Astrophysics News

Scientists Expect High-Energy Explosions When Pulsar J2032 Swings Around Its Companion Star

July 2, 2015

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Expect High-Energy Explosions When Pulsar J2032 Swings Around Its Massive Companion Star

NASA scientists are expecting high-energy explosions when pulsar J2032 swings around its massive companion star and plunges through a disk of gas and dust surrounding the star. Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center Astronomers are gearing up for high-energy fireworks coming in early 2018, when a stellar remnant the size of a city meets one […]

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New Cosmic Model Favors “Big Rip” Demise of Universe

July 1, 2015

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Big Bang to Big Rip Illustration

A fundamentally new mathematical formulation from Vanderbilt University has some significant implications for the ultimate fate of the universe. The universe can be a very sticky place, but just how sticky is a matter of debate. That is because for decades cosmologists have had trouble reconciling the classic notion of viscosity based on the laws […]

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Astronomers Discover Disilicon Carbide in Space

June 30, 2015

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Astronomers Discover Dust-Forming Molecule Si-C-Si

After decades of speculation and searching, astronomers have discovered the important dust-forming molecule Si-C-Si (disilicon carbide) in space. The space between stars is not empty — it contains a vast reservoir of diffuse material with about 5-10% of the total mass of our Milky Way galaxy. Most of the material is gas, but about 1% […]

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NASA Monitors a Rare X-ray Outburst from a Stellar-Mass Black Hole

June 30, 2015

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NASA Monitors a Waking Black Hole

Astronomers around the world are watching the onset of a rare X-ray outburst from a stellar-mass black hole in the binary system V404 Cygni. On June 15, NASA’s Swift caught the onset of a rare X-ray outburst from a stellar-mass black hole in the binary system V404 Cygni. Astronomers around the world are watching the […]

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Spitzer Reveals Possible “Rejuvenated” Planet

June 26, 2015

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Evidence of a Rejuvenated Planet

NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has detected excess infrared light around white dwarf PG 0010+280. Scientists aren’t sure where the light is coming from, but one possibility is a rejuvenated planet. Future observations may help solve this mystery. For a planet, this would be like a day at the spa. After years of growing old, a […]

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NASA Supercomputer Shows Exoplanet Making Waves in Nearby Debris Disk

June 26, 2015

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NASA Supercomputer Shows Planet Making Waves

Astrophysicists have created a new supercomputer simulation of the planet and debris disk around the Beta Pictoris. The new supercomputer model reveals that the planet’s motion drives spiral waves throughout the disk, a phenomenon that causes collisions among the orbiting debris. Patterns in the collisions and the resulting dust appear to account for many observed […]

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Hubble Reveals the Mysterious Early Formative Years of Quasars

June 19, 2015

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The Mysterious Early Formative Years of Quasars

Using the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers uncover the mysterious early formative years of quasars and unveil chaotic collisions of galaxies that fuel quasars by feeding supermassive central black holes with gas. “The Hubble observations are definitely telling us that the peak of quasar activity in the early universe is driven by galaxies colliding and then […]

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Kepler-138b: First Exoplanet Smaller Than Earth to Have Its Mass and Size Measured

June 18, 2015

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 (Click for full image) The artistic concept shows the planetary system harboring Kepler-138b, the first exoplanet smaller than Earth with both a mass and size measurement. The sizes of the planets relative to the star have been exaggerated.

A team of astronomers have measured the mass and size of the smallest exoplanet yet, a Mars-sized planet named Kepler-138b orbiting a red dwarf star about 200 light years from Earth. Determining the size of an Earth-size exoplanet by the amount of starlight it blocks hundreds of light-years away once was the realm of science […]

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VLT Discovers the Brightest Distant Galaxy to Date and Signs of Population III Stars

June 17, 2015

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VLT Discovers the Brightest Distant Galaxy to Date

Using ESO’s Very Large Telescope with help from the W. M. Keck Observatory, the Subaru Telescope and the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, a team of astronomers has discovered the brightest galaxy to date in the early Universe and discovered strong evidence that examples of the first generation of stars lurk within it. The newly found […]

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New Pluto Images from New Horizons

June 12, 2015

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New Images from New Horizons

As NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft speeds closer to the Pluto system new images of Pluto are emerging, giving a better view of Pluto’s surface features. A series of new images obtained by the spacecraft’s telescopic Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) during May 29-June 2 show Pluto is a complex world with very bright and very […]

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Helium-Shrouded Planets May Be Common around Other Stars in Our Galaxy

June 12, 2015

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Spitzer Reveals Helium-Shrouded Planets May Be Common in Our Galaxy

Using data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, astronomers propose that helium atmospheres may be found on thousands of warm Neptune- and sub-Neptune-sized exoplanets in our galaxy. They wouldn’t float like balloons or give you the chance to talk in high, squeaky voices, but planets with helium skies may constitute an exotic planetary class in our […]

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Hubble Detects Stratosphere on Distant Planet WASP-33b

June 12, 2015

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Hubble Telescope Detects Stratosphere on Distant Planet

Using NASA’s Hubble Telescope, a team of researchers has detected a stratosphere on the planet WASP-33b. A stratosphere occurs when molecules in the atmosphere absorb ultraviolet and visible light from the star. This absorption warms the stratosphere and acts as a kind of sunscreen layer for the planet below. NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has detected […]

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VLT/SPHERE Reveal a Star Giving Birth to a Butterfly-Like Planetary Nebula

June 11, 2015

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Image of L2 Puppis and Its Surroundings

ESO’s Very Large Telescope reveals for the first time what appears to be an aging star in the early stages of forming a butterfly-like planetary nebula. These observations of the red giant star L2 Puppis, from the ZIMPOL mode of the newly installed SPHERE instrument, also clearly showed a close companion. The dying stages of […]

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Chandra Reveals Evidence of Multiple Eruptions from a Black Hole

June 10, 2015

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Supermassive Black Hole at the Center of NGC 5813 Has Erupted Multiple Times

NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory reveals that a supermassive black hole at the center of a group of galaxies has erupted multiple times over a period lasting about 50 million years. Evidence for the eruptions can be found in the cavities, or bubbles, carved out of the hot gas that envelops the galaxies and glows in […]

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ALMA Reveals Star Formation in the Distant Universe

June 9, 2015

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Sharpest View Ever of Star Formation in the Distant Universe

ALMA’s Long Baseline Campaign has revealed the sharpest image to date of star formation in the distant universe. ALMA’s Long Baseline Campaign has produced a spectacular image of a distant galaxy being gravitationally lensed. The image shows a magnified view of the galaxy’s star-forming regions, the likes of which have never been seen before at […]

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New Insights into the Evolution of Radio Galaxy 3C 270

June 5, 2015

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Radio Galaxy NGC 4261

Using new and archival radio observations, astronomers reveal that the two lobes of radio galaxy 3C 270 are respectively about twenty-nine and thirty-seven million years old and that the lobes are the result of multiple outbursts of activity from the vicinity of black hole. The longest known highly collimated structures in the universe are the […]

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Hubble Confirms Exiled Stars Exploded in Intergalactic Space

June 4, 2015

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Hubble Confirms Exiled Stars Exploded in the Dark Emptiness of Intergalactic Space

Data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has helped confirm that three supernovae exploded in the dark emptiness of intergalactic space, having been flung from their home galaxies millions or billions of years earlier. Most supernovae are found inside galaxies containing hundreds of billions of stars, one of which might explode per century per galaxy. These […]

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Hubble Reveals That Two of Pluto’s Moons Wobble Unpredictably

June 4, 2015

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Hubble Shows Pluto’s Moons Tumbling in Absolute Chaos

New research provides important constraints on the sequence of events that led to the formation of the Pluto system, revealing the resonant interactions and chaotic rotation of Pluto’s small moons. If you lived on one of Pluto’s moons, you might have a hard time determining when, or from which direction, the sun will rise each […]

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