Space

All Scientific Research Funded by NASA Is Available For Free

There’s something very special about all the awesome research funded by NASA – it’s accessible, for free, to everyone. It was a particularly special moment when NASA announced this shift to open access back in 2016. Not only would all published research funded by the space agency be available at no cost, the agency also launched a public web portal …


Space

Astronomers Just Zoomed Stunningly Close to The Event Horizon of Our Galaxy’s Black Hole

Telescopes around the world have joined forces to try to provide us with our first photograph of a black hole. That’s still a few months off, at least, but all that staring at a black hole is already starting to produce results.   In 2013, the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) radio telescope in Chile joined the global telescope collective that …


This Brilliant Interactive From NASA Lets You Virtually Explore Planets Far, Far Away

Ever dreamt of stepping onto a faraway planet? Well, NASA has you covered with this incredible virtual planet simulator. The Exoplanet Travel Bureau drops you into vastly different star systems to explore distant worlds.   You can enjoy Trappist-1e’s blood red sky, a planet we now know has a large iron core. (NASA/Exoplanet Travel Bureau) The Trappist system has seven …

Pluto May Not Be a Planet, But It Could Be Made Out of Millions of Comets

Pluto may not be categorised as a planet any more, but it still holds plenty of fascination. For instance, how did the dwarf planet form, and why is it so different from the planets? By examining its chemical composition, researchers have come up with a new idea: Pluto is made of comets.   According to the currently accepted model, planets …

We’ve Mapped a Pulsar in Unprecedented Detail, Finding Clues to a Cosmic Mystery

Picture a flea on Pluto’s surface as seen through a telescope. This gives you some idea of the feat pulled off by astronomers, who managed to distinguish between spots of light on a 20-kilometre (about 12.5 mile) wide pulsar 6,500 light years away.   The result is mind-blowing on its own, but the physical processes behind the observation could help …

You Could Get Credit For a Supernova Discovery by Participating in This Free Online Project

Calling all citizen scientists! A project looking for those dying, exploding stars called supernovae out in deep space is also searching for volunteers to help in the work, and you can get real science credit for it along the way – even if you’ve never done a second of star-gazing before.   Astronomers from the Australian National University (ANU) want eager …

China Is About to Put The First-Ever Lander on The Dark Side of The Moon

Nobody has ever put a lander on the far side of the Moon before, but China is well on its way to being the first. Over the weekend, the country launched a craft called Queqiao – a satellite that will orbit the Moon to relay messages from the yet-to-be-launched lander, Chang’e-4.   the Moon is tidally locked with Earth – …

Supernovae Could Be to Blame For Mass Extinctions on Earth, Study Shows

Nothing lasts forever. If you look for it, mounting evidence of an impending mass extinction event is all around us, and the forces behind these epic die-offs could be greater than we ever knew.   New research into supernovae millions of years ago suggests dying stars exploding in sufficient proximity to Earth could help bring about changes in our atmosphere …

An Interstellar Object Has Been Hiding in Our Solar System This Whole Time

Interstellar asteroid ‘Oumuamua raised an interesting possibility: if objects could enter our Solar System from somewhere out beyond its reaches, maybe it’s happened before. New research has found that that is indeed the case – and that interstellar object has been living here a long time.   It’s the first known permanent fixture of our Solar System that wasn’t formed …

NASA Astronaut Forgets GoPro SD Card on Spacewalk, Internet Has a Field Day

Ever been foiled by technology while trying to take pictures of something awesome? Don’t fret, it can literally happen to the most amazing of humans. On last week’s spacewalk outside the International Space Station (ISS), flight engineer Drew Feustel found himself stumped by a GoPro camera complaining about the lack of a memory card. Whelp.   Feustel and his crewmate …

There’s a Strange New Theory For Those Mysterious Fast Radio Bursts in Space

Fast Radio Bursts (FBRs) have fascinated astronomers ever since the first one was detected in 2007. This event was named the “Lorimer Burst” after it discoverer, Duncan Lorimer from West Virginia University.   In radio astronomy, this phenomenon refers to transient radio pulses coming from distant cosmological sources, which typically last a few milliseconds on average. Over two dozen events …

There’s Exciting New Evidence a Real Planet Nine Is Out There

Is there a ninth planet out there in our solar system, lurking out of sight of astronomers, far past the orbit of Pluto (the ex-ninth planet)? According to new observations of a strangely behaving rock in deep space, the answer just might be yes.   The new object we can see and observe is called 2015 BP519, and looks like …

Space lasers are shooting out of this gorgeous nebula, which means it’s hiding something

There’s a mystery in the dusty heart of the Ant Nebula. Its two symmetrical lobes are the result of a star shedding its material as it dies – and that’s not usually a shape seen in this sort of event.   One hypothesis is that the dense gas at the core of the nebula – also known as Menzel 3 …

Record-breaking evidence just changed what we know about star birth after the Big Bang

Astronomers using some of the most powerful telescopes on Earth have found evidence that stars were forming incredibly early on in the life of the Universe – just 250 million years after the Big Bang, well before the proverbial dust had settled.   That’s when the Universe was just 2 percent of its current age – and a finding that …

An insane paper tests the limits of science by claiming octopuses came from space

A summary of decades of research on a rather ‘out-there’ idea involving viruses from space has recently been published, and it’s raising questions on just how scientific we can be when it comes to speculating on the history of life on Earth.   It’s easy to throw around words like crackpot, rogue, and maverick in describing the scientific fringe, but …

A surprise asteroid the size of the Statue of Liberty is hurtling past Earth right now

An asteroid the size of the Statue of Liberty is set to narrowly miss Earth on Tuesday evening. The asteroid, dubbed 2010 WC9, has come closer to our planet than any asteroid of its size has in the last 100 years. But don’t worry: at its closest, it will only reach 126,419 miles (203,000 km) away from Earth around 22:05 …

Astronomers have found a monstrous black hole that’s eating stars shockingly fast

Astronomers just spotted what they think is the fastest-growing black hole ever discovered in the Universe, and it’s got a voracious appetite, sucking in the equivalent of the mass of our Sun every two days.   To find this “monster” of a black hole, the researchers had to peer some 12 billion light-years across space – which also means they’re …

NASA just announced new evidence for water plumes on Europa, found in 20-year-old data

Europa, a moon of Jupiter thought to harbor a warm, saltwater ocean sloshing beneath a thick, icy crust, has long been considered one of the best spots in the Solar System to look for alien beings.   Now, citing data collected by NASA’s Galileo probe more than two decades ago, scientists report that giant jets of water are spouting more …

The Multiverse could be teeming with life but is also problematic, says new study

According to the current dominant theory, if there are other universes out there, they’re not likely to have life. But now an international team of researchers has demonstrated that the Multiverse is more hospitable than we thought.   The Multiverse hypothesis – wherein our observable Universe is just one of many universes – is a proposed explanation for the not-large-enough amount …

Elon Musk says SpaceX will launch more rockets than any nation on Earth this year

SpaceX successfully launched Bangladesh’s first-ever geostationary communications satellite, called Bangabandhu-1, into space on Friday. But the real star of the mission was a newly designed rocket called Falcon 9 Block 5. Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, said the launcher is built to be the most powerful, reusable, and affordable version of his company’s workhorse orbital rocket.   What’s more, …

NASA has unveiled the first-ever helicopter to fly above another planet

NASA announced this afternoon that it plans to launch a tiny, four-pound, autonomous helicopter along with its 2020 rover mission. And if you think this sounds relatively cool, well: you’re right.   The experimental, softball-sized drone would be the first airborne vehicle to fly around within Mars’s atmosphere other than the landers that have delivered other, ground-based rovers. (At least …

Scientists have discovered a “singing space cloud” that could explain how stars are born

We know that the birthplaces of stars are large molecular clouds of gas and dust found in space. But what exactly determines the number and kind of stars and planets that are formed in these clouds? How was our Solar System nursed and how did it emerge from such a cloud billions of year ago?   These are mysteries that …

Astronomers have found a record-breaking pair of stars orbiting with a dizzying speed

Astronomers have discovered a record-breaking star system. It’s called IGR J17062-6143, and it’s a very compact binary, where one of the stars is a rapidly spinning, superdense neutron star called an X-ray pulsar.   The two stars take just 38 minutes to orbit each other. That’s the fastest orbital period of any X-ray pulsar binary ever observed. IGR J17062-6143 (or …

This mesmerising new video shows the churning motion of Jupiter’s clouds

Juno has been sending home some incredible postcards of Jupiter, with one slightly frustrating caveat: because of the data transfer limitations, they are, by necessity, still pictures. Now an amateur scientist has used those photographs to extrapolate an animation of Jupiter’s clouds, and the results are just jaw-dropping.   Gerald Eichstädt is a member of the Planetary Society who works as a …

A rogue star hurtling towards the Solar System is going to arrive sooner than we realised

According to new calculations, we may have a little less time to prepare for a star on course to kiss the edges of our Solar System. Yep. Dwarf star Gliese 710, which we’ve known about for some time, could now arrive in 1.29 million years, instead of the previously calculated 1.36 million years.   Gliese 710 is what is classified …

Astronomers have discovered how Earth’s magnetic field survives intense solar storms

NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) space weather mission has helped solve one of astrophysics’ biggest questions – when a solar storm strikes our planet, where does its intense rain of energy go?   The discovery explains the behaviour of a chaotic zone at the edge of Earth’s protective magnetic shell when it is showered with charged particles. In turn, the discovery …

Astronomers have accidentally taken a direct photo of a possible baby exoplanet

Sometimes the most amazing discoveries can happen just by chance. Case in point: an international team of astronomers accidentally photographed what they think is a planet in the process of growing bigger, 600 light-years away.   The star in question is a binary called CS Cha, located in a star-forming region in the southern constellation of Chamaeleon. It’s a T …

These are the crazy challenges scientists are working on, so we can touch an alien star

Two years after the Starshot Breakthrough Initiative was launched with the aim of sending an object towards our nearest stellar neighbour, we’re still left staring at the heavens dreaming of the possibility.   A team of materials scientists has taken a more sober look at the current state of technology and listed what we need to discover before we can …

Jupiter and Venus are warping Earth’s orbit, and it’s linked to major climate events

If you ever get the feeling that we’re going around in circles, you’re right, but the cosmic holding pattern we’re stuck in is probably a little bigger than what you had in mind.   Scientists have confirmed a longstanding hypothesis that Earth’s orbit is warped by the gravitational pull of Jupiter and Venus in an epic cycle that repeats regularly …

Gigantic waves that control Earth’s weather have once again been detected roaring across the Sun

Astronomers have speculated for decades that the giant waves that meander through the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans, driving the weather, might also exist on the Sun. Now those waves have been unambiguously detected inside the Sun, and found to be very similar to those on Earth.   These Rossby waves, or planetary waves, naturally occur in rotating fluids. It is the …

These NASA scientists think Pluto IS a planet, and here’s why

Three years ago, NASA’s New Horizons, the fastest spaceship ever launched, raced past Pluto, spectacularly revealing the wonders of that newly seen world. This coming New Year’s Eve – if all goes well on board this small robot operating extremely far from home – it will treat us to images of the most distant body ever explored, provisionally named Ultima …

Scientists have figured out when and how our Sun will explode, and it’s going to be epic

What will our Sun look like after it dies? Scientists have made new predictions about what the end will look like for our Solar System, and when that will happen. And humans won’t be around to see the final act.   Previously, astronomers thought it would turn into a planetary nebula, a luminous bubble of gas and dust, until evidence …

Scientists have figured out when and how our Sun will die, and it’s going to be epic

What will our Sun look like after it dies? Scientists have made new predictions about what the end will look like for our Solar System, and when that will happen. And humans won’t be around to see the final act.   Previously, astronomers thought it would turn into a planetary nebula, a luminous bubble of gas and dust, until evidence …

Scientists just discovered one of TRAPPIST-1’s planets has an iron core

In February of 2017, a team of European astronomers announced the discovery of a seven-planet system orbiting the nearby star TRAPPIST-1. Aside from the fact that all seven planets were rocky, there was the added bonus of three of them orbiting within TRAPPIST-1’s habitable zone.   Since that time, multiple studies have been conducted to determine whether or not any …

Elon Musk’s SpaceX is using powerful rocket technology that NASA says could put lives at risk

When Elon Musk and his team at SpaceX were looking to make their Falcon 9 rocket even more powerful, they came up with a creative idea — keep the propellant at super-cold temperatures to shrink its size, allowing them to pack more of it into the tanks.   But the approach comes with a major risk, according to some safety …

NASA has tested a new kind of nuclear fission reactor, and it’s incredibly powerful

Looking to the future of crewed space exploration, it is clear to NASA and other space agencies that certain technological requirements need to be met. Not only are a new generation of launch vehicles and space capsules needed (like the SLS and Orionspacecraft), but new forms of energy production are needed to ensure that long-duration missions to the Moon, Mars, and other locations …

NASA is launching its next Mars lander mission this weekend. Watch it live

Some Californians are about to witness to a rare treat on Saturday morning: NASA’s first interplanetary rocket launch from the West Coast. If all goes according to plan, people located about 150 miles north of Los Angeles will be able to venture out before dawn to see NASA’s Mars InSight lander blast off from Vandenberg Air Force Base on an …

You can now listen to the weird ‘music’ made by our rotating galaxy

Ever wondered what the Milky Way might sound like as it rotates on its axis? According to a new “musical expression” by an astronomer, it has distinctly jazz-like tones. Mark Heyer of the University of Massachusetts Amherst developed an algorithm that expresses the movement of gases in the Milky Way’s disc as musical notes. He’s titled the resulting composition Milky …

Here’s the amazing story behind the discovery that elements are born in stars

Nearly 70 years ago, astronomer Paul Merrill was watching the sky through a telescope at Mount Wilson Observatory in Pasadena, California. As he observed the light coming from a distant star, he saw signatures of the element technetium.   This was completely unexpected. Technetium has no stable forms – it’s what physicists call an “artificial” element. As Merrill himself put …

We just tracked the spin of one of the strangest stars we know, and it’s weird

It’s one of the strangest stars in the known Universe, but new observations of the stellar oddity called Przybylski’s star reveal this unusual orb is even weirder than we realised.   Przybylski’s star (aka HD 101065) was first discovered back in the 1960s, and ever since then astronomers have been fascinated by its unique chemical makeup, which is suspected to …

Stephen Hawking’s final theory about our Universe has just been published, and it will melt your brain

Groundbreaking physicist Stephen Hawking left us one last shimmering piece of brilliance before he died: his final paper, detailing his last theory on the origin of the Universe, co-authored with Thomas Hertog from KU Leuven.   The paper, published today in the Journal of High Energy Physics, puts forward that the Universe is far less complex than current multiverse theories …

The sun shines brightly on a gorgeous ‘full’ Jupiter in May

The king of planets – the gassy Jupiter – reigns in May and stays bright and nobly serves all night. Through June, Jupiter sustains its brightest point for the year, reaching “opposition” – which is when the sun and Jupiter are opposite each other (from Earth’s perspective) at 8:39 pm (ET) May 8 on the East Coast of America, according …

This timeline shows the entire history of the Universe, and where it’s headed

If you’re the type of person who sometimes wakes up at 3am and lies in bed trying to wrap your tiny mind around the achingly vast Universe and where it’s all headed, well, we have something for you (also, same).   This incredible (and incredibly long) infographic from 2015 just keeps going and going and going. Which makes sense, because we’re …

No, this so-called “warrior woman” isn’t evidence of an alien civilisation on Mars

Another picture of a rock on Mars is being given the alien civilisation treatment. According to a video shared to YouTube, the unusual formation is the head of a statue of a warrior woman, similar to statues from ancient Egypt.   There’s only one problem: the reason it looks a bit like a head is due to a mental trick …

NASA’s only moon rover mission was just unexpectedly cancelled

Months after President Trump signed a directive ordering NASA to return astronauts to the moon, the space agency has canceled its only lunar rover currently in development. According to Clive Neal, a University of Notre Dame planetary scientist and emeritus chairman of the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group, members of the Resource Prospector mission were told to close out the project …

This megamerger of 14 galaxies could become the most massive structure in our Universe

Peering billions of light-years back to when the Universe was just 10 percent of its current age, astronomers have spotted a colossal pile-up: 14 young, starbursting galaxies merging into one of the most massive structures in the Universe.   Using some of the most powerful telescopes in operation today, an international research team discovered the extremely dense concentration of hot …

The most accurate star map ever was just released, and it’s already changing astronomy

It might be hard to find the “You Are Here” circle on this one. The European Space Agency (ESA) just released the richest and most extensive map ever made of our Milky Way galaxy and stars beyond.   The map is based on the latest data from the ESA’s Gaia mission, which was launched with the goal of creating the …

A stunning new video shows a comet’s surface as it hurtles through space

In August 2014, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft pulled up to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and studied the gritty, duck-shaped object for 2 years. Today the ESA continues to publish new images taken by the probe, and in March it released a fresh batch of data.   Many of Rosetta’s photos were taken in sequence – so Twitter user “landru79” stacked …