Some 380 light years away in the constellation Scorpius lies a star that has puzzled astronomers for over 40 years. Called AR Scorpii, the star flashes brightly and fades again every couple minutes, like a lightbulb on a dimmer switch. Now, astronomers have identified the cause of the flickering, and it’s a reminder…
Exoplanets are all the rage nowadays thanks in part to Kepler’s discovery of around 1,284 previously undiscovered planets and our never-ending fascination with the “final frontier” that just seems to be moving closer to a reality. But out of the thousands of planets that we know of, how many are set to support life?
Here’s some knowledge that’ll make you feel like a microbe: Our Milky Way galaxy, a collection of hundreds of billions of stars and worlds, is but a tiny nucleus buried deep inside an enormous blob of million-degree gas that’s spinning at a rip-roaring 400,000 miles per hour.
We can’t believe it’s been 40 years since NASA’s Viking mission became the first to successfully land a spacecraft on Mars. It took us only slightly less time to get the Curiosity Rover up there so we could get a closer look at our planet.
Neptune, the farthest named planet in our solar system (sorry Pluto), is unusual in a lot of ways. One rotation around the sun lasts about 165 Earth years, and each season is around 40 Earth years. Another noteworthy thing about the planet is its atmosphere, which has a fluctuating brightness.
SpaceX’s work in reusable rockets will get another push as scientists prepare Sunday for a launch and subsequent landing of the Falcon 9 rocket tonight.
Millions of years ago, a pair of exploding stars showered our planet with radioactive fallout. Had those supernovae popped off a bit closer to home, Earth’s biosphere would have been toast. But even at a distance of 300 light years, the stellar events might have had an impact on the evolution of life here.
One of the most surprising things about the Apollo 11 guidance computer source code isn’t just the sheer size of it, but rather the amount of in-jokes that scientists included with it.
A cloudy day here on Earth might be a sign for gloom, but elsewhere in the universe, to behold one is a scientific achievement.
Three hundred and twenty light years away in the Centaurus constellation sits one of the strangest planets humans have ever laid eyes on. It’s four times as massive as Jupiter and orbits twice as far out as Pluto—around one of its three suns.
An American woman was arrested this week for flooding Stephen Hawking’s email with death threats, then stalking him at an astronomy festival in the Canary Islands.
For the second time this year, physicists at the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational Waves Observatory (LIGO) are giddy with excitement. They’ve just confirmed the second detection of gravitational waves, ripples in the fabric of spacetime proposed by Albert Einstein a century ago. It seems we’ve officially…
One of the most incredible things about black holes is how much bigger they are than almost anything else out there. Now, a new image taken at the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) Observatory shows that we’ve been totally wrong about how they manage to grow so large.
A planned space-based gravitational wave observatory is one step closer to becoming a reality because a critical technological component just passed a series of tests with flying colors. The LISA Pathfinder collaboration announced the results of these experiments at a press briefing in Madrid this morning, along with…
Add this to the list of existential fears that keep you up at night: the universe appears to be expanding faster than we thought. A lot faster.
For centuries, astronomers have been enchanted by the planet Jupiter, that roiling sea of clouds punctuated by a glowering red eye. But we’ve only had the fuzziest notion of what lies beneath this violent visage—until now.
If you thought a comet that contains the building blocks of life and creates its own weather couldn’t get any more interesting, think again. Scientists finally have a theory as to why comet 67P—also known as Rosetta’s comet—has two distinct lobes. It’s actually two distinct comets, which break up, orbit one another,…
Something strange is going on in a distant corner of our universe. About a dozen supermassive black holes are all shooting enormous jets of energy in roughly the same direction. It could be a cosmic coincidence—but some astronomers suspect there are larger forces at play.
New Horizons has been sending back some incredible information about Pluto, but the Dwarf planet isn’t the only thing it’s been studying. NASA recently noted that the spacecraft’s vantage point is ideal for studying Solar Wind, and it’s been doing just that.
For the first time, astronomers have discovered a class of exoplanets whose atmospheres have been seared away by heat, removing any doubts about what happens when a rocky object wanders too close to a star.