Astronomy News -- ScienceDaily
Astronomy news. New! Earth-like extrasolar planet found; double helix nebula; supermassive black holes, astronomy articles, astronomy pictures. Updated daily.
First evidence of winds outside black holes throughout their mealtimes
New research shows the first evidence of strong winds around black holes throughout bright outburst events when a black hole rapidly consumes mass. The study sheds new light on how mass transfers to black holes and how black holes can affect the environment around them.
A 'hot Jupiter' with unusual winds
The hottest point on a gaseous planet near a distant star isn't where astrophysicists expected it to be -- a discovery that challenges scientists' understanding of the many planets of this type found in solar systems outside our own.
New for three types of extreme-energy space particles: Theory shows unified origin
One of the biggest mysteries in astroparticle physics has been the origins of ultrahigh-energy cosmic rays, very high-energy neutrinos, and high-energy gamma rays. Now, a new theoretical model reveals that they all could be shot out into space after cosmic rays are accelerated by powerful jets from supermassive black holes. The model may set a new milestone on the path toward solving the half-century-old enigma of the origin of the highest-energy particles in the universe.
Challenging existing models of black holes
A new study expands the scientific community's understanding of black holes in our galaxy and the magnetic fields that surround them.
North, east, south, west: The many faces of Abell 1758
Resembling a swarm of flickering fireflies, this beautiful galaxy cluster glows intensely in the dark cosmos, accompanied by the myriad bright lights of foreground stars and swirling spiral galaxies. A1758N is a sub-cluster of Abell 1758, a massive cluster containing hundreds of galaxies. Although it may appear serene in this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image, the sub-cluster actually comprises two even smaller structures currently in the turbulent process of merging.
Meteoritic stardust unlocks timing of supernova dust formation
Dust is everywhere -- not just in your attic or under your bed, but also in outer space. To astronomers, dust can be a tool to study the history of our universe, galaxy, and Solar System. For example, observations indicate that type II supernovae -- explosions of stars more than ten times as massive as the Sun -- produce copious amounts of dust, but how and when they do so is not well understood.
Neutron-star merger yields new puzzle for astrophysicists
The afterglow from the distant neutron-star merger detected last August has continued to brighten - much to the surprise of astrophysicists studying the aftermath of the massive collision that took place about 138 million light years away and sent gravitational waves rippling through the universe. New observations indicate that the gamma ray burst unleashed by the collision is more complex than scientists initially imagined.
Viruses are everywhere, maybe even in space
Viruses are the most abundant and one of the least understood biological entities on Earth. They might also exist in space, but as of yet scientists have done almost no research into this possibility.
Middle-aged sun observed by tracking motion of Mercury
Like the waistband of a couch potato in midlife, the orbits of planets in our solar system are expanding. It happens because the Sun's gravitational grip gradually weakens as our star ages and loses mass. Now, scientists have indirectly measured this mass loss and other solar parameters by looking at changes in Mercury's orbit.
Odd behavior of star reveals lonely black hole hiding in giant star cluster
Astronomers using ESO's MUSE instrument on the Very Large Telescope in Chile have discovered a star in the cluster NGC 3201 that is behaving very strangely. It appears to be orbiting an invisible black hole with about four times the mass of the sun -- the first such inactive stellar-mass black hole found in a globular cluster and the first found by directly detecting its gravitational pull.
Hubble weighs in on mass of 3 million billion suns
In 2014, astronomers found an enormous galaxy cluster contains the mass of a staggering three million billion suns -- so it's little wonder that it has earned the nickname of "El Gordo" ("the Fat One" in Spanish)! Known officially as ACT-CLJ0102-4915, it is the largest, hottest, and brightest X-ray galaxy cluster ever discovered in the distant Universe.
How massive can neutron stars be?
Astrophysicists set a new limit for the maximum mass of neutron stars: It cannot exceed 2.16 solar masses.
Black hole spin cranks-up radio volume
Statistical analysis of supermassive black holes suggests that the spin of the black hole may play a role in the generation of powerful high-speed jets blasting radio waves. By analyzing nearly 8000 quasars from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, research team found that the oxygen emissions are 1.5 times stronger in radio loud quasars than in radio quiet quasars. This implies that spin is an important factor in the generation of jets.
X-ray navigation could open up new frontiers for robotic spacecraft
In a technology first, a team of engineers has demonstrated fully autonomous X-ray navigation in space -- a capability that could revolutionize NASA's ability in the future to pilot robotic spacecraft to the far reaches of the solar system and beyond.
Supermassive black hole caught burping -- twice
Astronomers have caught a supermassive black hole in a distant galaxy snacking on gas and then "burping" -- not once, but twice.
Magnified and stretched out image of extremely distant galaxy
An intensive survey deep into the universe by NASA's Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes has yielded the proverbial needle-in-a-haystack: the farthest galaxy yet seen in an image that has been stretched and amplified by a phenomenon called gravitational lensing.
Archeology of our Milky Way's ancient hub
A new analysis of about 10,000 normal Sun-like stars in the Milky Way's bulge reveals that our galaxy’s hub is a dynamic environment of variously aged stars zipping around at different speeds.
No planets needed for rings around stars: Disk patterns can self-generate
A new study shows rings, arcs and spirals in disks around stars may not be caused by planets. They may self-generate.
Brown dwarfs found sprinkled among newborn stars in Orion Nebula
Astronomers have uncovered the largest known population of brown dwarfs sprinkled among newborn stars in the Orion Nebula.
Citizen scientists discover five-planet system
In its search for exoplanets -- planets outside of our solar system -- NASA's Kepler telescope trails behind Earth, measuring the brightness of stars that may potentially host planets. The instrument identifies potential planets around other stars by looking for dips in the brightness of the stars that occur when planets cross in front of, or transit, them. Typically, computer programs flag the stars with these brightness dips, then astronomers look at each one and decide whether or not they truly could host a planet candidate.
Faint galactic glow: Intriguing organic molecule benzonitrile in interstellar space
Astronomers have made the first definitive interstellar detection of benzonitrile, an intriguing organic molecule that helps to chemically link simple carbon-based molecules and truly massive ones known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. This discovery is a vital clue in a 30-year-old mystery: identifying the source of a faint infrared glow that permeates the Milky Way and other galaxies.
Astronomers to build space telescope to explore nearby stars
A new mission will launch a small satellite telescope into space to study the environment in other solar systems around the Galaxy's most common type of star.
A repeating fast radio burst from an extreme environment
New detections of radio waves from a repeating fast radio burst have revealed an astonishingly potent magnetic field in the source's environment, indicating that it is situated near a massive black hole or within a nebula of unprecedented power.
Swarm of hydrogen clouds flying away from center of the Milky Way
Astronomers have discovered what appears to be a grand exodus of more than 100 hydrogen clouds streaming away from the center of the Milky Way and heading into intergalactic space.
NASA's newly renamed Swift Mission spies a comet slowdown
NASA's Swift spacecraft, now renamed the Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory after the mission's late principal investigator, has detected the most dramatic change in a comet's rotation ever seen.
New stellar streams confirm 'melting pot' history of the galaxy
Where do the stars in our Galaxy come from? All the stars we see in the night-time sky belong to our Milky Way galaxy, and while most stars were likely born here, in the Milky Way, many appear to have originated in other galaxies and migrated to our shores. Tell-tale evidence comes from streams of stars created when small galaxies interact with the Milky Way.
Astronomers detect 'whirlpool' movement in earliest galaxies; swirling gases soon after Big Bang
Astronomers have looked back to a time soon after the Big Bang, and have discovered swirling gas in some of the earliest galaxies to have formed in the universe. These 'newborns' -- observed as they appeared nearly 13 billion years ago -- spun like a whirlpool, similar to our own Milky Way. This is the first time that it has been possible to detect movement in galaxies at such an early point in the universe's history.
Black hole breakthrough: New insight into mysterious jets
Advanced simulations created with one of the world's most powerful supercomputers show the jets' streams gradually change direction in the sky, or precess, as a result of space-time being dragged into the rotation of the black hole.
Planets around other stars are like peas in a pod
A study of 909 planets and 355 stars reveals that, unlike our solar system, other planetary systems are distinguished by strict regularity.
Black hole research could aid understanding of how small galaxies evolve
Scientists have solved a cosmic mystery by finding evidence that supermassive black holes prevent stars forming in some smaller galaxies.
Extra-terrestrial Hypatia stone rattles solar system status quo
Analyses on a small pebble found in south-west Egypt cast significant questions on a widely-held view about the primitive pre-solar dust cloud which our Sun, Earth and other planets were formed from. Researchers found exotic micro-mineral compounds in the 'Hypatia' stone that are not known to occur on Earth, elsewhere in our solar system, or in known meteorites or comets.
Saturn's moon Titan sports Earth-like features
Using the now-complete Cassini data set, astronomers have created a new global topographic map of Saturn's moon Titan that has opened new windows into understanding its liquid flows and terrain.
Special star is a Rosetta Stone for understanding the sun's variability and climate effect
Scientists have found a star that can help shed light on the physics underlying the solar dynamo. Researchers combined observations from the Kepler spacecraft with ground-based observations as far back as 1978, thereby reconstructing a 7.4-year cycle in this star. The star is almost identical to the Sun, except for the chemical composition. That makes it a Rosetta Stone for the study of stellar dynamos.
Weighing massive stars in nearby galaxy reveals excess of heavyweights
Astronomers have revealed an 'astonishing' overabundance of massive stars in a neighboring galaxy. The discovery, made in the gigantic star-forming region 30 Doradus in the Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy, has 'far-reaching' consequences for our understanding of how stars transformed the pristine Universe into the one we live in today.
NASA's Webb Telescope to investigate mysterious brown dwarfs
Twinkle, twinkle, little star, how I wonder what you are. Astronomers are hopeful that the powerful infrared capability of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope will resolve a puzzle as fundamental as stargazing itself -- what IS that dim light in the sky? Brown dwarfs muddy a clear distinction between stars and planets, throwing established understanding of those bodies, and theories of their formation, into question.
Tabby's Star: Alien megastructure not the cause of dimming of the 'most mysterious star in the universe'
Scientists are one step closer to solving the mystery behind the 'most mysterious star in the universe.'
Supermassive black holes control star formation in large galaxies
Young galaxies blaze with bright new stars forming at a rapid rate, but star formation eventually shuts down as a galaxy evolves. A new study shows that the mass of the black hole in the center of the galaxy determines how soon this 'quenching' of star formation occurs.
Scientists describe how solar system could have formed in bubble around giant star
Scientists have laid out a comprehensive theory for how our solar system could have formed in the wind-blown bubbles around a giant, long-dead star. The study addresses a nagging cosmic mystery about the abundance of two elements in our solar system compared to the rest of the galaxy.
Star in the constellation Pisces is 'eating' planets
Astronomers have discovered that a distant star called RZ Picseum in the constellation Pisces is crushing one or more planets into its orbit into a vast cloud of gas and dust.
'Cosmic lantern' could help us further understand the fate of the universe
New research has provided a deeper insight into emission line galaxies, used in several ongoing and upcoming surveys, to help us further understand the composition and fate of the universe.
Powerful new tool for looking for life beyond Earth
NASA has developed an innovative new spectroscopy instrument to aid the search for extraterrestrial life. The new instrument is designed to detect compounds and minerals associated with biological activity more quickly and with greater sensitivity than previous instruments.
The Halloween asteroid prepares to return in 2018
There is one year to go until asteroid 2015 TB-145 approaches Earth once again, just as it did in 2015 around the night of Halloween, an occasion which astronomers did not pass up to study its characteristics. This dark object measures between 625 and 700 meters, its rotation period is around three hours and, in certain lighting conditions, it resembles a human skull.
NASA solves how a Jupiter jet stream shifts into reverse
Speeding through the atmosphere high above Jupiter's equator is an east-west jet stream that reverses course on a schedule almost as predictable as a Tokyo train's. Now, a research team has identified which type of wave forces this jet to change direction.
The missing link between exploding stars, clouds, and climate on Earth
The study reveals how atmospheric ions, produced by the energetic cosmic rays raining down through the atmosphere, helps the growth and formation of cloud condensation nuclei -- the seeds necessary for forming clouds in the atmosphere.
Star mergers: A new test of gravity, dark energy theories
Observations and measurements of a neutron star merger have largely ruled out some theories relating to gravity and dark energy, and challenged a large class of theories.
Orbital mayhem around a red dwarf
In the collective imagination, planets of a solar system all circle around their star, in the equatorial plane of the star. The star also spins, and its spin axis is aligned with the spin axes of the planetary orbits, giving the impression of a well-ordered system. But nature is capricious, as astronomers just found out: they detected a planetary system turned upside down.
Black hole pair born inside a dying star?
Researchers are investigating the properties of gravitational waves and binary black holes to see if they formed inside a collapsing star.
Alien object 'Oumuama was a natural body visiting from another solar system
Scientists have investigated a mysterious object that passed close to Earth after arriving from deep interstellar space.
Better way to weigh millions of solitary stars
Astronomers have come up with a new and improved method for measuring the masses of millions of solitary stars, especially those with planetary systems.
Six-decade-old space mystery solved with shoebox-sized satellite called a CubeSat
A 60-year-old mystery about the source of energetic, potentially damaging particles in Earth's radiation belts has been solved using data from a shoebox-sized satellite built and operated by students. The satellite is called a CubeSat.
Artificial intelligence, NASA data used to discover eighth planet circling distant star
Our solar system now is tied for most number of planets around a single star, with the recent discovery of an eighth planet circling Kepler-90, a Sun-like star 2,545 light years from Earth. The planet was discovered in data from NASA's Kepler Space Telescope.
Dawn of a galactic collision
A riot of color and light dances through this peculiarly shaped galaxy, NGC 5256. Its smoke-like plumes are flung out in all directions and the bright core illuminates the chaotic regions of gas and dust swirling through the galaxy's center. Its odd structure is due to the fact that this is not one galaxy, but two -- in the process of a galactic collision.
Doing without dark energy
Three mathematicians have a different explanation for the accelerating expansion of the universe that does without theories of 'dark energy.' Einstein's original equations for General Relativity actually predict cosmic acceleration due to an 'instability,' they argue in a new paper.
Spanning disciplines in the search for life beyond Earth
Following a gold rush of exoplanet discovery, the next step in the search for life is determining which of the known exoplanets are proper candidates for life -- and for this, a cross-disciplinary approach is essential.
Mars mission sheds light on habitability of distant planets
Insights from NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, or MAVEN, mission about the loss of the Red Planet's atmosphere can help scientists understand the habitability of rocky planets orbiting other stars.
Giant storms cause palpitations in Saturn's atmospheric heartbeat
Immense northern storms on Saturn can disturb atmospheric patterns at the planet's equator, finds the international Cassini mission.
Stellar nursery blooms into view
The OmegaCAM camera on ESO's VLT Survey Telescope has captured this glittering view of the stellar nursery called Sharpless 29. Many astronomical phenomena can be seen in this giant image, including cosmic dust and gas clouds that reflect, absorb, and re-emit the light of hot young stars within the nebula.
Bright areas on Ceres suggest geologic activity
If you could fly aboard NASA's Dawn spacecraft, the surface of dwarf planet Ceres would generally look quite dark, but with notable exceptions. These exceptions are the hundreds of bright areas that stand out in images Dawn has returned. Now, scientists have a better sense of how these reflective areas formed and changed over time -- processes indicative of an active, evolving world.
Hubble's celestial snow globe
It's beginning to look a lot like the holiday season in this Hubble Space Telescope image of a blizzard of stars, which resembles a swirling snowstorm in a snow globe. The stars are residents of the globular star cluster Messier 79 (also known as M79 or NGC 1904), located 41,000 light-years from Earth, in the constellation Lepus.
Electrical and chemical coupling between Saturn and its rings
A Langmuir probe, flown to Saturn on the Cassini spacecraft, has made exciting discoveries in the atmosphere of the planet. They discovered that there is a strong coupling, both chemically and electrically, between the atmosphere of Saturn and its rings.