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Astronomy News -- ScienceDaily
Astronomy news. New! Earth-like extrasolar planet found; double helix nebula; supermassive black holes, astronomy articles, astronomy pictures. Updated daily.
Hubble solves cosmic 'whodunit' with interstellar forensics
On the outskirts of our galaxy, a cosmic tug-of-war is unfolding-and only NASA's Hubble Space Telescope can see who's winning.
TRAPPIST-1 planets provide clues to the nature of habitable worlds
To determine the composition of the TRAPPIST-1 planets, the team used a unique software package that uses state-of-the-art mineral physics calculators. The software, called ExoPlex, allowed the team to combine all of the available information about the TRAPPIST-1 system, including the chemical makeup of the star, rather than being limited to just the mass and radius of individual planets.
A star disturbed the comets of the solar system 70,000 years ago
About 70,000 years ago, a small reddish star approached our solar system and gravitationally disturbed comets and asteroids. Astronomers have verified that the movement of some of these objects is still marked by that stellar encounter.
Cosmologists create largest simulation of galaxy formation, break their own record
Cosmology researchers are releasing initial findings from IllustrisTNG, their follow-up to the 2015 record-breaking Illustris simulation -- the largest-ever hydrological simulation of galaxy formation.
Interstellar asteroid, 'Oumuamua, likely came from a binary star system
New research finds that 'Oumuamua, the rocky object identified as the first confirmed interstellar asteroid, very likely came from a binary star system.
Scientists detect radio echoes of a black hole feeding on a star
A scientist has detected radio echoes of a black hole feeding on a star, suggesting black hole emits a jet of energy proportional to the stellar material it gobbles up.
Space radiation more hazardous: Implication sfor astronauts and satellites
It might sound like something from a science fiction plot - astronauts traveling into deep space being bombarded by cosmic rays - but radiation exposure is science fact. As future missions look to travel back to the moon or even to Mars, new research cautions that the exposure to radiation is much higher than previously thought and could have serious implications on both astronauts and satellite technology.
Jupiter's atmospheric beauty is more than skin deep
In the year and a half NASA's Juno spacecraft has been orbiting Jupiter, the scientists have discovered that the orange and white bands that characterize Jupiter's outer atmosphere extend thousands of miles into the gas giant's atmosphere.
Optometrist investigates changes in eye structure in astronauts
An optometrist studies the vision of returning International Space Station astronauts and demonstrates a structural change to their eyes.
Double or nothing: Astronomers rethink quasar environment
Astronomers have identified nearly 200 'protoclusters,' the progenitors of galaxy clusters, in the early Universe, about 12 billion years ago, about ten times more than previously known. They also found that quasars don't tend to reside in protoclusters; but if there is one quasar in a protocluster, there is likely a second nearby. This result raises doubts about the relation between protoclusters and quasars.
Arrested development: Hubble finds relic galaxy close to home
Astronomers have put NASA's Hubble Space Telescope on an Indiana Jones-type quest to uncover an ancient 'relic galaxy' in our own cosmic backyard.
15 new planets confirmed around cool dwarf stars
Scientists report the existence of 15 new planets -- including one 'super-Earth' that could harbor liquid water -- orbiting small, cool stars near our solar system. These stars, known as red dwarfs, are of enormous interest for studies of planetary formation and evolution.
Three NASA satellites recreate solar eruption in 3-D
Scientists have developed a model that simulates how shocks following coronal mass ejections, or CMEs, propagate from the sun -- an effort made possible only by combining data from three different NASA satellites.
Making a splash in search for interstellar water
Water is crucial for life, but how do you make water? Cooking up some H2O takes more than mixing hydrogen and oxygen. It requires the special conditions found deep within frigid molecular clouds, where dust shields against destructive ultraviolet light and aids chemical reactions. NASA's James Webb Space Telescope will peer into these cosmic reservoirs to gain new insights into the origin and evolution of water and other key building blocks for habitable planets.
First laboratory simulation of exoplanet atmospheric chemistry
Scientists have conducted the first lab experiments on haze formation in simulated exoplanet atmospheres, an important step for understanding upcoming observations of planets outside the solar system with the James Webb Space Telescope.
NASA Juno finds Jupiter's jet-streams are unearthly
Data collected by NASA's Juno mission to Jupiter indicate that the atmospheric winds of the gas-giant planet run deep into its atmosphere and last longer than similar atmospheric processes found here on Earth.
Hubble finds huge system of dusty material enveloping the young star HR 4796A
Astronomers have used NASA's Hubble Space Telescope to uncover a vast, complex dust structure, about 150 billion miles across, enveloping the young star HR 4796A.
70-year-old mystery of how magnetic waves heat the Sun cracked
Scientists have discovered that magnetic waves crashing through the Sun may be key to heating its atmosphere and propelling the solar wind.
Comet 'Chury's' late birth
Comets which consist of two parts, like Chury, can form after a catastrophic collision of larger bodies. Such collisions may have taken place in a later phase of our solar system, which suggests that Chury can be much younger than previously assumed.
Unprecedentedly wide and sharp dark matter map
A research team released an unprecedentedly wide and sharp dark matter map based on the newly obtained imaging data by Hyper Suprime-Cam on the Subaru Telescope. The dark matter distribution is estimated by the weak gravitational lensing technique. The team found indications that the number of dark matter halos could be inconsistent with what the simplest cosmological model suggests. This could be a new clue to understanding why the expansion of the universe is accelerating.
Hubble observes exoplanet atmosphere in more detail than ever before
An international team of scientists has used the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to study the atmosphere of the hot exoplanet WASP-39b. By combining this new data with older data they created the most complete study yet of an exoplanet atmosphere. The atmospheric composition of WASP-39b hints that the formation processes of exoplanets can be very different from those of our own Solar System giants.
Can strongly lensed type 1a supernovae resolve cosmology's biggest controversy?
Astrophysicists have discovered how to control the 'micolensing' effects of strongly lensed Type 1a Supernovae with supercomputers at NERSC. Armed with this knowledge they believe they will be able to find 1,000 strongly lensed Type Ia supernovae in realtime from LSST data -- that's 20 times more than previous expectations.
Search for first stars uncovers 'dark matter'
New research offers the first direct proof that dark matter exists and that it is composed of low-mass particles.
Black holes from small galaxies might emit gamma rays
Researchers have discovered seven galaxies that could shake up what astrophysicists thought they knew about how the size of a galaxy -- and the black hole at its center -- can affect its behavior.
Six decades of cosmology
An expert shares his personal reminiscences of the evolution of the subject of cosmology over six decades. He tells of the increase in our confidence in the standard model of cosmology to the extent that it has become a dogma.
The moon formed inside a vaporized Earth synestia
A new explanation for the Moon's origin has it forming inside the Earth when our planet was a seething, spinning cloud of vaporized rock, called a synestia. The new model resolves several problems in lunar formation.
The ideal settlement site on Mars? Hotspots, if you asked a crop
Selecting the perfect landing site will be essential for the successful establishment of the first Mars colony. Growing food crops will be one of the key tasks for the astronauts. Scientists have identified places on Mars that are favorable for plant species to grow.
Stars around the Milky Way: Cosmic space invaders or victims of galactic eviction?
An international team of astronomers has made a surprising discovery about the birthplace of groups of stars located in the halo of our Milky Way galaxy. The astronomers now have compelling evidence showing that some of these halo structures actually originate from the Milky Way's disk itself, but were kicked out; this phenomenon is called galactic eviction.
Beaming with the light of millions of suns
An astronomy team is homing in on the nature of extreme objects known as ultraluminous X-ray sources, or ULXs.
Proxima Centauri's no good, very bad day
Astronomers have detected a massive stellar flare -- an energetic explosion of radiation -- from the closest star to our own Sun, Proxima Centauri, which occurred last March. This finding raises questions about the habitability of our Solar System's nearest exoplanetary neighbor, Proxima b, which orbits Proxima Centauri.
NASA's SDO Reveals How Magnetic Cage on the Sun Stopped Solar Eruption
A dramatic magnetic power struggle at the Sun's surface lies at the heart of solar eruptions, new research shows.
Model based on hydrothermal sources evaluate possibility of life on Jupiter's icy moon
Scientists compare primitive Earth scenario with satellite Europa's conditions; the Jupiterian moon could host microorganisms at the bottom of a huge warm ocean located underneath its frozen crust.
On second thought, the Moon's water may be widespread and immobile
A new analysis of data from two lunar missions finds evidence that the Moon's water is widely distributed across the surface and is not confined to a particular region or type of terrain.
Improved Hubble yardstick gives fresh evidence for new physics in the universe
Astronomers have used NASA's Hubble Space Telescope to make the most precise measurements of the expansion rate of the universe since it was first calculated nearly a century ago. Intriguingly, the results are forcing astronomers to consider that they may be seeing evidence of something unexpected at work in the universe.
Astronomers discover S0-2 star is single and ready for big Einstein test
A team of astronomers has found that S0-2 does not have a significant other after all, or at least one that is massive enough to get in the way of critical measurements that astronomers need to test Einstein's Theory of General Relativity. Up until now, it was thought that S0-2 may be a binary, a system where two stars circle around each other.
Amateur astronomer captures rare first light from massive exploding star
First light from a supernova is hard to capture; no one can predict where and when a star will explode. An amateur astronomer has now captured on film this first light, emitted when the exploding core hits the star's outer layers: shock breakout. Subsequent observations by astronomers using the Lick and Keck observatories helped identify it as a Type IIb supernova that slimmed down from 20 to 5 solar masses before exploding.
Magnetic field traces gas and dust swirling around supermassive black hole
Astronomers reveal a new high resolution map of the magnetic field lines in gas and dust swirling around the supermassive black hole at the center of our Galaxy. The team created the map, which is the first of its kind, using the CanariCam infrared camera attached to the Gran Telescopio Canarias sited on the island of La Palma.
Some black holes erase your past
Physicists insist on determinism: your past and present determine your future uniquely, per Einstein's equations of general relativity. They call this strong cosmic censorship. A mathematician found some types of black holes -- charged, non-rotating objects in an expanding universe -- that allow an observer inside the black hole to travel across a horizon into a place where the past is obliterated and there are an infinite number of possible futures for every initial state.
NASA's James Webb Space Telescope to reveal secrets of the Red Planet
Mars rovers and orbiters have found signs that Mars once hosted liquid water on its surface. Much of that water escaped over time. How much water was lost, and how does the water that’s left move from ice to atmosphere to soil? During its first year of operations, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will seek answers. Webb also will study mysterious methane plumes that hint at possible geological or even biological activity.
No relation between a supermassive black hole and its host galaxy?
Using ALMA to observe an active galaxy with a strong ionized gas outflow from the galactic center, a team has obtained a result making astronomers even more puzzled -- the team clearly detected CO gas associated with the galactic disk, yet they have also found that the CO gas which settles in the galaxy is not affected by the strong ionized gas outflow launched from the galactic center.
Astronomers reveal secrets of most distant supernova ever detected
Astronomers have confirmed the discovery of the most distant supernova ever detected -- a huge cosmic explosion that took place 10.5 billion years ago, or three-quarters the age of the Universe itself.
'Ultramassive' black holes discovered in far-off galaxies
Thanks to data collected by NASA’s Chandra X-ray telescope on galaxies up to 3.5 billion light years away from Earth, an international team of astrophysicists was able to detect what is likely to be the most massive black holes ever discovered in the universe. The team’s calculations showed that these “ultramassive” black holes are growing faster than the stars in their respective galaxies.
The starry sky shows nocturnal animals the way
Nocturnal animals can use the stars and the Milky Way to find their way during the darkest hours.
Why we have yet to find extraterrestrial life
Are we alone in the universe? Few questions have captured the public imagination more than this. Yet to date we know of just one sample of life, that which exists here on Earth.
Hubble sees Neptune's mysterious shrinking storm
Three billion miles away on the farthest known major planet in our solar system, an ominous, dark storm -- once big enough to stretch across the Atlantic Ocean from Boston to Portugal -- is shrinking out of existence as seen in pictures of Neptune taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.
Scientists discover almost 100 new exoplanets
Based on data from NASA's K2 mission an international team of scientists have just confirmed nearly 100 new exoplanets, planets located outside our solar system. This brings the total number of new exoplanets found with the K2 mission up to almost 300.
Supermassive black hole model predicts characteristic light signals at cusp of collision
A new simulation of supermassive black holes -- the behemoths at the centers of galaxies -- uses a realistic scenario to predict the light signals emitted in the surrounding gas before the masses collide, said researchers.
A lonely beauty
Beauty, grace, mystery -- this magnificent spiral galaxy has all the qualities of a perfect galactic Valentine. The galaxy NGC 3344 presents itself face-on, allowing astronomers a detailed look at its intricate and elegant structure. And Hubble's ability to observe objects over a wide range of different wavelengths reveals features that would otherwise remain invisible.
Rotating dusty gaseous donut around an active supermassive black hole
High resolution observations show a rotating dusty gas torus around an active supermassive black hole. The existence of such rotating donuts-shape structures was first suggested decades ago, but this is the first time one has been confirmed so clearly. This is an important step in understanding the co-evolution of supermassive black holes and their host galaxies.
New models give insight into the heart of the Rosette Nebula
New research offers an explanation for the discrepancy between the size and age of the Rosetta Nebula's central cavity and that of its central stars.
Rocky or gassy? Massive, dense super-Earth planet detected
A star about 100 light years away in the Pisces constellation, GJ 9827, hosts what may be one of the most massive and dense super-Earth planets detected to date, according to new research. This new information provides evidence to help astronomers better understand the process by which such planets form.
Cosmic x-rays may provide clues to the nature of dark matter
Researchers have presented a novel theory of dark matter, which implies that dark matter particles may be very different from what is normally assumed. In particular, their theory involves dark matter particles which are extremely light -- almost one hundred times lighter than electrons, in stark contrast to many conventional models that involve very heavy dark matter particles instead.
Researchers build alien ocean to test NASA outer space submarine
Building a submarine gets tricky when the temperature drops to -300 Fahrenheit and the ocean is made of methane and ethane. Researchers are working to determine how a submarine might work on Titan, the largest of Saturn's many moons and the second largest in the solar system. The space agency plans to launch a real submarine into Titan seas in the next 20 years.
Did surface life evolve on Mars? Newly published research casts increased doubt
Surface life on Earth is abundant because of the availability of sunlight, surface water, generally moderate climate conditions. But the planet Mars would have never experienced such habitable conditions at the surface, according to new research. However, below the surface, hydrothermal systems on Mars may have provided the right environment for life on the Red Planet, researchers argue.
HINODE captures record-breaking solar magnetic field
Astronomers in Japan have observed the strongest magnetic field ever directly measured on the surface of the Sun. They determined that it was generated as a result of gas outflow from one sunspot pushing against another sunspot.
TRAPPIST-1 planets probably rich in water
A new study has found that planets orbiting the star TRAPPIST-1 are made mostly of rock, and some could hold more water than Earth. The planets' densities suggest that some of them could have up to 5 percent of their mass in the form of water. The hotter planets closest to their parent star are likely to have dense steamy atmospheres and the more distant ones probably have icy surfaces.
Atmospheres of exoplanets in TRAPPIST-1 habitable zone probed
Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have conducted the first spectroscopic survey of the Earth-sized planets within the habitable zone around the nearby star TRAPPIST-1. Hubble reveals that at least three of the exoplanets (d, e, and f) do not seem to contain puffy, hydrogen-rich atmospheres similar to gaseous planets such as Neptune. The results, instead, favor more compact atmospheres like those of Earth, Venus, and Mars.
Natural telescope: New magnification record for magnification by gravitational lensing
An international team of astronomers has discovered one of the most extreme instances of magnification by gravitational lensing. Using the Hubble Space Telescope to survey a sample of huge clusters of galaxies, the team found a distant galaxy, eMACSJ1341-QG-1, that is magnified 30 times thanks to the distortion of space-time created by the massive galaxy cluster dubbed eMACSJ1341.9-2441.
Astrophysicists discover planets in extragalactic galaxies using microlensing
Astrophysicists have discovered for the first time a population of planets beyond the Milky Way galaxy. Using microlensing -- an astronomical phenomenon and the only known method capable of discovering planets at truly great distances from the Earth among other detection techniques -- researchers were able to detect objects in extragalactic galaxies that range from the mass of the Moon to the mass of Jupiter.
Distant galaxy group contradicts common cosmological models, simulations
Astronomers have determined that Centaurus A, a massive elliptical galaxy 13 million light-years from Earth, is accompanied by a number of dwarf satellite galaxies orbiting the main body in a narrow disk. The researchers note that this is the first time such a galactic arrangement has been observed outside the Local Group, home to the Milky Way.