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.
A mystery that began nearly 2,000 years ago, when Chinese astronomers witnessed what would turn out to be an exploding star in the sky, has been solved. New infrared observations from two NASA space telescopes reveal how the first supernova ever recorded occurred.
For the first time, astronomers have detected around a burgeoning solar system a sprawling cloud of water vapor that’s cold enough to form comets, which could eventually deliver oceans to dry planets.
A new image of the disk of gas and dust around a sun-like star has spiral-arm-like structures. These features may provide clues to the presence of embedded but as-yet-unseen planets.
Astronomers have captured the first direct image of a planet being born. Called LkCa 15 b, it's the youngest planet ever observed, and is forming from a cloud of dust and gas circling a 2-million-year-old star about 450 light-years from Earth.
Like all galaxies, our Milky Way is home to a strange substance called dark matter. Dark matter is invisible, betraying its presence only through its gravitational pull. Without dark matter holding them together, our galaxy's speedy stars would fly off in all directions. The nature of dark matter is a mystery—a mystery that a new study has only deepened.
Researchers at the California Institute of Technology have directly determined the surface temperature of early Mars for the first time, providing evidence that's consistent with a warmer and wetter Martian past.
A University of Toronto-led team of astronomers has discovered over two dozen new free-floating brown dwarfs, including a lightweight youngster only about six times heftier than Jupiter, that reside in two young star clusters. What's more, one cluster contains a surprising surplus of them, harbouring half as many of these astronomical oddballs as normal stars.
Astrophysicists have found evidence of black holes destroying stars, a long-sought phenomenon that provides a new window into general relativity. The research also opens up a method to search for the possible existence of a large population of presently undetectable "intermediate mass" black holes which are hypothesized to be precursors to the super-massive black holes at the centers of most large galaxies.
The world's largest optical telescope has allowed University of Florida astronomers to see new details about deep space galaxies, finding new clues to explain the evolution of galaxies like our own.
An international collaboration of astrophysicists has detected pulsed gamma rays from the neutron star at the heart of the Crab Nebula with energies far higher than the common theoretical models can explain.
In a painstaking re-analysis of Hubble Space Telescope images from 1998, astronomers have found visual evidence for two extrasolar planets that went undetected back then. The most compelling aspect of the discovery is that astronomers can now chart longer-term planetary motion by comparing these images with new data.
New evidence supports the theory that comets delivered a significant portion of Earth's oceans, which scientists believe formed about 8 million years after the planet itself.
Passing within 100 km of the Saturn moon’s surface, the NASA spacecraft Cassini was close enough to Enceladus’ now famous icy jets to allow its mass spectrometry equipment to “taste” the particles.
The powerful influence of the Sun and the nature of mysterious dark energy motivate ESA’s next two science missions. Solar Orbiter will venture closer to the Sun than any previous mission, and Euclid will be a space telescope designed to map out the large-scale structure of the cosmos.
Scientists have known for more than 100 years that the universe is expanding, but in 1990s three physicists determined that this expansion is accelerating. The surprising finding, which suggests the cosmos will eventually freeze to ice, has earned the 2011 Nobel Prize in physics.
California space-launch entrepreneur Elon Musk said Thursday his company will try to develop an orbital booster system with components capable of flying back to Earth for reuse. The complexities of the engineering have canceled previous efforts by others.
For decades scientists had puzzled over whether Mercury had volcanic deposits on its surface. The latest set of images from MESSENGER, the NASA orbiter, affirmed their existence and also discovered a new class of landform known as a ‘hollow’.
Thanks to an updated census from NASA’s sky-mapping spacecraft, the space agency’s Near-Earth Object Office at NASA has identified more than 90% of giant, potentially Earth-threatening asteroids, including ones as big as the one thought to have killed the dinosaurs eons ago.
The Bolshoi supercomputer simulation, the most accurate and detailed large cosmological simulation run to date, gives physicists and astronomers a powerful new tool for understanding such cosmic mysteries as galaxy formation, dark matter, and dark energy.
The climate on the surface of Venus is consistently nasty, with searing temperatures and crushing atmospheric pressures, with no water and no relief from any change in seasons. In the upper atmosphere, however, scientists have spotted surprising signs of dynamic, changing patterns.
Recent research involving Princeton University astrophysics postdoc David Spiegel identifies the "darkest" planet yet observed and sets a new standard in determining just how much light "hot Jupiter" planets—scorching balls of hydrogen and helium already known for being non-reflective—can keep to themselves.