Latest Space News
Artificial brain helps Gaia catch speeding stars - Read more >
Mon, 26 Jun 2017 10:00:00 +0200


With the help of software that mimics a human brain, ESA’s Gaia satellite spotted six stars zipping at high speed from the centre of our Galaxy to its outskirts. This could provide key information about some of the most obscure regions of the Milky Way. 


Summer solstice Sun - Read more >
Mon, 26 Jun 2017 09:30:00 +0200


Space Science Image of the Week: A multi-hued view of the Sun seen from space on 21 June

Hubble Captures Massive Dead Disk Galaxy that Challenges Theories of Galaxy Evolution
Wed, 21 Jun 2017 13:00:00 EDT

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Young, Dead, Compact, Disk Galaxy Surprises Astronomers, Offers New Clues to How Modern-Day Elliptical Galaxies Formed

Astronomers combined the power of a “natural lens” in space with the capability of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to make a surprising discovery—the first example of a compact yet massive, fast-spinning, disk-shaped galaxy that stopped making stars only a few billion years after the big bang. Researchers say that finding such a galaxy so early in the history of the universe challenges the current understanding of how massive galaxies form and evolve. Astronomers expected to see a chaotic ball of stars formed through galaxies merging together. Instead, they saw evidence that the stars were born in a pancake-shaped disk. The galaxy, called MACS 2129-1, is considered “dead” because it is no longer making stars. This new insight is forcing astronomers to rethink their theories of how galaxies burn out early on and evolve into local elliptical-shaped galaxies. “Perhaps we have been blind to the fact that early ‘dead’ galaxies could in fact be disks, simply because we haven’t been able to resolve them,” said study leader Sune Toft of the Dark Cosmology Center at the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen.


NASA Prepares for Aug. 21 Total Solar Eclipse with Live Coverage, Safety Information - Read more >
Wed, 21 Jun 2017 13:00 EDT

For the first time in 99 years, a total solar eclipse will occur across the entire continental United States, and NASA is preparing to share this experience of a lifetime on Aug. 21.

Gravitational wave mission selected, planet-hunting mission moves forward - Read more >
Tue, 20 Jun 2017 16:30:00 +0200


The LISA trio of satellites to detect gravitational waves from space has been selected as the third large-class mission in ESA’s Science programme, while the Plato exoplanet hunter moves into development.


Icy Moons, Galaxy Clusters, and Distant Worlds Among Selected Targets for James Webb Space Telescope
Thu, 15 Jun 2017 14:00:00 EDT

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Call for media: Last chance to view ESA’s Mercury Explorer BepiColombo - Read more >
Wed, 14 Jun 2017 18:00:00 +0200


Media representatives are invited to a briefing on BepiColombo, ESA and JAXA’s joint mission to Mercury, and to view the spacecraft before it leaves for Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, for launch next year.  


Media Invited to June 21 Science, Safety Briefings on August Total Solar Eclipse - Read more >
Tue, 13 Jun 2017 14:23 EDT

For the first time in 99 years, a total solar eclipse will cross the entire nation Aug. 21. Representatives from NASA, other federal agencies, and science organizations, will provide important viewing safety, travel and science information during two briefings at the Newseum in Washington starting at 1 p.m. EDT Wednesday, June 21.

The xenon connection - Read more >
Fri, 09 Jun 2017 15:55:00 +0200


Rosetta’s detection of xenon provides the first link between comets and our atmosphere

The future of the Orion constellation - Read more >
Fri, 09 Jun 2017 11:00:00 +0200


A new video, based on measurements by ESA’s Gaia and Hipparcos satellites, shows how our view of the Orion constellation will evolve over the next 450 000 years.


Window to a watery past on Mars - Read more >
Thu, 08 Jun 2017 11:00:00 +0200


This 70 km-wide crater and its surrounds offer a window into the watery past of the Red Planet.


Hubble Astronomers Develop a New Use for a Century-Old Relativity Experiment to Measure a White Dwarf's Mass
Wed, 07 Jun 2017 11:15:00 EDT

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White dwarf shows how gravity can bend starlight

Albert Einstein reshaped our understanding of the fabric of space. In his general theory of relativity in 1915, he proposed the revolutionary idea that massive objects warp space, due to the effects of gravity. Until that time, Isaac Newton's theory of gravity from two centuries earlier held sway: that space was unchanging. Einstein's theory was experimentally verified four years later when a team led by British astronomer Sir Arthur Eddington measured how much the sun's gravity deflected the image of a background star as its light grazed the sun during a solar eclipse. Astronomers had to wait a century, however, to build telescopes powerful enough to detect this gravitational warping phenomenon caused by a star outside our solar system. The amount of deflection is so small only the sharpness of the Hubble Space Telescope could measure it.

Hubble observed the nearby white dwarf star Stein 2051 B as it passed in front of a background star. During the close alignment, the white dwarf's gravity bent the light from the distant star, making it appear offset by about 2 milliarcseconds from its actual position. This deviation is so small that it is equivalent to observing an ant crawl across the surface of a quarter from 1,500 miles away.


Jackpot! Cosmic Magnifying-Glass Effect Captures Universe's Brightest Galaxies
Tue, 06 Jun 2017 15:15:00 EDT

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Galaxies Shine with the Brilliance of up to 100 Trillion Suns

Astronomers were fascinated in the 1980s with the discovery of nearby dust-enshrouded galaxies that glowed thousands of times brighter than our Milky Way galaxy in infrared light. Dubbed ultra-luminous infrared galaxies, they were star-making factories, churning out a prodigious amount of stars every year. What wasn't initially clear was what powered these giant infrared light bulbs. Observations by the Hubble Space Telescope helped astronomers confirm the source of the galaxies' light output. Many of them reside within "nests" of galaxies engaged in multiple pile-ups of three, four or even five galaxies. The dust is produced by the firestorm of star birth, which glows fiercely in infrared light.

Now Hubble is illuminating the bright galaxies' distant dust-enshrouded cousins. Boosted by natural magnifying lenses in space, Hubble has captured unique close-up views of the universe's brightest infrared galaxies. The galaxies are ablaze with runaway star formation, pumping out more than 10,000 new stars a year. This unusually rapid star birth is occurring at the peak of the universe's star-making boom more than 8 billion years ago. The star-birth frenzy creates lots of dust, which enshrouds the galaxies, making them too faint to detect in visible light. But they glow fiercely in infrared light, shining with the brilliance of 10 trillion to 100 trillion suns.

The galaxy images, magnified through a phenomenon called gravitational lensing, reveal a tangled web of misshapen objects punctuated by exotic patterns such as rings and arcs. The odd shapes are due largely to the foreground lensing galaxies' powerful gravity distorting the images of the background galaxies. Two possibilities for the star-making frenzy are galaxy collisions or gas spilling into the galaxies.


Mini-Flares Potentially Jeopardize Habitability of Planets Circling Red Dwarf Stars
Tue, 06 Jun 2017 11:15:00 EDT

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Solar flares and associated eruptions can trigger auroras on Earth or, more ominously, damage satellites and power grids. Could flares on cool, red dwarf stars cause even more havoc to orbiting planets, even rendering them uninhabitable? To help answer that question, astronomers sought to find out how many flares such stars typically unleash.

A new study of archival ultraviolet observations from the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) spacecraft detected dozens of flares from red dwarf stars. Some flares were weaker than any previously detected. Since smaller flares tend to occur more frequently, these tiny flares might have big implications for planetary habitability.


Hubble's Tale of Two Exoplanets: Nature vs. Nurture
Mon, 05 Jun 2017 15:15:00 EDT

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Atmospheres of Two Hot Jupiters: Cloudy and Clear

Astronomers once thought that the family of planets that orbit our sun were typical of what would eventually be found around other stars: a grouping of small rocky planets like Earth huddled close to their parent star, and an outer family of monstrous gaseous planets like Jupiter and Saturn.

But ever since the discovery of the first planet around another star (or exoplanet) the universe looks a bit more complicated — if not downright capricious. There is an entire class of exoplanets called "hot Jupiters." They formed like Jupiter did, in the frigid outer reaches of their planetary system, but then changed Zip code! They migrated inward to be so close to their star that temperatures are well over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Astronomers would like to understand the weather on these hot Jupiters and must tease out atmospheric conditions by analyzing how starlight filters through a planet's atmosphere. If the spectral fingerprint of water can be found, then astronomers conclude the planet must have relatively clear skies that lets them see deep into the atmosphere. If the spectrum doesn't have any such telltale fingerprints, then the planet is bland-looking with a high cloud deck.

Knowing the atmospheres on these distant worlds yields clues to how they formed and evolved around their parent star. In a unique experiment, astronomers aimed the Hubble Space Telescope at two "cousin" hot Jupiters that are similar in several respects. However, the researchers were surprised to learn that one planet is very cloudy, and the other has clear skies.


More to planets than meets the eye - Read more >
Thu, 01 Jun 2017 16:45:00 +0200


In ESA’s first event of its kind, members of the public have been invited to touch, taste and hear about life in the Universe in an immersive day of activities that are suitable for the sensory impaired. 


A Whole New Jupiter: First Science Results from NASA’s Juno Mission - Read more >
Thu, 25 May 2017 13:59 EDT

Early science results from NASA’s Juno mission to Jupiter portray the largest planet in our solar system as a complex, gigantic, turbulent world, with Earth-sized polar cyclones, plunging storm systems that travel deep into the heart of the gas giant.

Collapsing Star Gives Birth to a Black Hole
Thu, 25 May 2017 13:00:00 EDT

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Massive Dying Star Goes Out With a Whimper Instead of a Bang

Every second a star somewhere out in the universe explodes as a supernova. But some super-massive stars go out with a whimper instead of a bang. When they do, they can collapse under the crushing tug of gravity and vanish out of sight, only to leave behind a black hole. The doomed star, named N6946-BH1, was 25 times as massive as our sun. It began to brighten weakly in 2009. But, by 2015, it appeared to have winked out of existence. By a careful process of elimination, based on observations by the Large Binocular Telescope and the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, the researchers eventually concluded that the star must have become a black hole. This may be the fate for extremely massive stars in the universe.


James Webb Space Telescope Available for Media Viewing at NASA’s Johnson Space Center - Read more >
Wed, 24 May 2017 16:01 EDT

Media are invited to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston to view the James Webb Space Telescope and talk to experts about upcoming cryogenic vacuum tests at 10:15 a.m. CDT Wednesday, May 31.

Schiaparelli landing investigation completed - Read more >
Wed, 24 May 2017 15:00:00 +0200


The inquiry into the crash-landing of the ExoMars Schiaparelli module has concluded that conflicting information in the onboard computer caused the descent sequence to end prematurely.


Hubble Spots Moon Around Third Largest Dwarf Planet
Thu, 18 May 2017 13:00:00 EDT

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Most of the dwarf planets now have known moons

Beyond the orbit of Neptune lies a frigid, dark, vast frontier of countless icy bodies left over from the solar system's construction 4.6 billion years ago. This region, called the Kuiper Belt, was hypothesized by astronomer Gerard Kuiper in 1951. But it took another four decades for astronomers to confirm its existence. The largest bodies are called dwarf planets, with Pluto being the biggest member. Pluto is so big, in fact, that it was discovered 60 years before other Kuiper worlds were detected. Moons around dwarf planets are elusive, though. Pluto's moon Charon wasn't found until the mid-1970s.

Now, astronomers have uncovered a moon around another dwarf planet by using the combined power of three space observatories, including archival images from the Hubble Space Telescope. Called 2007 OR10, it is the third-largest dwarf planet in the Kuiper Belt. With this moon's discovery, most of the known dwarf planets in the Kuiper Belt larger than 600 miles across have companions. These bodies provide insight into how moons formed in the young solar system. In fact, there is an emerging view that collisions between planetary bodies can result in the formation of moons. Based on moon rock samples from NASA's Apollo mission, astronomers believe that Earth's only natural satellite was born out of a collision with a Mars-sized object 4.4 billion years ago.


Observatories Combine to Crack Open the Crab Nebula
Wed, 10 May 2017 13:00:00 EDT

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Colorful New Portrait Shows Energetic Details Embedded in Supernova Remnant
In the summer of the year 1054 AD, Chinese astronomers saw a new "guest star," that appeared six times brighter than Venus. So bright in fact, it could be seen during the daytime for several months. Halfway around the world, Native Americans made pictographs of a crescent moon with the bright star nearby that some think may also have been a record of the supernova.

This "guest star" was forgotten about until 700 years later with the advent of telescopes. Astronomers saw a tentacle-like nebula in the place of the vanished star and called it the Crab Nebula. Today we know it as the expanding gaseous remnant from a star that self-detonated as a supernova, briefly shining as brightly as 400 million suns. The explosion took place 6,500 light-years away. If the blast had instead happened 50 light-years away it would have irradiated Earth, wiping out most life forms.

In the late 1960s astronomers discovered the crushed heart of the doomed star, an ultra-dense neutron star that is a dynamo of intense magnetic field and radiation energizing the nebula. Astronomers therefore need to study the Crab Nebula across a broad range of electromagnetic radiation, from X-rays to radio waves. This composite picture from five observatories captures the complexity of this tortured-looking supernova remnant.


A Lot of Galaxies Need Guarding in This NASA Hubble View
Thu, 04 May 2017 10:00:00 EDT

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Power of Massive Galaxy Cluster Harnessed to Probe Remote Galaxies in Early Universe
Like the quirky characters in the upcoming film Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has some amazing superpowers, specifically when it comes to observing galaxies across time and space. One stunning example is galaxy cluster Abell 370, which contains a vast assortment of several hundred galaxies tied together by the mutual pull of gravity. That's a lot of galaxies to be guarding, and just in this one cluster! Photographed in a combination of visible and near-infrared light, the immense cluster is a rich mix of galaxy shapes. Entangled among the galaxies are mysterious-looking arcs of blue light. These are actually distorted images of remote galaxies behind the cluster. These far-flung galaxies are too faint for Hubble to see directly. Instead, the gravity of the cluster acts as a huge lens in space, magnifying and stretching images of background galaxies like a funhouse mirror. Abell 370 is located approximately 4 billion light-years away in the constellation Cetus, the Sea Monster. It is the last of six galaxy clusters imaged in the recently concluded Frontier Fields project — an ambitious, community-developed collaboration among NASA's Great Observatories and other telescopes that harnessed the power of massive galaxy clusters and probed the earliest stages of galaxy development.


Countdown to Cassini's Grand Finale - Read more >
Tue, 25 Apr 2017 15:30:00 +0200


After nearly 13 years in orbit around Saturn, the international Cassini–Huygens mission is about to begin its final chapter: the spacecraft will perform a series of daring dives between the planet and its rings, leading to a dramatic final plunge into Saturn's atmosphere on 15 September. 


A New Angle on Two Spiral Galaxies for Hubble's 27th Birthday
Thu, 20 Apr 2017 10:00:00 EDT

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Hubble Celebrates Its Anniversary with a Spectacular Pair of Galaxies

When the Hubble Space Telescope launched aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery on April 24, 1990, astronomers could only dream what they might see. Now, 27 years and more than a million observations later, the telescope delivers yet another magnificent view of the universe — this time, a striking pair of spiral galaxies much like our own Milky Way. These island cities of stars, which are approximately 55 million light-years away, give astronomers an idea of what our own galaxy would look like to an outside observer. The edge-on galaxy is called NGC 4302, and the tilted galaxy is NGC 4298. Although the pinwheel galaxies look quite different because they are angled at different positions on the sky, they are actually very similar in terms of their structure and contents.


Hubble Spots Possible Venting Activity on Europa
Thu, 13 Apr 2017 14:00:00 EDT

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Best Evidence Yet for Reoccurring Water Vapor Plumes Erupting from Jupiter’s Moon
When Galileo discovered Jupiter's moon Europa in 1610, along with three other satellites whirling around the giant planet, he could have barely imagined it was such a world of wonder.

This revelation didn't happen until 1979, when NASA's Voyager 1 and 2 flew by Jupiter and found evidence that Europa's interior, encapsulated under a crust of ice, has been kept warm over billions of years. The warmer temperature is due to gravitational tidal forces that flex the moon's interior — like squeezing a rubber ball — keeping it warm. At the time, one mission scientist even speculated that the Voyagers might catch a snapshot of geysers on Europa.

Such activity turned out to be so elusive that astronomers had to wait over three decades for the peering eye of Hubble to monitor the moon for signs of venting activity. A newly discovered plume seen towering 62 miles above the surface in 2016 is at precisely the same location as a similar plume seen on the moon two years earlier by Hubble. These observations bolster evidence that the plumes are a real phenomenon, flaring up intermittently in the same region on the satellite.

The location of the plumes corresponds to the position of an unusually warm spot on the moon's icy crust, as measured in the late 1990s by NASA's Galileo spacecraft. Researchers speculate that this might be circumstantial evidence for material venting from the moon's subsurface. The material could be associated with the global ocean that is believed to be present beneath the frozen crust. The plumes offer an opportunity to sample what might be in the ocean, in the search for life on that distant moon.


NASA Missions Provide New Insights into 'Ocean Worlds' in Our Solar System - Read more >
Thu, 13 Apr 2017 14:00 EDT

Two veteran NASA missions are providing new details about icy, ocean-bearing moons of Jupiter and Saturn, further heightening the scientific interest of these and other "ocean worlds" in our solar system and beyond. The findings are presented in papers published Thursday by researchers with NASA’s Cassini mission to Saturn and Hubble Space Telescop

NASA Scientists Find Dynamo at Lunar Core May Have Formed Magnetic Field - Read more >
Wed, 12 Apr 2017 11:13 EDT

The moon no longer has a magnetic field, but NASA scientists are publishing new research that shows heat from crystallization of the lunar core may have driven its now-defunct magnetic field some 3 billion years ago.

Stars on the move - Read more >
Wed, 12 Apr 2017 16:16:00 +0200


The motion of two million stars is traced five million years into the future using ESA’s Gaia

Meet the fleet - Read more >
Wed, 12 Apr 2017 10:35:00 +0200


New artist's views of the BepiColombo spacecraft that will be launched to Mercury in 2018

NASA to Reveal New Discoveries in News Conference on Oceans Beyond Earth - Read more >
Mon, 10 Apr 2017 13:08 EDT

NASA will discuss new results about ocean worlds in our solar system from the agency’s Cassini spacecraft and the Hubble Space Telescope during a news briefing 2 p.m. EDT on Thursday, April 13.

NASA's MAVEN Reveals Mars Has Metal in its Atmosphere - Read more >
Mon, 10 Apr 2017 12:00 EDT

Mars has electrically charged metal atoms (ions) high in its atmosphere, according to new results from NASA's MAVEN spacecraft. The metal ions can reveal previously invisible activity in the mysterious electrically charged upper atmosphere (ionosphere) of Mars.

Hubble Takes Close-up Portrait of Jupiter
Thu, 06 Apr 2017 13:00:00 EDT

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Majestic Giant Planet is a Swirl of Colorful Clouds
Named after the Roman king of the gods, the immense planet Jupiter is undoubtedly king of the solar system. Containing more mass than all the other planets combined, Jupiter's immense gravitational field deflects wayward comets that otherwise might slam into Earth, wreaking havoc.

This dazzling Hubble Space Telescope photo of Jupiter was taken when it was comparatively close to Earth, at a distance of 415 million miles. Hubble reveals the intricate, detailed beauty of Jupiter's clouds as arranged into bands of different latitudes, known as tropical regions. These bands are produced by air flowing in different directions at various latitudes. Lighter colored areas, called zones, are high-pressure where the atmosphere rises. Darker low-pressure regions where air falls are called belts. The planet's trademark, the Great Red Spot, is a long-lived storm roughly the diameter of Earth. Much smaller storms appear as white or brown-colored ovals. Such storms can last as little as a few hours or stretch on for centuries.


Exoplanet mission gets ticket to ride - Read more >
Thu, 06 Apr 2017 16:30:00 +0200


A Soyuz rocket operated by Arianespace from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou will boost ESA’s upcoming exoplanet satellite into space.


Crater triplets - Read more >
Thu, 06 Apr 2017 11:00:00 +0200


At first glance this scene may seem nothing out of the ordinary, but the large elongated crater marks the imprint of an impacting body that may have broken into three before it hit Mars.


NASA’s Cassini Mission Prepares for 'Grand Finale' at Saturn - Read more >
Tue, 04 Apr 2017 15:03 EDT

NASA's Cassini spacecraft, in orbit around Saturn since 2004, is about to begin the final chapter of its remarkable story. On Wednesday, April 26, the spacecraft will make the first in a series of dives through the 1,500-mile-wide (2,400-kilometer) gap between Saturn and its rings as part of the mission’s grand finale.

NASA's MAVEN Reveals Most of Mars' Atmosphere Was Lost to Space - Read more >
Thu, 30 Mar 2017 14:03 EDT

Solar wind and radiation are responsible for stripping the Martian atmosphere, transforming Mars from a planet that could have supported life billions of years ago into a frigid desert world, according to new results from NASA's MAVEN spacecraft.

Search For Stellar Survivor of a Supernova Explosion
Thu, 30 Mar 2017 13:00:00 EDT

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Star might answer question of how white dwarfs explode
Of all the varieties of exploding stars, the ones called Type Ia are perhaps the most intriguing. Their predictable brightness lets astronomers measure the expansion of the universe, which led to the discovery of dark energy. Yet the cause of these supernovae remains a mystery. Do they happen when two white dwarf stars collide? Or does a single white dwarf gorge on gases stolen from a companion star until bursting?

If the second theory is true, the normal star should survive. Astronomers used NASA's Hubble Space Telescope to search the gauzy remains of a Type Ia supernova in a neighboring galaxy called the Large Magellanic Cloud. They found a sun-like star that showed signs of being associated with the supernova. Further investigations will be needed to learn if this star is truly the culprit behind a white dwarf's fiery demise.


NASA Announces Astronomy and Astrophysics Fellows for 2017
Wed, 29 Mar 2017 13:00:00 EDT

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Some of the world's most exciting, young scientists to help NASA explore mysteries of the cosmos
NASA has selected 28 Fellows for its prestigious Einstein, Hubble, and Sagan fellowships. Each post-doctoral fellowship provides three years of support to awardees to pursue independent research in astronomy and astrophysics. The new Fellows will begin their programs in the fall of 2017 at a host university or research center of their choosing in the United States.


Final two ExoMars landing sites chosen - Read more >
Tue, 28 Mar 2017 17:00:00 +0200


Two ancient sites on Mars that hosted an abundance of water in the planet’s early history have been recommended as the final candidates for the landing site of the 2020 ExoMars rover and surface science platform: Oxia Planum and Mawrth Vallis.


Art-science residency - Read more >
Fri, 24 Mar 2017 14:28:00 +0100


Aoife van Linden Tol, recipient of the first ESA–Ars Electronica residency, spent three weeks at ESA researching for her Star Storm project

Gravitational Wave Kicks Monster Black Hole Out Of Galactic Core
Thu, 23 Mar 2017 13:00:00 EDT

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Runaway black hole is the most massive ever detected far from its central home
Normally, hefty black holes anchor the centers of galaxies. So researchers were surprised to discover a supermassive black hole speeding through the galactic suburbs. Black holes cannot be observed directly, but they are the energy source at the heart of quasars — intense, compact gushers of radiation that can outshine an entire galaxy. NASA's Hubble Space Telescope made the discovery by finding a bright quasar located far from the center of the host galaxy.

Researchers estimate that it took the equivalent energy of 100 million supernovas exploding simultaneously to jettison the black hole. What could pry this giant monster from its central home? The most plausible explanation for this propulsive energy is that the monster object was given a kick by gravitational waves unleashed by the merger of two black holes as a result of a collision between two galaxies. First predicted by Albert Einstein, gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of space that are created when two massive objects collide.


Before and after: unique changes spotted on Rosetta’s comet - Read more >
Tue, 21 Mar 2017 15:30:00 +0100


Growing fractures, collapsing cliffs, rolling boulders and moving material burying some features on the comet’s surface while exhuming others are among the remarkable changes documented during Rosetta’s mission.


Hubble Discovery of Runaway Star Yields Clues to Breakup of Multiple-Star System
Fri, 17 Mar 2017 13:00:00 EDT

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Star Is Missing Link to a System that Flew Apart Over 500 Years Ago
In the 1400s, two power struggles were taking place quadrillions of miles apart. In England, two rival branches of the royal House of Plantagenet were battling each other for control of the country's throne. And, in a nebula far, far away, a cluster of stars was waging a real-life star wars, with the stellar members battling each other for supremacy in the Orion Nebula. The gravitational tussle ended with the system breaking apart and at least three stars being ejected in different directions.

Astronomers spotted two of the speedy, wayward stars over the past few decades. They traced both stars back 540 years to the same location and suggested they were part of a now-defunct multiple-star system. But the duo's combined energy, which is propelling them outward, didn't add up. The researchers reasoned there must be at least one other culprit that robbed energy from the stellar toss-up. Now NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has helped astronomers find the final piece of the puzzle by nabbing a third runaway star, which was a member of the same system as the two previously known stars. The stars reside in a small region of young stars called the Kleinmann-Low Nebula, near the center of the vast Orion Nebula complex, located 1,300 light-years from Earth.


Hubble Dates Black Hole’s Last Big Meal
Thu, 09 Mar 2017 13:00:00 EST

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Energetic Event 'Burped' Billowing Plasma Bubbles 6 Million Years Ago
About 6 million years ago, when our very remote ancestors began to evolve away from chimpanzees, our Milky Way galaxy's hefty black hole was enjoying a sumptuous feast. It gulped down a huge clump of interstellar hydrogen.

Now, eons later, we see the result of the black hole feast. The black hole "burped" hot plasma that is now towering far above and below the plane of our galaxy. These invisible bubbles, weighing the equivalent of millions of suns, are called the Fermi Bubbles. Their energetic gamma-ray glow was first discovered in 2010 by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. (Enrico Fermi was an Italian physicist who created the world's first nuclear reactor.)

Astronomers have wondered how long ago the gaseous lobes were created, and if the process was slow or rapid. Hubble observations of the northern bubble have solved the question by determining a more precise age for the bubbles. Hubble was used to measure the speed of the gasses in the billowing bubbles, and astronomers could then calculate back to the time when they were born in a fast, energetic event.


Once upon a time... - Read more >
Fri, 23 Dec 2016 19:03:00 +0100


A feature-length compilation of the amazing adventures of Rosetta and Philae