Popular Science articles about Astronomy & Space

This close-up image shows the most active pit, known as Seth_01, observed on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko by the Rosetta spacecraft. A new study suggests that this pit and others like it could be sinkholes, formed by a surface collapse process similar to the way these features form on Earth.

Giant galaxy is still growing

The huge halo around giant elliptical galaxy Messier 87 appears on this very deep image. An excess of light in the top-right part of this halo, and the motion of planetary nebulae in the galaxy, are the last remaining signs of a medium-sized galaxy that recently collided with Messier 87.

The image also reveals many other galaxies forming the Virgo Cluster, of which Messier 87 is the largest member. In particular, the two galaxies at the top right of the frame are nicknamed 'the Eyes'.Astronomers expect that galaxies grow by swallowing smaller galaxies. But the evidence is usually not easy to see -- just as the remains of the water thrown from a glass...

Neutron star's echoes give astronomers a new measuring stick

Circinus X-1 is a bizarre and sometimes frenetic source of X-rays in our galaxy. Residing in the plane of the Milky Way, where it cannot be observed by optical telescopes because of obscuring clouds of interstellar dust, Circinus X-1 is the glowing husk of a binary star system that exploded in a supernova event just 2,500 years ago. It consists of a very dense neutron star locked in the orbital embrace of a companion star. The system is called an X-ray binary because it flashes in X-rays as material from the companion star is sucked onto the dense neutron star.In late 2013, when the neutron star at the heart of one of our galaxy's oddest supernovae gave off a massive burst of X-rays, the resulting echoes -- created when...

Hubble views a bizarre cosmic quartet

This new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image shows four of the seven members of galaxy group HCG 16.
This quartet is composed of (from left to right) NGC 839, NGC 838, NGC 835, and NGC 833 -- four of the seven galaxies that make up the entire group. They shine brightly with their glowing golden centers and wispy tails of gas, set against a background dotted with much more distant galaxies.This new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image shows a gathering of four cosmic companions. This quartet forms part of a group of galaxies known as the Hickson Compact Group 16,...

Study suggests active volcanism on Venus

This perspective view of the geology of Venus superposed on topography shows a broad topographic rise (Atla Regio) in the center (red, with radiating purple spokes) and surrounding volcanic plains (green and blue).
<p>The large Venus volcano Ozza Mons (red, center) is several hundreds of miles across.  Radiating from this rise are numerous tectonic rift zones (mapped in purple), regions of stretched and faulted crust of Venus.  Although geologically relatively recent in the 4.5 billion year history of Venus, these terrains could be many hundreds of million years old and no longer active. 
<p>New images and measurements from the European Space Agency Venus Express Camera, however, show evidence that parts of the rift zones are the locations of active volcanism, providing compelling evidence that Venus in general, and the rift zones in particular, continue to be sites of volcanic and tectonic activity well into the modern era.   
<p>In this image, color data was obtained from the global geological map of Venus (Ivanov & Head, 2011), texture data was acquired from Magellan Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) Left-Look FMAP (full resolution radar map) global mosaic, both draped over Magellan Global Topography data.

<p>Ivanov, M. A., and J. W. Head III (2011), Global geological map of Venus, Planet. Space Sci., 59, 1559-1600, doi: 10.1016/j.pss.2011.07.008.An international team of scientists has found some of the best evidence yet that Venus, Earth's nearest neighbor, is volcanically active.

ALMA weighs supermassive black hole at center of distant spiral galaxy

This is a composite image of the barred spiral galaxy NGC 1097. By studying the motion of two molecules, ALMA was able to determine that the supermassive black hole at the galactic center has a mass 140 million times greater than our sun. The ALMA data is in red (HCO+) and green/orange (HCN) superimposed on an optical image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.Supermassive black holes lurk at the center of every large galaxy. These cosmic behemoths can be millions to billions of times more massive than the Sun. Determining just how massive,...

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Astronomers find best observational evidence of first-generation stars in the universe

This artist's impression shows CR7 a very distant galaxy discovered using ESO's Very Large Telescope. It is by far the brightest galaxy yet found in the early universe and there is strong evidence that examples of the first generation of stars lurk within it.Astronomers using the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT) have discovered by far the brightest galaxy yet found in the early universe and found strong...

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Scientists find methane in Mars meteorites

Scientists found methane gas in samples taken from Martian meteorites.An international team of researchers has discovered traces of methane in Martian meteorites, a possible clue in the search for life on the Red Planet.

Small thunderstorms may add up to massive cyclones on Saturn

For the last decade, astronomers have observed curious "hotspots" on Saturn's poles. In 2008, NASA's Cassini spacecraft beamed back close-up images of these hotspots, revealing them to be immense cyclones,...

A celestial butterfly emerges from its dusty cocoon

Some of the sharpest images ever made with ESO's Very Large Telescope have for the first time revealed what appears to be an ageing star in the early stages of forming a butterfly-like planetary nebula. These observations of the red giant star L2 Puppis from the ZIMPOL mode of the newly installed SPHERE instrument also reveal a close stellar companion. The dying stages of the lives of stars continue to pose many riddles for astronomers.Some of the sharpest images ever made with ESO's Very Large Telescope have, for the first time, revealed what appears to be an ageing star giving birth to a butterfly-like...

New study shows the dynamics of active swarms in alternating fields

Researchers from Uppsala University, together with colleagues at University College Dublin, have studied the dynamics of active swarms using computer simulations and experiments on unicellular algae. The team not only...

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Unexpectedly little black-hole monsters rapidly suck up surrounding matter

Multi-color optical image around the ULX "X-1" (indicated by the arrow) in the dwarf galaxy Holmberg II, is located in the direction of the constellation Ursa Major, at a distance of 11 million light-years. The image size corresponds to 1,100 &times; 900 light-years at the galaxy. The red color represents spectral line emission from hydrogen atoms.Using the Subaru Telescope, researchers at the Special Astrophysical Observatory in Russia and Kyoto University in Japan have found evidence that enigmatic objects in nearby galaxies - called ultra-luminous X-ray...

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NASA's Hubble sees a 'behemoth' bleeding atmosphere around a warm exoplanet

This artist's concept shows "The Behemoth," an enormous comet-like cloud of hydrogen bleeding off of a warm, Neptune-sized planet just 30 light-years from Earth. Also depicted is the parent star, which is a faint red dwarf named GJ 436. The hydrogen is evaporating from the planet due to extreme radiation from the star. A phenomenon this large has never before been seen around any exoplanet.Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have discovered an immense cloud of hydrogen dubbed "The Behemoth" bleeding from a planet orbiting a nearby star. The enormous, comet-like feature is about...

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Astronomers discover more than 800 dark galaxies in the famous Coma Cluster

This is a color image made with B, R, and i-band images from the Subaru Telescope. A small region of 6 x 6 arcmin is cut out from large Coma Cluster images. Yellow circles show two of the 47 dark galaxies discovered last year, and green circles are the ones discovered in this new study.A group of researchers from the Stony Brook University (the State University of New York) and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan has discovered 854 "ultra dark galaxies" in the...

Titan's atmosphere even more Earth-like than previously thought

Scientists at UCL have observed how a widespread polar wind is driving gas from the atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan. The team analysed data gathered over seven years by the...

NASA's Hubble sees the 'teenage years' of quasars

What was happening in the universe 12 billion years ago? The universe was smaller and so crowded that galaxies collided with each other much more frequently than today. Hubble astronomers looked at dusty quasars where their glow was suppressed by dust, allowing a view of the quasar's surroundings.Astronomers have used the Hubble Space Telescope's infrared vision to uncover the mysterious early formative years of quasars, the brightest objects in the universe. Hubble's sharp images unveil chaotic collisions...

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CU-Boulder-led study shows moon engulfed in permanent, lopsided dust cloud

The moon is engulfed in a permanent but lopsided dust cloud that increases in density when annual events like the Geminids spew shooting stars, according to a new study led...

Astronomers create array of Earth-like planet models

This is an artist's impression of a young Earth.To sort out the biological intricacies of Earth-like planets, astronomers have developed computer models that examine how ultraviolet radiation from other planets' nearby suns may affect those worlds, according to...

What's on the surface of a black hole?

Are black holes the ruthless killers we've made them out to be?

Lonely galaxy lost in space

NGC 6503, has found itself in a lonely position, at the edge of a strangely empty patch of space called the Local Void. 
The Hubble Advanced Camera for Surveys data for NGC 6503 were taken in April 2003, and the Wide Field Camera 3 data were taken in August 2013.Most galaxies are clumped together in groups or clusters. A neighboring galaxy is never far away. But this galaxy, known as NGC 6503, has found itself in a lonely position,...

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Most detailed view ever of star formation in the distant universe

ALMA's Long Baseline Campaign has produced a spectacularly detailed image of a distant galaxy being gravitationally lensed, revealing star-forming regions - something that has never seen before at this level of detail in a galaxy so remote. The new observations are far more detailed than any previously made of such a distant galaxy, including those made using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, and reveal clumps of star formation in the galaxy equivalent to giant versions of the Orion Nebula.

<p>The left panel shows the foreground lensing galaxy (observed with Hubble), and the gravitationally lensed galaxy SDP.81, which forms an almost perfect Einstein Ring, is hardly visible.

<p>The middle image shows the sharp ALMA image of the Einstein ring, with the foreground lensing galaxy being invisible to ALMA. The resulting reconstructed image of the distant galaxy (right) using sophisticated models of the magnifying gravitational lens, reveal fine structures within the ring that have never been seen before: Several dust clouds within the galaxy, which are thought to be giant cold molecular clouds, the birthplaces of stars and planets.ALMA's Long Baseline Campaign has produced a spectacularly detailed image of a distant galaxy being gravitationally lensed. The image shows a magnified view of the galaxy's star-forming regions, the likes...

Alice instrument's ultraviolet close-up provides a surprising discovery about comet's atmosphere

A close-up of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko by NASA's ultraviolet instrument surprised scientists by revealing that electrons close to the comet's surface -- not photons from the Sun as had been believed...

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