14 Sep 2017, 14:00 UTC Astronomers have discovered that the well-studied exoplanet WASP-12b reflects almost no light, making it appear essentially pitch black. This discovery sheds new light on the atmospheric composition of the planet and also refutes previous hypotheses about WASP-12b’s atmosphere. The results are also in stark contrast to observations of another similarly sized exoplanet. Next Previous
11 Sep 2017, 14:41 UTC The sun emitted a significant solar flare, peaking at 12:06 p.m. EDT on Sept. 10, 2017. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, which watches the sun constantly, captured an image of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth's atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground, however — when intense enough — they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel. Next Previous
6 Sep 2017, 17:00 UTC A new study using data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and ESA's XMM-Newton suggests X-rays emitted by a planet's host star may provide critical clues to just how hospitable a star system could be. A team of researchers looked at 24 stars similar to the Sun, each at least one billion years old, and how their X-ray brightness changed over time. Next Previous
31 Aug 2017, 14:00 UTC Next Previous
30 Aug 2017, 15:00 UTC ALMA has been used to detect turbulent reservoirs of cold gas surrounding distant starburst galaxies. By detecting CH+ for the first time in the distant Universe this research opens up a new window of exploration into a critical epoch of star formation. The presence of this molecule sheds new light on how galaxies manage to extend their period of rapid star formation. The results appear in the journal Nature. Next Previous
23 Aug 2017, 10:00 UTC Using ESO’s Very Large Telescope Interferometer astronomers have constructed the most detailed image ever of a star — the red supergiant star Antares. They have also made the first map of the velocities of material in the atmosphere of a star other than the Sun, revealing unexpected turbulence in Antares’s huge extended atmosphere. The results were published in the journal Nature. To the unaided eye the famous, bright star Antares shines with a strong red tint in the heart of the constellation of Scorpius (The Scorpion). It is a huge and comparatively cool red supergiant star in the late stages of its life, on the way to becoming a supernova . Next Previous
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory News and Features 22 Sep 2017, 19:09 UTC To celebrate the legacy of ESA's Herschel Space Observatory, which had significant NASA contributions, the European Space Agency (ESA) has designated this week as Herschel Week, highlighting some of the mission's accomplishments.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center 22 Sep 2017, 13:41 UTC Galaxy NGC 6753, imaged here by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, is a whirl of color — the bursts of blue throughout the spiral arms are regions filled with young stars glowing brightly in ultraviolet light, while redder areas are filled with older stars emitting in the cooler near-infrared.
ASTRON 22 Sep 2017, 07:14 UTC The Pierre Auger Collaboration, in which ASTRON is a partner, reports observational evidence demonstrating that cosmic rays with energies a million times greater than that of the protons accelerated in the Large Hadron Collider come from much further away than from our own Galaxy. These findings are published in Science on 22 September 2017.
National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) 21 Sep 2017, 19:50 UTC Astronomers using the National Science Foundation’s Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) radio telescope system have discovered the closest pair of supermassive black holes yet found. The black holes are at the core of a galaxy called NGC 7674, about 400 million light-years from Earth. With a combined mass roughly 40 million times that of the Sun, the two black holes apparently are separated by only about one light-year. The previous record-holder, also discovered with the VLBA, is a pair of supermassive black holes some 24 light-years apart. The black holes in NGC 7674 are estimated to orbit each other about once every 100,000 years. The presence of two such monsters at the center of a single galaxy means that the galaxy merged with another some time in the past. The discovery was made by researchers from the National Center for Radio Astrophysics, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, in Pune, India, and the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. They announced their discovery in the journal Nature Astronomy, and in a press release. The Long Baseline Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation, operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics 21 Sep 2017, 14:06 UTC Cambridge, MA - When fast radio bursts, or FRBs, were first detected in 2001, astronomers had never seen anything like them before. Since then, astronomers have found a couple of dozen FRBs, but they still don’t know what causes these rapid and powerful bursts of radio emission.
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Universe Today 22 Sep 2017, 19:06 UTC For decades, scientists have known that in near-Earth space there are thousands of comets and asteroids that periodically cross Earth’s orbit. These Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) are routinely tracked by NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) to make sure that none pose a risk of collision with our planet. Various programs and missions have also been proposed to divert or destroy any asteroids that might pass too closely to Earth in the future. One such mission is the Asteroid Impact & Deflection Assessment (AIDA), a collaborative effort between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA). Recently, the ESA announced that it would be withdrawing from this mission due to budget constraints. But this past Wednesday (Sept. 20th), during the European Planetary Science Conference in Riga, a group of international scientists urged them to reconsider.
io9 Space 22 Sep 2017, 16:32 UTC Right now, NASA’s Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security - Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft is hurtling through the void in order to link up with an asteroid named Bennu in 2018. While the intrepid spacecraft still has a way to go until its big rendezvous, today it’ll casually fly by Earth. Unfortunately, it poses no immediate danger to our planet, but if you’ve got a good telescope with a camera, you might even be able to snap a pic!
Starts With a Bang! 22 Sep 2017, 14:01 UTC Deep inside the Sun’s interior, the fusion of lighter nuclei into heavier ones causes a tiny amount of mass to be lost, converted into energy via the famous E = mc². At temperatures of 4,000,000 K or above, all the way up to 15,000,000 K in the Sun’s very center, hydrogen and helium isotopes build their way up to more stable elements, releasing energy and providing all the power that washes over every planet in the Solar System. Yet despite these incredible energies, the protons in the Sun’s core would never be able to begin this chain reaction if the Universe were completely deterministic. It requires the wave nature of quantum mechanics to make it possible, proving that Einstein’s famous statement, that “God does not play dice with the Universe,” was false.
SPACE.com 22 Sep 2017, 11:40 UTC While residents of the northern half of the Earth prepare for shorter days and colder weather — the first day of fall is today (Sept. 22) — there is a sky spectacle to enjoy. Earth's moon and the planet Jupiter will be close together in the sky tonight and tomorrow, shortly after sunse