Popular Science articles about Astronomy & Space

Meteorite may represent 'bulk background' of Mars' battered crust

NWA 7034, a meteorite found a few years ago in the Moroccan desert, is like no other rock ever found on Earth. It's been shown to be a 4.4 billion-year-old chunk of the Martian crust, and according to a new...

Some potentially habitable planets began as gaseous, Neptune-like worlds

Two phenomena known to inhibit the potential habitability of planets -- tidal forces and vigorous stellar activity -- might instead help chances for life on certain planets orbiting low-mass stars,...

The 2 faces of Mars

Mars has two differently shaped hemispheres: the lowlands of the northern hemisphere and the volcanic highlands (yellow to red regions) of the southern hemisphere. A "giant impact" on the southern pole is suspected to be the reason for this.The two hemispheres of Mars are more different from any other planet in our solar system. Non-volcanic, flat lowlands characterise the northern hemisphere, while highlands punctuated by countless volcanoes extend...

Gigantic ring system around J1407b much larger, heavier than Saturn's

Artist's conception of the extrasolar ring system circling the young giant planet or brown dwarf J1407b is shown. The rings are shown eclipsing the young sun-like star J1407, as they would have appeared in early 2007. The best fit model is consistent with a system of at least 30 rings, and there are gaps where satellites ("exomoons") may have already formed.Astronomers at the Leiden Observatory, The Netherlands, and the University of Rochester, USA, have discovered that the ring system that they see eclipse the very young Sun-like star J1407 is...

Black hole on a diet creates a 'changing look' quasar

This artist's rendering shows the changing look quasar at full brightness.Yale University astronomers have identified the first "changing look" quasar, a gleaming object in deep space that appears to have its own dimmer switch.

Snapshot of cosmic burst of radio waves

This is a schematic illustration of CSIRO's Parkes radio telescope receiving the polarised signal from the new 'fast radio burst'.A strange phenomenon has been observed by astronomers right as it was happening -- a 'fast radio burst'. The eruption is described as an extremely short, sharp flash of radio...

Kepler proves it can still find planets

This artist's conception portrays the first planet discovered by the Kepler spacecraft during its K2 mission. A transit of the planet was teased out of K2's noisier data using ingenious computer algorithms developed by a CfA researcher. The newfound planet, HIP 116454b, has a diameter of 20,000 miles (two and a half times the size of Earth) and weighs 12 times as much. It orbits its star once every 9.1 days.To paraphrase Mark Twain, the report of the Kepler spacecraft's death was greatly exaggerated. Despite a malfunction that ended its primary mission in May 2013, Kepler is still alive and...

'Perfect storm' quenching star formation around a supermassive black hole

This is an artist impression of the central region of NGC 1266. The jets from the central black hole are creating turbulence in the surrounding molecular gas, suppressing star formation in an otherwise ideal environment to form new stars.High-energy jets powered by supermassive black holes can blast away a galaxy's star-forming fuel, resulting in so-called "red and dead" galaxies: those brimming with ancient red stars yet containing little...

Hurricane-forecast satellites will keep close eyes on the tropics

A set of eight hurricane-forecast satellites being developed at the University of Michigan is expected to give deep insights into how and where storms suddenly intensify--a little-understood process that's becoming...

Interstellar mystery solved by supercomputer simulations

Spiral structure emerges in Feedback in Realistic Environments simulation, which modeled stellar feedback on galaxy formation.An interstellar mystery of why stars form has been solved thanks to the most realistic supercomputer simulations of galaxies yet made.

Swarms of Pluto-size objects kick-up dust around adolescent Sun-like star

This is an ALMA image of the dust surrounding the star HD 107146. Dust in the outer reaches of the disk is thicker than in the inner regions, suggesting that a swarm of Pluto-size planetesimals is causing smaller objects to smash together. The dark ring-like structure in the middle portion of the disk may be evidence of a gap where a planet is sweeping its orbit clear of dust.Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) may have detected the dusty hallmarks of an entire family of Pluto-size objects swarming around an adolescent version of our own Sun.

This composite image shows two perspectives of a three-dimensional reconstruction of the Cassiopeia A supernova remnant. This new 3-D map provides the first detailed look at the distribution of stellar debris following a supernova explosion. Such 3-D reconstructions encode important information for astronomers about how massive stars actually explode. The blue-to-red colors correspond to the varying speed of the emitting gas along our line of sight. The background is a Hubble Space Telescope composite image of the supernova remnant.

The mouth of the beast

Like the gaping mouth of a gigantic celestial creature, the cometary globule CG4 glows menacingly in this image from ESO's Very Large Telescope. Although it looks huge and bright in this image it is actually a faint nebula and not easy to observe. The exact nature of CG4 remains a mystery.In 1976 several elongated comet-like objects were discovered on pictures taken with the UK Schmidt Telescope in Australia. Because of their appearance, they became known as cometary globules even though...

Bubbles from the galactic center: A key to understanding dark matter and our galaxy's past?

Compared to other galaxies, the Milky Way is a peaceful place. But it hasn't always been so sleepy. In 2010, a team of scientists working at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for...

H.E.S.S. finds three extremely luminous gamma-ray sources

Wits scientists are part of a multinational team of astronomers working on the High Energy Stereoscopic System (H.E.S.S.) telescopes that have again demonstrated its excellent capabilities in searching for high-energy...

Ocean floor dust gives new insight into supernovae

This is Dr Anton Wallner at the Nuclear Physics Department of ANU.Scientists plumbing the depths of the ocean have made a surprise finding that could change the way we understand supernovae, exploding stars way beyond our solar system.

A twist on planetary origins

Meteors that have crashed to Earth have long been regarded as relics of the early solar system. These craggy chunks of metal and rock are studded with chondrules -- tiny,...

Origin of long-standing space mystery revealed

The night side of the terrestrial magnetosphere forms a structured magnetotail, consisting of a plasma sheet at low latitudes that is sandwiched between two regions called the magnetotail lobes. The lobes consist of the regions in which Earth's magnetic field lines are directly connected to the magnetic field carried by the solar wind. Different plasma populations are observed in these regions -- plasma in the lobes is very cool, whereas the plasma sheet is more energetic. 

<P>The diagram labels by two red dots the location of an ESA Cluster satellite and NASA's IMAGE satellite on 15 September 2005, when particular conditions of the magnetic field configuration gave rise to a phenomenon known as 'theta aurora.'A University of Southampton researcher has helped solve a long-standing space mystery -- the origin of the 'theta aurora'.

Surprising theorists, stars within middle-aged clusters are of similar age

A close look at the night sky reveals that stars don't like to be alone; instead, they congregate in clusters, in some cases containing as many as several million stars....

Nuclear fragments could help uncover the origins of life-supporting planets

New research published today in the journal Physical Review Letters describes how recreating isotopes that occur when a star explodes, can help physicists understand where life-supporting elements may be found...

Researchers detect possible signal from dark matter

Could there finally be tangible evidence for the existence of dark matter in the Universe? After sifting through reams of X-ray data, scientists in EPFL's Laboratory of Particle Physics and...

SwRI scientists develop solar observatory for use on suborbital manned space missions

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) is preparing to unveil a new, miniature portable solar observatory for use onboard a commercial, manned suborbital spacecraft. The SwRI Solar Instrument Pointing Platform (SSIPP) will...

More news about Astronomy & Space

Breaking science news from the newsfeed about Astronomy & Space