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20 May 2020, 12:00 UTC Observations made with the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (ESO’s VLT) have revealed the telltale signs of a star system being born. Around the young star AB Aurigae lies a dense disc of dust and gas in which astronomers have spotted a prominent spiral structure with a ‘twist’ that marks the site where a planet may be forming. Next Previous
5 May 2020, 16:00 UTC Brown dwarfs, often called “failed stars,” weigh up to 80 times as much as Jupiter, yet their gravity compacts them to about the size of Jupiter in diameter. And like Jupiter, brown dwarfs can have clouds and weather. Astronomers have found evidence that the closest known brown dwarf, Luhman 16A, has Jupiter-like cloud bands. In contrast its companion brown dwarf, Luhman 16B, shows signs of patchy clouds. Next Previous
28 Apr 2020, 17:00 UTC The comet was first discovered in December 2019 by the ATLAS (Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System) robotic astronomical survey system in Hawaiʻi, USA. It brightened quickly until mid-March, and some astronomers initially anticipated that it might be visible to the naked eye in May to become one of the most spectacular comets seen in the last two decades. Next Previous
24 Apr 2020, 11:00 UTC On 24 April 1990 the Hubble Space Telescope was launched aboard the space shuttle Discovery, along with a five-astronaut crew. Deployed into low-Earth orbit a day later, the telescope has since opened a new eye onto the cosmos that has been transformative for our civilization. Next Previous
23 Apr 2020, 18:19 UTC Data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and ESA's XMM-Newton indicate that a star survived a close call with a black hole, as described in our latest press release. As a red giant star approached a supermassive black hole in the galaxy GSN 069, it was caught in the black hole's gravity. Next Previous
20 Apr 2020, 19:00 UTC The object was previously believed to be a planet, called Fomalhaut b, and was first announced in 2008 based on data taken in 2004 and 2006. It was clearly visible in several years of Hubble observations that revealed it as a moving dot. Unlike other directly imaged exoplanets, nagging puzzles with Fomalhaut b arose early on. The object was unusually bright in visible light, but did not have any detectable infrared heat signature. Next Previous
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center 3 Jun 2020, 18:00 UTC This view of sample site Osprey on asteroid Bennu is a mosaic of images collected by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft on May 26. A total of 347 PolyCam images were stitched together and corrected to produce the mosaic, which shows the site at 0.2 inches (5 mm) per pixel at full size. The spacecraft took these images during an 820-foot (250-meter) reconnaissance pass over the site, which is the closest Osprey has been imaged. The pass was designed to provide high-resolution imagery to identify the best areas within the site to collect a sample.
MIT 2 Jun 2020, 18:59 UTC Brown dwarfs are the middle child of astronomy, too big to be a planet yet not big enough to be a star. Like their stellar siblings, these objects form from the gravitational collapse of gas and dust. But rather than condensing into a star’s fiery hot nuclear core, brown dwarfs find a more zen-like equilibrium, somehow reaching a stable, milder state compared to fusion-powered stars.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center 2 Jun 2020, 15:15 UTC About 3.5 million years ago, the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy unleashed an enormous burst of energy. Our primitive ancestors, already afoot on the African plains, likely would have witnessed this flare as a ghostly glow high overhead in the constellation Sagittarius. It might have persisted for 1 million years.
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics 1 Jun 2020, 19:14 UTC Scientists at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, and the Black Hole Initiative (BHI), have shed light on how black holes grow over time by developing a new model to predict if growth by accretion or by mergers is dominant, according to the results of a study presented today at the virtual 236th meeting of the American Astronomical Society and published simultaneously in The Astrophysical Journal.
NASA Breaking News 30 May 2020, 19:38 UTC For the first time in history, NASA astronauts have launched from American soil in a commercially built and operated American crew spacecraft on its way to the International Space Station. The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley lifted off at 3:22 p.m. EDT Saturday on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center 29 May 2020, 11:30 UTC Far away in the Ursa Major constellation is a swirling galaxy that would not look out of place on a coffee made by a starry-eyed barista. NGC 3895 is a barred spiral galaxy that was first spotted by William Herschel in 1790 and was later observed by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.
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Gas Far Outside of Our Galaxy Illuminated by Enormous Burst of Energy Unleashed by Milky Way’s Black Hole3 Jun 2020, 12:45 UTC About 3.5 million years ago, the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy unleashed an enormous burst of energy. Our primitive ancestors, already afoot on the African plains, likely would have witnessed this flare as a ghostly glow high overhead in the constellation Sagittarius. It might have persisted for 1 million years.
Discover 2 Jun 2020, 19:30 UTC For a long time after their discovery in 1877, scientists assumed Mars’ two puny moons — Deimos and Phobos — were captured asteroids. This belief persisted until evidence revealed both moons formed at the same time as the Red Planet itself, and that the smaller one, Deimos, has a mysteriously tilted orbit. However, it wasn’t until 2017 that researchers put forth a new idea that could explain why Deimos' orbit is slanted by 2 degrees.
Bad Astronomy 2 Jun 2020, 13:00 UTC Three million people in the U.S. alone use lithium as a medication to treat mental illness, including bipolar and major depressive disorders. Lithium is also used in batteries; I have four large lithium-ion batteries in my garage that charge every day from solar panels and power my house at night, and electric cars also use lithium-ion batteries. It's used in making glass and many other products as well.