Popular Science articles about Astronomy & Space

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.

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....

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.

University of Tennessee research offers explanation for Titan dune puzzle

This is sediment inside the Titan wind tunnel for testing.Titan, Saturn's largest moon, is a peculiar place. Unlike any other moon, it has a dense atmosphere. It has rivers and lakes made up of components of natural gas, such...

Finding infant earths and potential life just got easier

Among the billions and billions of stars in the sky, where should astronomers look for infant Earths where life might develop? New research from Cornell University's Institute for Pale Blue...

Space travel is a bit safer than expected

This is the interior structure of the phantom used in the experiment MATROSHKA. White tubes contain sets of thermoluminescent detectors. Half of these detectors was manufactured by the Institute of Nuclear Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Kraków, Poland.Analysis of data from the MATROSHKA experiment, the first comprehensive measurements of long-term exposure of astronauts to cosmic radiation, has now been completed. This experiment, carried out on board and...

Strange galaxy perplexes astronomers

With the help of citizen scientists, a team of astronomers has found an important new example of a very rare type of galaxy that may yield valuable insight on how...

NASA's Swift mission probes an exotic object: 'Kicked' black hole or mega star?

Using the Keck II telescope in Hawaii, researchers obtained high-resolution images of Markarian 177 and SDSS1133 using a near-infrared filter. Twin bright spots in the galaxy's center are consistent with recent star formation, a disturbance that hints this galaxy may have merged with another.An international team of researchers analyzing decades of observations from many facilities, including NASA's Swift satellite, has discovered an unusual source of light in a galaxy some 90 million light-years...

Magnetic fields frozen into meteorite grains tell a shocking tale of solar system birth

Magnetic field lines (green) weave through the cloud of dusty gas surrounding the newborn Sun. In the foreground are asteroids and chondrules, the building blocks of chondritic meteorites. While solar magnetic fields dominate the region near the Sun, out where the asteroids orbit, chondrules preserve a record of varying local magnetic fields.The most accurate laboratory measurements yet made of magnetic fields trapped in grains within a primitive meteorite are providing important clues to how the early solar system evolved. The measurements...

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'.

'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...

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...

Evidence of life on Mars?

This is a two-dimensional XRD pattern for the Rocknest aeolian bedform (dune).In 2012 the Mars Science Laboratory landed in the fascinating Gale crater. The Gale crater is of such great interest because of the 5.5 km high mountain of layered materials...

Pulsars with black holes could hold the 'holy grail' of gravity

Discovering a pulsar orbiting a black hole could be the 'holy grail' for testing gravity.The intermittent light emitted by pulsars, the most precise timekeepers in the universe, allows scientists to verify Einstein's theory of relativity, especially when these objects are paired up with another...

'Mirage Earth' exoplanets may have burned away chances for life

Planets orbiting close to low-mass stars -- easily the most common stars in the universe -- are prime targets in the search for extraterrestrial life.

Ground-based detection of super-Earth transit achieved

Astronomers have measured the passing of a super-Earth in front of a bright, nearby Sun-like star using a ground-based telescope for the first time. The transit of the exoplanet 55...

Hiding in plain sight: Elusive dark matter may be detected with GPS satellites

Quantum physicist Andrei Derevianko of the University of Nevada, Reno has contributed to the development of several novel classes of atomic clocks and now is proposing using networks of synchronized atomic clocks to detect dark matter. His paper on the topic is published in the journal <i>Nature Physics</i>.The everyday use of a GPS device might be to find your way around town or even navigate a hiking trail, but for two physicists, the Global Positioning System might...

Amateur, professional astronomers alike thrilled by extreme storms on Uranus

These are infrared images of Uranus (1.6 and 2.2 microns) obtained on Aug. 6, 2014, with adaptive optics on the 10-meter Keck telescope. The white spot is an extremely large storm that was brighter than any feature ever recorded on the planet in the 2.2 micron band. The cloud rotating into view at the lower-right limb grew into the large storm that was seen by amateur astronomers at visible wavelengths.The normally bland face of Uranus has become increasingly stormy, with enormous cloud systems so bright that for the first time ever, amateur astronomers are able to see details in...

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