after liftoff.  A third effort, Japan's Suzaku satellite, launched in 2005, but a leak in the cooling system destroyed the calorimeter. Hitomi launched and deployed perfectly, but a series of problems with the attitude control system caused the satellite to spin out of control and break up.Data from a now-defunct X-ray satellite is providing new insights into the complex tug-of-war between galaxies, the hot plasma that surrounds them, and the giant black holes that lurk in...

Mars rover's laser can now target rocks all by itself

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover autonomously selects some targets for the laser and telescopic camera of its ChemCam instrument. For example, on-board software analyzed the Navcam image at left, chose the target indicated with a yellow dot, and pointed ChemCam for laser shots and the image at right.New software is enabling ChemCam, the laser spectrometer on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover, to select rock targets autonomously -- the first time autonomous target selection is available for an instrument...

NASA's Hubble looks to the final frontier

This view of a massive cluster of galaxies unveils a very cluttered-looking universe filled with galaxies near and far. Some are distorted like a funhouse mirror through a "space warp" phenomenon first predicted by Einstein a century ago.Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the TV series "Star Trek" has captured the public's imagination with the signature phrase, "To boldly go where no one has gone before." NASA's...

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First atmospheric study of Earth-sized exoplanets reveals rocky worlds

Artist's view of planets transiting a red dwarf star in the TRAPPIST-1 system.On May 2, scientists from MIT, the University of Liège, and elsewhere announced they had discovered a planetary system, a mere 40 light years from Earth, that hosts three potentially...

X marks the spot at the center of the Milky Way galaxy

WISE allsky map of the sky showing the Milky Way Galaxy. The central circle indicates the centre of the Galaxy and the inset shows an enhanced view of the x-shaped structure.Two astronomers -- with the help of Twitter -- have uncovered the strongest evidence yet that an enormous X-shaped structure made of stars lies within the central bulge of the...

NASA looks at Hurricane Darby's cloud-filled eye, winds

On July 16, NASA's RapidScat instrument found Darby's strongest winds (red) greater than 30 meters per second (67 mph/108 kph) around the entire storm with the exception of the southwestern quadrant.NASA satellite imagery revealed a cloud-filled eye in a weaker Hurricane Darby. Although obscured by clouds in previous days, the eye was apparent in wind data from NASA's RapidScat instrument.

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Stellar outburst brings water snowline into view

Artist impression of the water snowline around the young star V883 Orionis, as detected with ALMA.A violent outburst by the young star V883 Orionis has given astronomers their first view of a water "snowline" in a protoplanetary disk - the transition point around the star...

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Ancient supernovae buffeted Earth's biology with radiation dose, researcher says

Research published in April provided "slam dunk" evidence of two prehistoric supernovae exploding about 300 light years from Earth. Now, a follow-up investigation based on computer modeling shows those supernovae...

Study explains why galaxies stop creating stars

ESO 137-001 is a perfect example of a spiral galaxy zipping through a crammed cluster of galaxies. Gas is being pulled from its disc in a process called ram pressure stripping. The galaxy appears to be losing gas as it plunges through the Norma galaxy cluster.Galaxies come in three main shapes - elliptical, spiral (such as the Milky Way) and irregular. They can be massive or small. To add to this mix, galaxies can also...

Newly discovered planet has 3 suns

<p>This artist's impression shows a view of the triple star system HD 131399 from close to the giant planet orbiting in the system. The planet is known as HD 131399Ab and appears at the lower-left of the picture.

<p>Located about 340 light years from Earth in the constellation of Centaurus (The Centaur), HD 131399Ab is about 16 million years old, making it also one of the youngest exoplanets discovered to date, and one of very few directly imaged planets. With a temperature of around 580 degrees Celsius and having an estimated mass of four Jupiter masses, it is also one of the coldest and least massive directly imaged exoplanets.If you thought Luke Skywalker's home planet, Tatooine, was a strange world with its two suns in the sky, imagine this: a planet where you'd either experience constant daylight or...

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Astronomers find evidence of water clouds in first spectrum of coldest brown dwarf

Since its detection in 2014, the brown dwarf known as WISE 0855 has fascinated astronomers. Only 7.2 light-years from Earth, it is the coldest known object outside of our solar...

NASA sees Hurricane Blas closing its eye

On July 7 at 21:40 UTC (5:21 p.m. EDT), the VIIRS instrument aboard NASA-NOAA's Suomi NPP satellite captured this visible image of Hurricane Blas in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.Hurricane Blas is weakening in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and when the Suomi NPP satellite passed overhead visible imagery showed that the eye of the storm had become filled with...

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