By combining the light of three powerful infrared telescopes, an international research team has observed the active accretion phase of a supermassive black hole in the center of a galaxy tens of millions of light years away, a method that has yielded an unprecedented amount of data for such observations.
A team of astronomers has found that the most active galactic nuclei—enormous black holes that are violently devouring gas and dust at the centers of galaxies—may prevent new stars from forming.
Most people take gravity for granted. But for University of Pennsylvania astrophysicist Bhuvnesh Jain, the nature of gravity is the question of a lifetime. As scientists have been able to see farther and deeper into the universe, the laws of gravity have been revealed to be under the influence of an unexplained force. By analyzing a well-studied class of stars in nearby galaxies, a team of astrophysicists have produced new findings that narrow down the possibilities of what this force could be.
Scientists on a planetary-heat-seeking mission have detected the first infrared light from a super-Earth—in this case, a planet some 40 light-years away. And according to their calculations, 55 Cancri e, a planet just over twice the size of Earth, is throwing off some serious heat.
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope recently imaged the Moon’s crater Tycho, though not for the purpose of adding to our knowledge of the lunar surface. Instead, the telescope was being prepped for study the last transit of the sun by Venus to occur this century. Because the Hubble can’t look at the sun directly, the Moon will serve as a giant mirror.
Type Ia supernovae are important stellar phenomena, used to measure the expansion of the universe. But astronomers know embarrassingly little about the stars they come from and how the explosions happen. New research from a team led by Harvard University examined 23 Type Ia supernovae and helped identify the formation process for at least some of them.
A group of scientists took to the skies in a slow-moving airship Thursday in search of meteorites that rained over California's gold country last month. It's the latest hunt for extraterrestrial fragments from the April 22 explosion that was witnessed over a swath of Northern California and Nevada.
Our solar system is four and a half billion years old, but its formation may have occurred over a shorter period of time than we previously thought, says an international team of researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and universities and laboratories in the U.S. and Japan.
Using the world's largest radio telescope, scientists at Arecibo, Puerto Rico, have discovered flaring radio emissions from an ultra-cool star, not much warmer than the planet Jupiter, shattering the previous record for the lowest stellar temperature at which radio waves were detected.
Between 2008 and 2010, scientists at the IceCube Neutrino Observatory in Antarctica searched for neutrinos emitted from 300 gamma ray bursts. In defiance of 15 years of predictions no neutrinos were found. Nevertheless, the recently published report from this effort still sheds light on the formation of high-energy gamma rays.
Starting Friday, NASA’s Mars Program Planning Group began accepting ideas and abstracts online from the worldwide scientific and technical community as part of NASA's effort to seek out the best and the brightest ideas from researchers and engineers in planetary science. They hope to develop a new strategy for the exploration of Mars.
For the first time, scientists have captured images of auroras above the gas giant Uranus from Earth-based telescopes. Carefully scheduled observations from the Hubble Space Telescope glimpse the short-lived faint light show, which are generated by Uranus’ little-understood magnetic field. These auroras could help build a better picture.
A researcher working with images from NASA’s Solar Dynamic Observatory recently saw something he’d never seen before: a pattern of cells in the sun’s corona. Using a combination of conventional and magnetic imaging from several satellites and spacecraft, astronomer were able to build a 3D picture of what was happening on the sun’s surface.
Analysis of data from 10-m South Pole Telescope (SPT) in Antarctica provides new support for the most widely accepted explanation of dark energy. Researchers, however, have so far been able to base their analysis on only a fraction of the SPT data collected and only 100 of the over 500 galaxy clusters detected so far.
Most galaxies, including the Milky Way, have a supermassive black hole at their center weighing millions to billions of suns. But how do those black holes grow so hefty? Some theories suggest they were born large. Others claim they grew larger over time through black hole mergers, or by consuming huge amounts of gas. New research shows that supermassive black holes can grow big by ripping apart double-star systems and swallowing one of the stars.
The international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) will be the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope when it is built, and will require the processing power of several million of today’s fastest computers to collect the exabytes of data it will generate. IBM and the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (ASTRON) are embarking on a five-year project to solve this data collection problem.
First spectroscopic results from BOSS, the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey, give the most detailed look yet at the time when dark energy turned on. Over six billion light years ago, halfway back to the Big Bang, the expanding universe slipped from the grasp of matter's mutual gravitational attraction. Dark energy took over, and expansion began to accelerate.
Black holes grow by sucking in gas, which forms a disc around the hole and spirals in. But this usually happens too slowly to explain the great size of black holes at the center of many galaxies, including ours. A new theory compares these giants to a Wall of Death, in which two motorcycles—or gas discs—crash and both quickly fall into the hole.
Seven years ago, astronomers boggled when they found the first runaway star flying out of our galaxy at a speed of 1.5 million mph. The discovery intrigued theorists, who wondered: If a star can get tossed outward at such an extreme velocity, could the same thing happen to planets? New research shows the answer is yes.
Published by the U.S. Geological Survey, the first fully global geologic map of Jupiter’s moon Io technically illustrates the geologic character of some of the most unique and active volcanoes ever documented in the solar system.
Einstein's theory of gravity and quantum physics are expected to merge at the Planck-scale of extremely high energies and on very short distances. At this scale, new phenomena could arise. However, the Planck-scale is so remote from current experimental capabilities that tests of quantum gravity are widely believed to be nearly impossible. Now, an international collaboration has proposed a new quantum experiment using Planck-mass mirrors.
In a challenge to current astrophysical models, researchers at Sandia National Laboratories and the University of Rostock in Germany have found that current calibrations of planetary interiors overstate water's compressibility by as much as 30%.
In October 2010, a neutron star near the center of our galaxy erupted with hundreds of X-ray bursts that were powered by a barrage of thermonuclear explosions on the star's surface. NASA's Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer captured the month-long fusillade in high detail, identifying behavior not seen in the previous 100 neutron star observations in the past 30 years.
A proposed new time-keeping system tied to the orbiting of a neutron around an atomic nucleus could have such unprecedented accuracy that it neither gains nor loses 1/20th of a second in 14 billion years—the age of the universe.
The Daya Bay Reactor Neutrino Experiment collaboration has announced a precise measurement of the last of the unsolved neutrino mixing angles, which determine how neutrinos oscillate among different types. The results promise new insight into why enough ordinary matter survived after the Big Bang to form everything visible in the universe.