The collection of rocky planets orbiting distant stars has just grown by one, and the latest discovery is the most intriguing one to date. The newfound world, although hot as an oven, is cool enough to potentially host an atmosphere. If it does, it's close enough (only 39 light-years away) that we could study that atmosphere in detail with the Hubble Space Telescope and future observatories like the Giant Magellan Telescope.
Continue reading "Alien Venus Found 39-Light Years Away --"Will Be a Favorite of Astronomers for Years to Come"" »
Orbiting a mere 3,700 miles (6,000 kilometers) above the surface of Mars, Phobos is closer to its planet than any other moon in the solar system. Mars’ gravity is drawing in Phobos, the larger of its two moons, by about 6.6 feet (2 meters) every hundred years. Scientists expect the moon to be pulled apart in 30 to 50 million years. The long, shallow grooves lining the surface of Phobos are likely early signs of the structural failure that will ultimately destroy this moon of Mars.
Continue reading "Mars' Moon Phobos --"Tidal Forces Tearing It Apart"" »
Leaders and supporters from an international group of partner universities and research institutions, are gathering on a remote mountaintop high in the Chilean Andes today to celebrate groundbreaking for the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT). The ceremony marks the commencement of on-site construction of the telescope and its support base. The GMT is poised to become the world’s largest telescope when it begins early operations in 2021. It will produce images 10 times as sharp as those delivered by the Hubble Space Telescope and will address key questions in cosmology, astrophysics and the study of planets outside our solar system.
Continue reading "Giant Magellan Telescope: World's Largest --"May Reveal Birth of the Cosmos"" »
The remains of a fatal interaction between a dead star and its asteroid supper have been studied in detail for the first time by an international team of astronomers using the Very Large Telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile. This gives a glimpse of the far-future fate of the Solar System.
Continue reading "Halo Observed Around a Zombie Star --"A Preview of Our Solar System's Fate"" »
From possible ice volcanoes to geologically diverse surfaces to oddly behaving moons that could have formed through mergers of smaller moons, Pluto system discoveries continue to surprise scientists on NASA’s New Horizons mission team.
Continue reading "NASA: Pluto's Active Ice Volcanoes? --"Tens of Kilometers Across and Several Kilometers High"" »
An international research team has resolved the mystery of the processes involved in the Mediterranean Sea drying up around 5.6 million years ago. The event, known as the Messinian Salinity Crisis (MSC), saw the Mediterranean become a 1.5km deep basin for around 270,000 years. It also left a kilometers-deep layer of salt due to seawater evaporation.
Continue reading "Eco Debate: "Growing Antarctic Ice Sheet Caused Ancient Mediterranean to Dry Up"" »
An enduring astronomical mystery is how stars and galaxies acquire their magnetic fields. Physicists Jonathan Squire and Amitava Bhattacharjee at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have found a clue to the answer in the collective behavior of small magnetic disturbances. In a paper published in October in Physical Review Letters, the scientists report that small magnetic perturbations can combine to form large-scale magnetic fields just like those found throughout the universe.
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Peering into darkness can strike fear into the hearts of some, but a new space telescope will soon peer into the darkness of "near space" (within a few thousand light years of Earth). Scientists are using the telescope to seek answers related to the field of high-energy astrophysics.
Continue reading "New International-Space-Station Telescope: "Could Unveil the Nature of Dark Matter"" »
Could there be intelligent life hanging out in the vicinity of the star system KIC 8462852? The strange and strong dimming of this star has encouraged speculation that a technologically sophisticated civilization has built megastructures in orbit there. Given this possibility, the SETI Institute has trained its Allen Telescope Array situated in the High Sierra's on this star for more than two weeks. Finding a signal would be a strong indication for the presence of intelligence.
Continue reading "SETI's Allen Telescope Array Fails to Detect "ET Megastructure" Signals From Star System KIC 8462852" »
NASA's Swift spacecraft has detected its 1,000th gamma-ray burst (GRB). GRBs are the most powerful explosions in the universe, typically associated with the collapse of a massive star and the birth of a black hole.
Continue reading "NASA --"Detecting a Universe of Black Hole Births"" »