Pluto may not be a planet, but it remains one of the most intriguing objects in the outer Solar System. Its unexpected chemical composition has confounded scientists for years, but a new theory may finally hold the answer. Pluto, according to a pair of Southwest Research Institute scientists, is basically an overgrown…
I think I’m going to let this one speak for itself:
Around the same time our ancestors left Africa, a dim red dwarf star came to within 0.8 light-years of our Sun, marking the closest known flyby of a star to our Solar System. New research suggests Scholz’s Star, as it’s known, left traces of this interstellar encounter by perturbing some comets in the outer Oort Cloud.
There’s already a strange story behind comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresák, or just 41P: It took almost 100 years to identify and occasionally flares. And now, its spin is rapidly slowing down.
Scientists know of 750,000 or so asteroids and comets—and all of them are part of this fine solar system. That is, all of them but one. And as new research shows, it’s weird as hell.
Behold C/2017 K2 (PANSTARRS), or “K2" for short. At a jaw-dropping distance of 1.5 billion miles (2.4 billion km) from the Sun, it’s the farthest active inbound comet ever documented by astronomers.
Is it an asteroid? A comet? Both? Observations by the Hubble Space Telescope are revealing new details about a strange binary asteroid that’s performing double-duty as a comet. It’s the first time scientists have ever seen such a thing.
Xenon is a peculiar element. It certainly has one of the most mysterious names (from the Greek xenos, or “stranger”). As a noble gas, it refuses to bond with other elements except under exotic conditions. And its uses are all about as creepy as its name: Folks use it for its eerie glow, to detect radiation, or in its…
Japan’s Proximate Object Close Flyby with Optical Navigation (PROCYON) has been lost in space ever since its ion thrusters blew out in 2014. Since then, the tiny spacecraft has done its best to be useful, orbiting the Sun by itself. A new study reveals the PROCYON made some impressive observations on Comet…
A glowing green ball of ice and rock is zipping past the Earth and on December 31st, it can be spotted near the crescent moon—in a dark sky, with the aid of some good binoculars. But for those hoping this comet will veer off course and take aim straight at our sorry planet? Sorry, 2016 isn’t that merciful.
With the historic Rosetta mission now over, the ESA has compiled a four-minute simulation showing the spacecraft’s complete journey as it weaved around Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.
The historic Rosetta mission has finally come to an end. Over the past two years, the probe’s many instruments have scanned virtually every nook and cranny of this weirdly shaped rock, unleashing a treasure trove of new information about comets in general, and 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko in particular.
The Rosetta spacecraft has spent three years peering at Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko from orbit—but this week, its watch will end. Tomorrow, Rosetta begins a controlled descent to its final resting place on the edge of an enormous pit, where it’ll remain frozen until the space rock itself is destroyed, or until the…
In just seven days, the Rosetta spacecraft will smash into Comet 67P. A new visualization shows how it’ll go down.
Astronomers working with the Hubble Space Telescope have captured unprecedented images of a comet in the process of disintegration. It’s our clearest view yet of this celestial phenomenon in action.
In two weeks, the European Space Agency will crash-land its prized Rosetta spacecraft, marking a dramatic end to the whirlwind two-year science mission that saw humanity’s first-ever comet landing. It’ll be 48 action-packed hours as Rosetta descends to its ultimate resting place on Comet 67P—and to get you properly…
In the shadow of a cliff on an icy rock 700 million kilometers from Earth, a washing machine-sized robot by the name of Philae has spent the last two years in hibernation. We’d already given up hope of speaking with humanity’s first and only comet lander ever again, and time was running out to catch a final, fleeting…
The European Space Agency lost contact with its Rosetta mission’s plucky little lander, Philae, in May 2015. Now the orbiter’s high-resolution camera has found Philae wedged into a dark crack on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
Reminding us of our own fragile mortality, a large, bright comet just streaked across the sky and straight into our nearest neighboring star. You will absolutely believe what happened next because it has happened to you in a nightmare, admit it.