Popular Science articles about Astronomy & Space

A small glimpse of one region, a tenth of the full area of the Herschel ATLAS images. Everything in this image, apart from the picture of the moon, which has just been placed there to show the area of sky covered by the survey and the small square that shows the area covered by the Hubble Deep Field, consists of far-infrared emission from cosmic dust.

Hubble nets a cosmic tadpole

In this new image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, a firestorm of star birth is lighting up one end of the diminutive galaxy LEDA 36252 -- also known as Kiso 5649.This new image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows a cosmic tadpole, with its bright head and elongated tail, wriggling through the inky black pool of space. Tadpole galaxies...

Clandestine black hole may represent new population

By combining data from Chandra and several other telescopes, astronomers have identified the true nature of an unusual source in the Milky Way galaxy. This discovery implies that there could be a much larger number of black holes in the Galaxy that have previously been unaccounted for. The images on the left show X-rays from Chandra and an optical image from Hubble of a large area around the source VLA J2130+12, including M15. The images on the right show the source VLA J2130+12 that is bright in radio waves, but can only be giving off a very small amount of X-rays. These pieces of information indicate the source contains a black hole with a few times the mass of the Sun.For about two decades, astronomers have known about an object called VLA J213002.08+120904 (VLA J2130+12 for short). Although it is close to the line of sight to the globular cluster...

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KM3NeT unveils detailed plans for largest neutrino telescope in the world

KM3NeT - a European collaboration pioneering the deployment of kilometre cubed arrays of neutrino detectors off the Mediterranean coast - has reported in detail on the scientific aims, technology and...

Successful first observations of galactic center with GRAVITY

This artist's impression shows stars orbiting the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way. In 2018 one of these stars, S2, will pass very close to the black hole and this event will be the best opportunity to study the effects of very strong gravity and test the predictions of Einstein's general relativity in the near future.
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The GRAVITY instrument on the ESO Very Large Telescope Interferometer is the most powerful tool for measuring the positions of these stars in existence and it was successfully tested on the S2 star in the summer of 2016. The orbit of S2 is shown in red and the position of the central black hole is marked with a red cross.The GRAVITY instrument is now operating with the four 8.2-metre Unit Telescopes of ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT - http://www.eso.org/public/teles-instr/paranal/) , and even from early test...

Discovery of newborn exoplanet could help explain planetary evolution

A team of international researchers have discovered the youngest fully-formed exoplanet ever detected, orbiting a young star 500 light years from Earth.

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'Space tsunami' causes the third Van Allen Belt

This is an illustration to explain the dynamics of the ultra-relativistic third Van Allen radiation belt, by Andy Kale.Earth's magnetosphere, the region of space dominated by Earth's magnetic field, protects our planet from the harsh battering of the solar wind. Like a protective shield, the magnetosphere absorbs and...

Astrophysicists release new study of one of the first stars

No one has yet observed the first stars that formed in the Milky Way. In all likelihood, they will never be directly observed, because the first stars are massive,...

ALMA detected the most distant oxygenstem 2

Many young bright stars are located in the galaxy and ionize the gas inside and around the galaxy. Green color indicates the ionized oxygen detected by ALMA, whereas purple shows the distribution of ionized hydrogen detected by the Subaru Telescope.Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) detected a clear signal from oxygen in a galaxy located 13.1 billion light-years away from us. This is the most distant oxygen...

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First detection of methyl alcohol in a planet-forming disc

This artist's impression shows the closest known protoplanetary disc, around the star TW Hydrae in the huge constellation of Hydra (The Female Watersnake). The organic molecule methyl alcohol (methanol) has been found by the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA) in this disc. This is the first such detection of the compound in a young planet-forming disc.The protoplanetary disc around the young star TW Hydrae is the closest known example to Earth, at a distance of only about 170 light-years. As such it is an ideal...

Writing their name in the stars: Citizen scientists discover huge galaxy cluster

A radio contour overlay showing the newly discovered Matorny-Terentev Cluster RGZ-CL J0823.2+0333.Two volunteer participants in an international citizen science project have had a rare galaxy cluster that they found named after them.

Jupiter awaits arrival of Juno

In preparation for the imminent arrival of NASA's Juno spacecraft in July 2016, astronomers used ESO's Very Large Telescope to obtain spectacular new infrared images of Jupiter using the VISIR instrument. They are part of a campaign to create high-resolution maps of the giant planet to inform the work to be undertaken by Juno over the following months, helping astronomers to better understand the gas giant.

This false-color image was created by selecting and combining the best images obtained from many short VISIR exposures at a wavelength of 5 micrometers.A team led by Leigh Fletcher of the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom are presenting new images of Jupiter at the UK's Royal Astronomical Society's National...

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When it comes to brown dwarfs, 'how far?' is a key question

An illustration of parallax.Brown dwarfs are sometimes called failed stars. They're stars' dim, low-mass siblings and they fade in brightness over time. They're fascinating to astronomers for a variety of reasons, but much...

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Scientists begin modeling universe with Einstein's full theory of general relativity

In a simulation of the universe without commonly made simplifications, galaxy profiles float atop a grid representing the spacetime background shaped by the distribution of matter. Regions of blue color contain more matter, which generates a deeper gravitational potential. Regions devoid of matter, darker in color, have a shallower potential.Research teams on both sides of the Atlantic have shown that precise modeling of the universe and its contents will change the detailed understanding of the evolution of the universe...

Hubble confirms new dark spot on Neptune

This new Hubble Space Telescope image confirms the presence of a dark vortex in the atmosphere of Neptune. On the left, the full visible-light image shows a dark vortex near and below a patch of bright clouds in the planet's southern hemisphere.  The dark spot measures roughly 3,000 miles across.  On the right, Neptune's dark vortices are typically only best seen at blue wavelengths.New images obtained on May 16, 2016, by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope confirm the presence of a dark vortex in the atmosphere of Neptune. Though similar features were seen during...

Research bolsters case for a present-day subsurface ocean on Pluto

The New Horizons spacecraft spied extensional faults on Pluto, a sign that the dwarf planet has undergone a global expansion possibly due to the slow freezing of a subsurface ocean. A new analysis by Brown University scientists bolsters that idea, and suggests that ocean is likely still there today.When the NASA's New Horizons spacecraft buzzed by Pluto last year, it revealed tantalizing clues that the dwarf planet might have -- or had at one time -- a liquid...

'Electric wind' can strip Earth-like planets of oceans, atmospheres

This graphic compares surface temperatures and gravity on Earth and Venus. The two planets are similar sizes and have similar gravity -- but Venus is bone dry and more than 10 times as hot as our home planet. Recent NASA research describes a key process that removes water from the Venusian atmosphere.Venus has an "electric wind" strong enough to remove the components of water from its upper atmosphere, which may have played a significant role in stripping Earth's twin planet of...

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RIT professors create new method for identifying black holes

Rochester Institute of Technology professors have developed a faster, more accurate way to assess gravitational wave signals and infer the astronomical sources that made them.

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Unexpected excess of giant planets in star cluster

This artist's impression shows a hot Jupiter planet orbiting close to one of the stars in the rich old star cluster Messier 67, in the constellation of Cancer (The Crab). Astronomers have found far more planets like this in the cluster than expected. This surprise result was obtained using a number of telescopes and instruments, among them the HARPS spectrograph at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile. The denser environment in a cluster will cause more frequent interactions between planets and nearby stars, which may explain the excess of hot Jupiters.An international team of astronomers have found that there are far more planets of the hot Jupiter type than expected in a cluster of stars called Messier 67. This surprising...

Breaking out: How black hole jets punch out of their galaxies

A simulation of the powerful jets generated by supermassive black holes at the centers of the largest galaxies explains why some burst forth as bright beacons visible across the universe,...

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Life's first handshake: Chiral molecule detected in interstellar space

Scientists applaud the first detection of a "handed" molecule, (propylene oxide) in interstellar space. It was detected, primarily with the NSF's Green Bank Telescope, near the center of our Galaxy in Sagittarius (Sgr) B2, a massive star-forming region. Propylene oxide is one of a class of so-called "chiral" molecules -- molecules that have an identical chemical composition, but right- and left-handed versions. Chiral molecules are essential for life and their discovery in deep space may help scientists understand why life on Earth relies on a certain handedness to perform key biological functions. Sgr A* in this image indicates the supermassive black hole at the center of our Galaxy. The white features in the composite image are the bright radio sources in the center of our Galaxy as seen with the VLA. The background image is from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. The two "handed" versions of propylene oxide are illustrated. The "R" and "S" designations are for the Latin terms rectus (right) and sinister (left).Like a pair of human hands, certain organic molecules have mirror-image versions of themselves, a chemical property known as chirality. These so-called "handed" molecules are essential for biology and have...

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Failed star creates its own spotlight in the universe

John Gizis, a professor at the University of Delaware, has discovered an "ultracool" brown dwarf star that can generate flares stronger than the sun's.Although astronomers often refer to brown dwarfs as "failed stars," scientists at the University of Delaware have discovered that at least one of these dim celestial objects can emit powerful...

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