Looking for Alien Life on Bizarre "Eyeball Planets" 

It's easy for us Earthlings to imagine life evolving on planets like ours. But there are exoplanets out there that strain the imagination. Take "eyeball planets," which are half frozen, half broiling with the heat of their suns. Earthlike planet Zarmina, in the Gliese system, is one of these. We shouldn't rule these… » 2/20/15 6:35pm 2/20/15 6:35pm

The Origin of Joy Division's Most Famous Album Cover, Finally Revealed

The cover of Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures is famously graced with the radio pulses of a dying star. Its origins, however, have always been unclear. But now, Scientific American's Jen Christiansen has followed the rabbit hole to the very end—to an obscure 1970 PhD astronomy thesis and the guy who wrote it. » 2/18/15 5:50pm 2/18/15 5:50pm

Two-mile-high structures rising on Saturn's rings

Someone on Reddit posted this old November 2010 image by the Cassini spacecraft. It shows 2-mile-high (3.5-kilometer) structures rising on Saturn's B ring's outer edge. We talked about this back then, but it's a great peg to show this cool artist impression of what it would look like from the ring itself: » 12/29/14 11:33pm 12/29/14 11:33pm

You Can Discover New Planets with a DSLR 

Wouldn't it be cool to discover a planet circling a lonely star light years away from Earth? Maybe you'd even get to name it. Actually exploring deep space is hard, but as IEEE Spectrum's David Schneider points out, detecting exoplanets is pretty simple, simple enough that a basic DSLR and a telephoto lens can do it. » 12/15/14 11:42am 12/15/14 11:42am

Is It Time to Accept That We're Alone in the Universe?

We have yet to discover any signs of aliens, a troubling observation that has led to much speculation. One possible solution to the Great Silence is that nobody's out there. It's a conclusion that sounds impossible to believe, but there may be something to it. Here's why we may be alone in the universe. » 11/05/14 5:17pm 11/05/14 5:17pm