Popular Science articles about Astronomy & Space

This image, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, shows a part of the galaxy cluster, Abell 1689, whose gravitational field amplifies the distant galaxy behind it. The distant dust-filled galaxy in zoom in the box.

SOHO sees something new near the sun

An unusual comet skimmed past the sun on Feb 18-21, 2015, as captured by the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO.

A new view of the solar system: Astrophysical jets driven by the sun

The yellow shape in this figure is the heliopause, the boundary between the heliosphere and the local interstellar medium. The sun sits at the center of this large bubble, but is too small to be seen in this image. The gray lines are the solar magnetic field lines and the red lines are the interstellar magnetic field.As the sun skims through the galaxy, it flings out charged particles in a stream of plasma called the solar wind. The solar wind creates a bubble, known as the...

For the first time, spacecraft catch a solar shockwave in the act

On Oct. 8, 2013, an explosion on the sun's surface sent a supersonic blast wave of solar wind out into space. This shockwave tore past Mercury and Venus, blitzing by...

With new data, Planck satellite brings early universe into focus

From its orbit 930,000 miles above Earth, the Planck space telescope spent more than four years detecting the oldest light in the universe, called the cosmic microwave background. This fossil...

Interstellar technology throws light on spinning black holes

A moderately realistic accretion disk, created by Double Negative artists and
gravitationally lensed by a black hole.The team responsible for the Oscar-nominated visual effects at the centre of Christopher Nolan's epic, Interstellar, have turned science fiction into science fact by providing new insights into the powerful...

In a first, astronomers catch a multiple star system in the process of forming

A triple star system forming within a dense gas filament in a numerical simulation modeling a group of forming stars. The color indicates the gas density, where lighter colors are higher densities. Rhe image is about 10,000 astronomical units across where the projected separations between the three objects is about 2,000 and 4,000 AU.This week an international team of astronomers reports the first multiple-star system to be observed during the earliest stage of formation. This finding supports model predictions about how two- and...

Astronomers breathe new life into venerable instrument

The University of Toledo observing team poses with the HPOL instrument (far right) mounted on the Ritter Observatory 1-m telescope. Graduate and undergraduate students in the Department of Physics & Astronomy conduct observations with HPOL every clear night.How do astronomers determine the shapes of objects that are too far away to photograph? One method is by using spectropolarimetry, an observational technique that measures the way light waves...

'Live fast, die young' galaxies lose the gas that keeps them alive

This is an image showing galaxy J0836, the approximate location of the black hole residing at the galaxy's core, and the expelled gas reservoir.Galaxies can die early because the gas they need to make new stars is suddenly ejected, research published today suggests.

CAT scan of nearby supernova remnant reveals frothy interior

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.Cassiopeia A, or Cas A for short, is one of the most well studied supernova remnants in our galaxy. But it still holds major surprises. Harvard-Smithsonian and Dartmouth College astronomers...

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...

Monster black hole discovered at cosmic dawn

This is an artist's impression of a quasar with a supermassive black hole in the distant universe.Scientists have discovered the brightest quasar in the early universe, powered by the most massive black hole yet known at that time. The international team led by astronomers from Peking...

Does dark matter cause mass extinctions and geologic upheavals?

Research by New York University Biology Professor Michael Rampino concludes that Earth's infrequent but predictable path around and through our Galaxy's disc may have a direct and significant effect on...

Dark matter guides growth of supermassive black holes

Every massive galaxy has a black hole at its center, and the heftier the galaxy, the bigger its black hole. But why are the two related? After all, the black...

A close call of 0.8 light years

This is an artist's conception of Scholz's star and its brown dwarf companion (foreground) during its flyby of the solar system 70,000 years ago. The Sun (left, background) would have appeared as a brilliant star. The pair is now about 20 light years away.A group of astronomers from the US, Europe, Chile and South Africa have determined that 70,000 years ago a recently discovered dim star is likely to have passed through the...

Why do starburst galaxies 'burst'?

What is the recipe for starburst? Astronomers studied NGC 253 with ALMA to find out. These new ALMA data reveal a diffuse envelope of carbon monoxide gas (shown in red), which surrounds stellar nurseries -- regions of active star formation (in yellow). By dissecting these regions with ALMA, astronomers are uncovering clues to the processes and conditions that drive furious star formation. The ALMA data are superimposed on a Hubble image that covers part of the same region.Starburst galaxies transmute gas into new stars at a dizzying pace -- up to 1,000 times faster than typical spiral galaxies like the Milky Way. To help understand why some...

Mismatched twin stars spotted in the delivery room

The majority of stars in our galaxy come in pairs. In particular, the most massive stars usually have a companion. These fraternal twins tend to be somewhat equal partners when...

The Sun's activity in the 18th century was similar to that now

Sunspots, as seen in the center of this image, relay information on the sun's activity.Counting sunspots over time helps in knowing the activity of our star but the two indices used by scientists disagree on dates prior to 1885. Now an international team of...

Mining the moon becomes a serious prospect

With an estimated 1.6 billion tonnes of water ice at its poles and an abundance of rare-earth elements hidden below its surface, the Moon is rich ground for mining.

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...

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 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...

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