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Monday, June 6, 2016

Astronomy Magazine News

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Your online destination for news articles on planets, cosmology, NASA, space missions, and more. You’ll also find information on how to observe upcoming visible sky events such as meteor showers, solar and lunar eclipses, key planetary appearances, comets, and asteroids.
Monday, June 6, 2016

Hubble spots heavy, ancient, metal-filled stars pulsing away

This 10.5-billion-year-old globular cluster, NGC 6496, is home to heavy-metal stars of a celestial kind! The stars comprising this spectacular spherical cluster are enriched with much higher proportions of metals — elements heavier than hydroge...

“Wasteful” galaxies launch heavy elements into surrounding halos and deep space, study finds

Galaxies “waste” large amounts of heavy elements generated by star formation by ejecting them up to a million light-years away into their surrounding halos and deep space, according to a new study led by the University of Colorado Boulder...
Friday, June 3, 2016

NASA’s Hubble finds universe is expanding faster than expected

Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have discovered that the universe is expanding five to nine percent faster than expected. “This surprising finding may be an important clue to understanding those mysterious parts of the un...

A new planetarium show shines a light on a dark solar system mystery

In June 1846, Urbain le Verrier laid out the case for a planet tugging on Uranus, disturbing its orbit ever so slightly. His calculations told everyone where to look. That September, Neptune was found, becoming the eighth known planet in the solar sy...

Secrets revealed from Pluto’s “twilight zone”

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft took this stunning image of Pluto only a few minutes after closest approach on July 14, 2015. The image was obtained at a high phase angle — that is, with the Sun on the other side of Pluto, as viewed by New...
Thursday, June 2, 2016

Pluto’s heart: Like a cosmic “lava lamp”

Like a cosmic lava lamp, a large section of Pluto's surface is being constantly renewed by a process called convection that replaces older surface ices with fresher material. Combining computer models with topographic and compositional data gathered ...

New observational distance record promises important tool for studying galaxies

Astronomers have used new capabilities of the National Science Foundation's Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) to open a whole new realm of research into how galaxies evolve and interact with their surroundings over cosmic time. They detected the ...

Jupiter’s clouds hide huge pillars of ammonia gasses

When NASA’s Galileo mission sent a probe down into Jupiter’s clouds, it sent back an unusual find: The probe seemed to be plummeting into a thick stew of slow-moving ammonia, in contrast to the more varied upper atmosphere. Now, a Berke...
Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Measuring the Milky Way: one massive problem, one new solution

It is a galactic challenge, to be sure, but Gwendolyn Eadie is getting closer to an accurate answer to a question that has defined her early career in astrophysics: what is the mass of the Milky Way? The short answer, so far, is 7 x 1011 solar masse...

For some comets, breaking up is not that hard to do

A new study led by Purdue University and the University of Colorado Boulder indicates the bodies of some periodic comets — objects that orbit the Sun in less than 200 years — may regularly split in two, then reunite down the road. In fac...

This Was How NASA Envisioned a Mars Trip in the 1950s

In the 1950s, NASA was just getting its footing. It became a new agency in 1958, launching its first satellite, Pioneer 1, later that year. But even at that time, the agency had big, ambitious plans brewing, including a feasibility study on using nuc...

King Tut May Have Carried Around a Meteor-Forged Dagger

Tutankhamun, the famous pharoah of Egypt who died at the age of 19 after a 10 year reign, may have owned, and been buried with, a dagger made of a meteorite. According to a new study published in The Meteoritical Society on March 29th, 2016, research...
Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Kickstarter Shines a Light on Tabby's Star

A new Kickstarter campaign could help shine a light on the “most mysterious star in the galaxy.” Yale University professor Tabetha Boyajian, for whom Tabby’s Star is named, turned to a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for further...

ESA will use its martian “webcam” for serious science

Mars Express was launched in 2003 with a simple low-resolution camera to provide visual confirmation that its Beagle 2 lander had separated. Once that was done, the camera was switched off, and the craft got on with its main mission using its “...
Friday, May 27, 2016

A planet 1,200 light-years away is a good prospect for a habitable world

A distant planet known as Kepler-62f could be habitable, a team of astronomers reports. The planet, which is about 1,200 light-years from Earth in the direction of the constellation Lyra, is approximately 40 percent larger than Earth. At that size, ...

NASA’s Juno spacecraft crosses Jupiter/Sun gravitational boundary

Since its launch five years ago, there have been three forces tugging at NASA's Juno spacecraft as it speeds through the solar system. The Sun, Earth, and Jupiter have all been influential — a gravitational trifecta of sorts. At times, Earth wa...
Thursday, May 26, 2016

Mars Is Emerging From an Ice Age 

New observations suggest that Mars has very periodic ice ages showing that the polar ice caps grow and shrink as the planet warms or cools similar to Earth. In a new article in Science, Isaac Smith and his colleagues were able to determine that the ...

Number of habitable planets could be limited by stifling atmospheres

New research from Imperial College London and the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton say that fewer than predicted planets may be capable of harboring life because their atmospheres keep them too hot. When looking for planets that could ha...

Close encounters of a tidal kind could lead to cracks on icy moons

A new model developed by University of Rochester researchers could offer a new explanation as to how cracks on icy moons, such as Pluto's Charon, formed. Until now, it was thought that the cracks were the result of geodynamical processes, such as p...
Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Spirit in memoriam 

Five years ago today, NASA officially ceased recovery efforts for the Spirit rover. They didn’t give up without a fight. The rover had been silent since March of 2010, more than a year earlier, and stationary since 2009, when it drove into a pa...

Supermassive black holes cause galactic-scale warming

For most of their lives, galaxies are lush environments for turning gas into stars. Until they aren’t. Over the last few billion years, a mysterious kind of “galactic warming” has turned huge numbers of galaxies into deserts devoid...

Footprints of baby planets found in a gas disk

A new analysis of the ALMA data for a young star HL Tauri provides yet more firm evidence of baby planets around the star. Researchers uncovered two gaps in the gas disk around HL Tauri. The locations of these gaps in the gas match the locations of g...
Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Astronomers discover fresh lunar craters

A Southwest Research Institute-led (SwRI) team of scientists discovered two geologically young craters — one 16 million, the other between 75 and 420 million, years old — in the Moon’s darkest regions. “These ‘young&rsq...

NASA telescopes find clues for how giant black holes formed so quickly

Using data from NASA’s Great Observatories, astronomers have found the best evidence yet for cosmic seeds in the early universe that should grow into supermassive black holes. Researchers combined data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observato...


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