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1,794 articles from Astronomy.com

Strange Universe: Empty conclusions

In astronomy, we tend to use miles or kilometers for nearby objects like the Moon and Venus, and light-years or parsecs for star distances. Parsec is street slang for professional astronomers but usually bewildering to the public, since it’s based on angles rather than tape-measure-like distances. So, visualizing cosmic vastness starts with tackling that termContinue reading "Strange Universe:...

Where did the water on Mars go?

In movies, Matt Damon can grow potatoes on the Red Planet. But in reality, Mars is an extremely hostile environment. We know of only a single abode that suits fragile creatures like human beings well — right here on Earth. Mars has an atmosphere about 100 times more tenuous than our planet’s, and the mean surfaceContinue reading "Where did the water on Mars go?" The post Where did the...


FRIDAY 1. DECEMBER 2023


JWST detects methane in atmosphere of scorching hot WASP-80 b

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has just detected methane in the atmosphere of exoplanet WASP-80 b — and it has both little and everything to do with how we might someday find life in the cosmos. In research published Nov. 22 in Nature, a NASA-affiliated team reported the detection of methane in the atmosphereContinue reading "JWST detects methane in atmosphere of scorching hot WASP-80 b"...

The Andromeda and Milky Way collision, explained

The Andromeda Galaxy is approaching the Milky Way at nearly a quarter million miles per hour. It is the closet major galaxy to our Milky Way and is the most distant thing you can see with the naked eye at 2.5 million light years away. Absolute chaos will begin as the two galaxies approach eachContinue reading "The Andromeda and Milky Way collision, explained" The post The Andromeda and Milky Way...

Sky This Month: December 2023

Catch a glimpse of innermost planet Mercury soon after sunset in early December. Once darkness falls, you’ll find Saturn descending in the south and Jupiter high in the east. Both are ideally located for easy telescopic views in the early evening. Jupiter is near its best for the year and you’ll have many hours toContinue reading "Sky This Month: December 2023" The post Sky This Month:...

The Sky This Week from December 1 to 8: Mercury stands east of the Sun

Friday, December 1Many people have heard of the Summer Triangle — the large, three-pointed asterism that flies high overhead on warm summer nights and is now sinking toward the western horizon after dark. But have you heard of the Winter Triangle? This cold-weather asterism is now rising in the east late in the evening, inchingContinue reading "The Sky This Week from December 1 to 8: Mercury...

Scientists search for the soundtrack of the universe

I have just replaced Albert Einstein (a.d. 1879–1955) with Pythagoras (570–490 b.c.) as the one person, living or dead, with whom I would like to have dinner. That is quite a turnaround for me, since his Pythagorean theorem was the reason I failed my 10th-grade geometry class. It was enough to scare me away forContinue reading "Scientists search for the soundtrack of the universe" The post...


THURSDAY 30. NOVEMBER 2023


This newfound planet seems way too big for its tiny star

In the annals of planet hunting, astronomers’ latest find is a bit of a head-scratcher: a giant exoplanet tightly orbiting a star so tiny, it’s hard to understand how the star could have birthed it. The planet, which is named LHS 3154 b and was reported today in Science, tips the scales at 13.2 timesContinue reading "This newfound planet seems way too big for its tiny star" The post This...

Mary Cleave, ‘trailblazing’ astronaut, dies at 76

Mary Cleave, a former NASA astronaut and engineer, died Monday at age 76 according to a release from NASA, Cleave was the tenth woman in space, the first woman to fly in NASA’s Space Shuttle missions after the Challenger disaster of 1986, and the first woman to lead the Science Mission Directorate. “I’m sad we’ve lostContinue reading "Mary Cleave, ‘trailblazing’ astronaut,...


WEDNESDAY 29. NOVEMBER 2023


‘Tasmanian devil’ rises from slumber with brilliant bursts of light

In September 2022, a distant dead star reawakened with a flash of light. The brilliant and powerful pulsing signal is about one billion light-years from Earth and was picked up by 15 different telescopes worldwide. It’s named AT2022tsd or the “Tasmanian devil”. Mysterious signals called Luminous Fast Blue Optical Transients (LFBOTS) are the suspected sourceContinue reading...

Astronomers discover disk around star in another galaxy for the 1st time ever

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in the Chilean desert have just achieved an impressive astronomical first: Imaging a planet-forming disk around a star in another galaxy. The results of their efforts were published Wednesday in a paper in Nature. The discovery will now allow astronomers to watch as the star, HH 1177,Continue reading "Astronomers discover...

‘Shocked and delighted’: Astronomers find six planets orbiting in resonance

A newly discovered system of six planets circling a nearby Sun-like star may be the key to unlocking how planetary systems form. All between the size of Earth and Neptune, the worlds are orbiting in a so-called resonant chain — a configuration that it’s relatively rare to observe in nature, making the system a valuableContinue reading "‘Shocked and delighted’: Astronomers find six...

How do comets get their names?

Every so often, a comet, an icy visitor from deep in the outskirts of the solar system, comes hurtling toward the Sun on a long orbit, dazzling us with the apparition of its ghostly coma and long, shimmering tail. How do these comets get their names? It depends. Sometimes these visitors make only one passContinue reading "How do comets get their names?" The post How do comets get their names?...


TUESDAY 28. NOVEMBER 2023


The many mysteries NASA can solve on a mission to Uranus

Uranus, the seventh planet from the Sun, orbits in the outer solar system, about two billion miles (3.2 billion kilometers) from Earth. It is an enormous world – quadruple the diameter of Earth, with 15 times the mass and 63 times the volume. Unvisited by spacecraft for more than 35 years, Uranus inhabits one of the leastContinue reading "The many mysteries NASA can solve on a mission...


MONDAY 27. NOVEMBER 2023


4 of the weirdest objects in space

The universe is filled with bizarre objects. Then again, Earth is all we know. So what may seem wild and exotic to us is likely common throughout the cosmos. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that space is filled with many mysterious oddities that astronomers are just beginning to both discover and unravel.Continue reading "4 of the weirdest objects in space" The post 4 of the weirdest...

The Kármán Line: Where space begins

In this photograph captured by an astronaut aboard the International Space Station on July 31, 2011, the oblique angle reveals the layers of Earth’s atmosphere, along with a thin crescent Moon illuminated by the Sun sitting below the horizon. NASA Earth Observatory These days, spacecraft are venturing into the final frontier at a record pace.Continue reading "The Kármán Line: Where space...

The awakening of astronomy: This Week in Astronomy with Dave Eicher

From our earliest ancestors on the plains of Africa to astrology and finally to modern science, humans have always looked up to the sky. It’s easy to imagine that Sahelanthropus tchadensis, our earliest hominin ancestors thought to have walked upright, may have looked up at night 7 million years ago and wondered about the natureContinue reading "The awakening of astronomy: This Week in Astronomy...

JWST uncovers a surprising amount of nickel in adolescent galaxies

The James Webb Space Telescope’s (JWST’s) ability to peer back at cosmic dawn has nabbed a lot of attention from scientists and the public — but the machine is just as capable at peering into the universe’s adolescent years. A study published this month in The Astrophysical Journal Letters looks at some of these awkwardContinue reading "JWST uncovers a surprising amount of nickel in...


SATURDAY 25. NOVEMBER 2023


How the Moon formed

Once upon a time, our earliest ancestors, on the plains of Africa, gazed skyward and saw a bright Moon in our sky. Perhaps they wondered what it was and where it came from. The answers, however, took a very long time in coming. The brightest object in the night sky, a target of fascination andContinue reading "How the Moon formed" The post How the Moon formed appeared first on Astronomy...


FRIDAY 24. NOVEMBER 2023


Why is the universe expanding faster than predicted? A cosmologist explains what we know

Astronomers have known for decades that the universe is expanding. When they use telescopes to observe faraway galaxies, they see that these galaxies are moving away from Earth. To astronomers, the wavelength of light a galaxy emits is longer the faster the galaxy is moving away from us. The farther away the galaxy is, the more itsContinue reading "Why is the universe expanding faster...

The Sky This Week from November 24 to December 1: Celebrate November’s Full Beaver Moon

Friday, November 24Shortly after sunset tonight, celebrate the height of the fall season by finding a group of migrating birds in the night sky — except these birds are stars flying through the constellation Scutum as it slowly sets. We’re looking for the Wild Duck Cluster, also cataloged as M11. Binoculars will easily show theContinue reading "The Sky This Week from November 24 to December 1:...


THURSDAY 23. NOVEMBER 2023


NGC 7727’s cosmic merger foreshadows our own future

Lying 90 million light-years away in Aquarius, two galaxies in the midst of a cosmic merger were recently studied using the Gemini South Telescope in Chile. Astrophysicists captured streams of swirling gas and dust in NGC 7727, a peculiar galaxy containing two supermassive black holes separated by 1,600 light-years. The result is a mixture ofContinue reading "NGC 7727’s cosmic merger...


WEDNESDAY 22. NOVEMBER 2023


The galaxy cluster El Gordo moves faster than you might think

When the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) captured its first images in 2022, the scientific community was in awe by the abundance of unprecedented cosmic findings. Now it is peering far back into the early universe and bringing forth new insights into distant, massive galaxies. A recent study led by Elena Asencio, a University ofContinue reading "The galaxy cluster El Gordo moves faster than you...

How the exoplanet field exploded: This Week in Astronomy with Dave Eicher

It may be hard to imagine today, but just over 30 years ago, we knew of no planets in the universe besides those around our own Sun. Of course, for centuries, it was easy to imagine — for astronomers and sci-fi authors alike — that distant stars hosted planets of their own. And as earlyContinue reading "How the exoplanet field exploded: This Week in Astronomy with Dave Eicher" The post How the...