The “supernova of a generation” that had researchers and hobbyists alike looking skyward in September was a binary star. But researchers have recently learned that the explosion itself was not caused by a massive red giant. Rather, it was a star that resembles what our own sun will become one day.
In the first university-based planetary science experiment at the National Ignition Facility (NIF), researchers have gradually compressed a diamond sample to a record pressure of 50 Mbar (50 million times Earth's atmospheric pressure).
Proof that water flowed through underground fractures on Mars at some point in its history has been discovered by NASA’s Opportunity rover. Bright veins of a mineral, most likely gypsum, were observed by the rover and geologists judge by the formation that it was deposited by water.
Found in two separate nearby galaxies roughly 300 million light years away from Earth, two black holes have been found that each have a mass equivalent to 10 billion suns. They are easily the most massive black holes found to date.
The Kepler planet-hunting telescope may have found a second Earth. Scientists say the temperature on the surface of the planet is about a comfortable 22.2 C (72 F). Its star could almost be a twin of our sun, and it likely has water and land.
Astronomers at Yale University have discovered what appear to be three fast-growing supermassive black holes in a relatively young, still-forming galaxy. The discovery raises the possibility that this type of black hole continues to form billions of years after the Big Bang, challenging current theory.
New images from ESA’s Mars Express show the Phlegra Montes mountain range in greater detail. The range is in a region where radar probing has indicated large volumes of water ice should be hiding below. This could be a source of water for future astronauts.
A strangely powerful, long-lasting gamma-ray burst on Christmas Day, 2010 has finally been analyzed to the satisfaction of a multinational research team. Called the Christmas Burst, GRB 101225A was freakishly lengthy and it produced radiation at unusually varying wavelengths.
In the distant reaches of the universe, almost 13 billion light-years from Earth, a strange species of galaxy lay hidden. Cloaked in dust and dimmed by the intervening distance, even the Hubble Space Telescope couldn't spy it. It took the revealing power of NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope to uncover not one, but four remarkably red galaxies. And while astronomers can describe the members of this new "species," they can't explain what makes them so ruddy.
An otherwise nondescript binary star system in the Whirlpool Galaxy has brought astronomers tantalizingly close to their goal of observing a star just before it goes supernova. The study provides the latest result from an Ohio State University galaxy survey underway with the Large Binocular Telescope, located in Arizona.
An international team of astronomers has mapped in detail the star-birthing regions of the nearest star-forming galaxy to our own, a step toward understanding the conditions surrounding star creation.
Brown University physicists have set the strongest limit for the mass of dark matter, the mysterious particles believed to make up nearly a quarter of the universe. The researchers report that dark matter must have a mass greater than 40 GeV. The distinction is important because it casts doubt on recent results from underground experiments that have reported detecting dark matter.
As big as a car and as well-equipped as a laboratory, NASA's newest Mars rover blows away its predecessors in size and skill. Powered by plutonium, Curiosity will be lowered to the Martian surface by a jet pack and tether system similar to those used by sky cranes.
In the first university-based planetary science experiment at the National Ignition Facility, researchers have gradually compressed a diamond sample to a record pressure of 50 megabars, or 50 million times Earth’s atmospheric pressure. The effort replicates conditions found in the cores of recently discovered super-Earth exoplanets.
Dwarf galaxies are the most common type in the universe, but the 9 billion-year-old examples found by NASA’s Hubble telescope are unusually prolific and numerous. The rapid star-birth seen in these newly found examples may force astronomers to reassess their understanding of the ways in which galaxies form.
For the first time, astronomers have found pristine clouds of the primordial gas that formed in the first few minutes after the Big Bang. The composition of the gas matches theoretical predictions, providing direct evidence in support of the modern cosmological explanation for the origins of elements in the universe.
A Martian probe designed to examine one of Mars’ tiny moons, Phobos, was imperiled just hours after a successful launch on Wednesday. Probable failure of the craft’s orientation system has left it stuck in Earth’s orbit and engineers have just days to reboot the system’s software before battery power fails and the 13.2-ton spacecraft full of toxic fuel falls to Earth.
A U.S. Department of Energy review panel last week approved a project to create the world’s largest digital camera. Designed for a new Chilean telescope’s 8.4-m primary mirror, the camera has 189 semiconductor sensors that can record infrared to ultraviolet light, and has the capacity to produce 15 terabytes of data every night.
In work that could help advance astronomers' understanding of dark matter, University of Michigan researchers have discovered two additional dwarf galaxies that appear to be satellites of Andromeda, the closest spiral galaxy to Earth.
Astronomers are 100% positive asteroid 2005 YU55 is no threat to Earth, but its proximity, passing closer to us than the moon on Nov. 8, is giving researchers a chance to study it by radar. This is the type of carbon-rich asteroid that NASA is aiming to someday visit with astronauts.
After years of quiet, the sun is coming alive with solar storms. It now has dozens of sunspots, including one that is the size of 17 Earths. They are casting flares that could, in the next week as the sun rotates, affect electrical and communications grids.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute scientists have compiled years of research to help locate areas in outer space that have extreme potential for complex organic molecule formation. The scientists searched for methanol, a key ingredient in the synthesis of organic molecules that could lead to life.
An asteroid the size of an aircraft carrier will fly near Earth on Nov. 8, 2011. While there is no danger of it hitting the planet, a Purdue University asteroid impact expert says a similar-sized object hitting Earth would result in a 4,000-megaton blast, magnitude 7.0 earthquake and, should it strike in the deep ocean, 70-foot-high tsunami waves 60 miles from the splashdown site.
An international team of researchers from France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States has analyzed Lutetia's surface images, and found that underneath its cold and cracked exterior, the asteroid may in fact have once harbored a molten-hot, metallic core. The findings suggest that Lutetia, despite billions of years of impacts, may have retained its original structure—a preserved remnant of the very earliest days of the solar system.
Three planets—each orbiting its own giant, dying star—have been discovered by an international research team led by a Penn State University astronomer. One of the massive stars, however, is being orbited by an additional mystery object.