12 Jul 2018, 14:01 UTC For the first time ever, scientists using NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope have found the source of a high-energy neutrino from outside our galaxy. This neutrino traveled 3.7 billion years at almost the speed of light before being detected on Earth. This is farther than any other neutrino whose origin scientists can identify. Next Previous
11 Jul 2018, 10:00 UTC New observations with ESO’s Very Large Telescope show the star cluster RCW 38 in all its glory. This image was taken during testing of the HAWK-I camera with the GRAAL adaptive optics system. It shows RCW 38 and its surrounding clouds of brightly glowing gas in exquisite detail, with dark tendrils of dust threading through the bright core of this young gathering of stars. Next Previous
9 Jul 2018, 13:00 UTC Carnegie’s Eduardo Bañados led a team that found a quasar with the brightest radio emission ever observed in the early universe, due to it spewing out a jet of extremely fast-moving material. Bañados’ discovery was followed up by Emmanuel Momjian of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, which allowed the team to see with unprecedented detail the jet shooting out of a quasar that formed within the universe’s first billion years of existence. Next Previous
2 Jul 2018, 15:00 UTC Astronomers have found that the atmosphere of the hottest known exoplanet, the hot Jupiter-like planet KELT-9b, is "boiling off," with the escaping gas being captured by the host star. Using the CARMENES instrument at Calar Alto Observatory, Fei Yan and Thomas Henning of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg were able to detect the escaping hydrogen atmosphere of the planet. Their observations indicate a spread-out hydrogen envelope that is being pulled towards the host star. Next Previous
27 Jun 2018, 17:00 UTC `Oumuamua, the first interstellar object discovered in the Solar System, is moving away from the Sun faster than expected. This anomalous behaviour was detected by a worldwide astronomical collaboration including ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile. The new results suggest that `Oumuamua is most likely an interstellar comet and not an asteroid. The discovery appears in the journal Nature. Next Previous
21 Jun 2018, 18:00 UTC Astronomers using the MUSE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile, and the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, have made the most precise test yet of Einstein’s general theory of relativity outside the Milky Way. The nearby galaxy ESO 325-G004 acts as a strong gravitational lens, distorting light from a distant galaxy behind it to create an Einstein ring around its centre. By comparing the mass of ESO 325-G004 with the curvature of space around it, the astronomers found that gravity on these astronomical length-scales behaves as predicted by general relativity. This rules out some alternative theories of gravity. Next Previous
21 Jun 2018, 15:00 UTC A new study using data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory indicates that black holes have squelched star formation in small, yet massive galaxies known as "red nuggets", as reported in our latest press release. The results suggest some red nugget galaxies may have used some of the untapped stellar fuel to grow their central supermassive black holes to unusually massive proportions. Next Previous
14 Jun 2018, 18:49 UTC Astronomers, working on a project to detect supernovas, made a surprise discovery when they found that one supernova explosion was actually a star being pulled apart by a supermassive black hole. ASTRON's Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope was involved in the observations. Next Previous
13 Jun 2018, 14:00 UTC Two independent teams of astronomers have used ALMA to uncover convincing evidence that three young planets are in orbit around the infant star HD 163296. Using a novel planet-finding technique, the astronomers identified three disturbances in the gas-filled disc around the young star: the strongest evidence yet that newly formed planets are in orbit there. These are considered the first planets to be discovered with ALMA. Next Previous
7 Jun 2018, 16:54 UTC NASA’s Curiosity rover has found new evidence preserved in rocks on Mars that suggests the planet could have supported ancient life, as well as new evidence in the Martian atmosphere that relates to the search for current life on the Red Planet. While not necessarily evidence of life itself, these findings are a good sign for future missions exploring the planet’s surface and subsurface. The new findings – “tough” organic molecules in three-billion-year-old sedimentary rocks near the surface, as well as seasonal variations in the levels of methane in the atmosphere. Next Previous
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center 20 Jul 2018, 13:25 UTC At first glance, it may seem as though this image was taken through a faulty lens, but the mind-bending distortions visible in this impressive image taken with Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 are actually caused by a cosmic phenomenon.
MIT 18 Jul 2018, 14:59 UTC For nearly a century, astronomers have puzzled over the curious variability of young stars residing in the Taurus-Auriga constellation some 450 light years from Earth. One star in particular has drawn astronomers’ attention. Every few decades, the star’s light has faded briefly before brightening again. In recent years, astronomers have observed the star dimming more frequently, and for longer periods, raising the question: What is repeatedly obscuring the star? The answer, astronomers believe, could shed light on some of the chaotic processes that take place early in a star’s development. Now physicists from MIT and elsewhere have observed the star, named RW Aur A, using NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory. They’ve found evidence for what may have caused its most recent dimming event: a collision of two infant planetary bodies, which produced in its aftermath a dense cloud of gas and dust. As this planetary debris fell into the star, it generated a thick veil, temporarily obscuring the star’s light.
ESA Top News 18 Jul 2018, 13:00 UTC New research using a decade of data from ESA’s Mars Express has found clear signs of the complex martian atmosphere acting as a single, interconnected system, with processes occurring at low and mid levels significantly affecting those seen higher up.
ESA Space Science 18 Jul 2018, 06:13 UTC As Japan’s Hayabusa2 drew closer to its target Ryugu asteroid, a strange new planetoid came into view – but one with a somewhat familiar shape. This distinct ‘spinning top’ asteroid class has been seen repeatedly in recent years, and might give a foretaste of things to come for ESA’s proposed Hera mission.
ESA Top News 17 Jul 2018, 13:00 UTC It was 21 March 2013. The world’s scientific press had either gathered in ESA’s Paris headquarters or logged in online, along with a multitude of scientists around the globe, to witness the moment when ESA’s Planck mission revealed its ‘image’ of the cosmos. This image was taken not with visible light but with microwaves.
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Lights in the Dark 20 Jul 2018, 21:41 UTC This dramatic image, a color-composite I made from raw data captured by NASA’s Juno spacecraft, shows a bright band of high-altitude clouds on Jupiter’s northern hemisphere on July 16, 2018. Because of the abstract nature of Jupiter’s atmosphere in general (and a fun little phenomenon called pareidolia) one could find many different shapes in this view, but to me the band of clouds is reminiscent of a thick, twisted bath towel getting wrung dry.
Scientific American 20 Jul 2018, 17:00 UTC Most likely, this is the best-known picture of a flag ever taken: Buzz Aldrin standing next to the first U.S. flag planted on the Moon. For those who knew their world history, it also rang some alarm bells. Only less than a century ago, back on Earth, planting a national flag in another part of the world still amounted to claiming that territory for the fatherland. Did the Stars and Stripes on the moon signify the establishment of an American colony? When people hear for the first time that I am a lawyer practicing and teaching something called “space law,” the question they ask most frequently, often with a big smile or a twinkle in the eye, is: “So tell me, who owns the moon?”
Astrobiology Magazine 20 Jul 2018, 16:00 UTC Current techniques tend to only detect exoplanets with short orbital periods, however a new method developed by UNIGE researchers allows to find within months planets with periods lasting several years.
Starts With a Bang! 20 Jul 2018, 14:01 UTC The science of planet-hunting has truly taken off in the 21st century, with the transit method leading the way. When a planet passes in front of its parent star, relative to our line-of-sight, some of the star’s light will disappear for a short while. These transits are a prolific method for exoplanet hunters to search for worlds around other stars. As of today, we know of thousands of stars with worlds around them, and most of them were discovered by transit. When you design a mission optimized to look for planets, you expect that the technique is going to uncover a few oddities. But nothing prepared astronomers for the oddball that is Tabby’s star, whose flux dims by a tremendous amount, without any regularly repeating signals. After years of speculation involving scenarios ranging from comet storms to alien megastructures, scientists have finally solved the mystery. Dust, in an entirely new way, looks to be the culprit.
Starts With a Bang! 19 Jul 2018, 14:01 UTC One of the great mysteries in science is determining not only what’s out there, but what creates the signals we detect here on Earth. For over a century, we’ve known that zipping through the Universe are cosmic rays: high energy particles originating from far beyond our galaxy. While some sources for these particles have been identified, the overwhelming majority of them, including the ones that are most energetic, remain a mystery. As of today, all of that has changed. The IceCube collaboration, on September 22, 2017, detected an ultra-high-energy neutrino that arrived at the South Pole, and was able to identify its source. When a series of gamma-ray telescopes looked at that same position, they not only saw a signal, they identified a blazar, which happened to be flaring at that very moment. At last, humanity has discovered at least one source that creates these ultra-energetic cosmic particles.