Space

Here’s How NASA’s Solar Probe Is Going to Touch The Sun Without Melting

In just a few weeks, NASA is due to launch one of its most ambitious projects yet. The Parker Solar Probe is going to swoop in and ‘touch’ the Sun – coming in closer to the solar surface than any probe has ever done before.   Parker’s three closest orbits will bring it within 6.1 million kilometres (3.8 million miles) …


Space

For The First Time, Scientists Might Have Caught a Star Devouring a Planet

They mystery of why a young star dims every so often may have just been solved. For the first time, researchers have observed what they think may be a star hoovering up the debris after a nearby collision between two planets.   It’s not Tabby’s Star, sorry everyone. But it’s actually been puzzling astronomers for much longer – nearly a century, …


Never-Before-Seen Structures Have Been Detected in Our Sun’s Corona

Using longer exposures and sophisticated processing techniques, scientists have taken extraordinarily high-fidelity pictures of the Sun’s outer atmosphere – what we call the corona – and discovered fine details that have never been detected before.   The Sun is a complex object, and with the soon-to-be-launched Parker Solar Probe we’re on the verge of learning so much more about it. …

The Standard Cosmological Model Just Got Confirmed Thanks to an Epic Sky Survey

A four-year survey of the entire sky has just delivered results, and they are awesome: we have confirmation that the standard cosmological model, which describes the age, rate of expansion, history and contents of the Universe, is indeed accurate.   For four years, the European Southern Observatory’s Planck satellite sailed the skies, constantly scanning and collecting data so that we …

The Longest Eclipse of The 21st Century Happens Next Week, And Earth Will Colour The Moon Blood Red

Huge swaths of Earth are in for a special astronomical treat in late July: the longest total lunar eclipse in roughly 100 years. During the early morning of July 28, Earth will pass between the sun and the moon to cast a shadow on our 4.5-billion-year-old satellite.   Earth’s shadow isn’t a dull grey, though. It ranges from orange to …

Astronomers Just Announced The Discovery of 12 New Moons Around Jupiter

Astronomers looking for stuff in the outer Solar System have received a huge and unexpected surprise – the accidental discovery of 12 previously unknown moons in orbit around Jupiter.   This brings the total of known Jovian moons to 79. The newly discovered satellites increase Jupiter’s lead in the Solar System as the planet with the most moons – although …

Some of Jupiter’s Moons Are Leaving ‘Footprints’ in Its Aurorae

Since it arrived in orbit around Jupiter in July of 2016, the Juno mission has been sending back vital information about the gas giant’s atmosphere, magnetic field and weather patterns.   With every passing orbit – known as perijoves, which take place every 53 days – the probe has revealed things about Jupiter that scientists will rely on to learn …

Astronauts Explain Why Nobody’s Visited The Moon in More Than 45 Years, And The Answer’s a Little Depressing

Landing 12 people on the Moon remains one of NASA’s greatest achievements, if not the greatest. Astronauts collected rocks, took photos, performed experiments, planted some flags, and then came home. But those week-long stays during the Apollo program didn’t establish a lasting human presence on the Moon.   More than 45 years after the most recent crewed Moon landing – …

This Is The Clearest View of The Centre of The Milky Way to Date, And It Is Breathtaking

A mega new telescope has captured the clearest view to date of the centre of our Milky Way. The fiery image shows in extraordinary detail the region surrounding the supermassive black hole at the heart of the galaxy – a target 25,000 light-years away.   The telescope is called the MeerKAT radio telescope, and it’s actually made up of 64 …

Kepler Telescope Has Entered Hibernation Mode to Download Data Before Its Final Mission

The Kepler space telescope has had a relatively brief but distinguished career of service with NASA. Having launched in 2009, the space telescope has spent the past nine years observing distant stars for signs of planetary transits (i.e. the Transit Method).   In that time, it has been responsible for the detection of 2,650 confirmed exoplanets, which constitutes the majority …

An “Asteroid” Discovered Last Year Just Turned Out to Be Something Way Cooler

An asteroid discovered orbiting the Sun in December last year has revealed a fun surprise: it’s not one asteroid, but two, locked in their own binary orbit around a mutual centre of gravity.   The object is called 2017 YE5 (as in “YE5 a surprise second asteroid, hooray!”)*, and when it was first detected on 21 December 2017, it was …

NASA May Have Accidentally Obliterated Organic Molecules on Mars in The ’70s

When NASA confirmed the Curiosity rover had found traces of complex organic compounds on Mars recently, it wasn’t just a promising sign that the building blocks of life might exist on the Red Planet.   Curiosity’s ongoing discoveries have also turned up a crucial piece of chemical evidence, shedding light on a strange scientific mystery that has divided astronomers for …

We Finally Know Where High-Energy “Ghost Particles” Are Coming From

Finally, scientists have found the source for a high-energy cosmic neutrino coming from outside our galaxy. The so-called mysterious “ghost particle”, detected on 22 September 2017, travelled 4 billion light-years to reach us, originating from an extremely energetic object called a blazar.   It’s an amazing discovery, one that not only confirms blazars as a source of high-energy neutrinos, but …

A Supermoon Solar Eclipse Is Striking on Friday 13th, But Only a Lucky Few Will See It

We Earthlings are about to get a pretty cool celestial moment. A supermoon delivering a partial solar eclipse, falling on Friday the 13th – and all that for the first time since 1974.   The kicker? If you want to see it, you’re going to have to be in the very southern tip of Australia, New Zealand, the southern Pacific …

There Are Tantalising Hints of Life-Supporting Features on This Nearby Exoplanet

Last year, scientists announced the discovery of an exoplanet just 11 light-years (3.37 parsecs) from Earth. Not just any exoplanet – a rocky one, that looks like it might just be habitable. Now another team has taken a closer look, and found evidence that bolsters that supposition.   The planet is Ross 128 b, orbiting a star called Ross 128. …

Eerie Space Sounds Are Coming From a Strange Bond Between Enceladus And Saturn

Data recorded during Cassini’s final months is still giving us gold. New research from the probe’s Grand Finale mission has uncovered a previously unknown interaction between Saturn and its moon Enceladus – plasma waves, travelling between the two.   When Cassini drew ever closer to Saturn before plunging to its demise amongst the planet’s storms, it took advantage of its …

BREAKING: We Just Found The Brightest Object in The Early Universe

Astronomers have found the brightest object ever discovered in the early Universe, 13 billion light-years away – a quasar from a time when our Universe was just seven percent of its current age.   A quasar is a galaxy that orbits a supermassive black hole actively feeding on material. The light and radio emissions we see are caused by material around …

NASA Is Working on Drones That Could Survive Venus’ Hellish Atmosphere

In the coming decades, NASA and other space agencies hope to mount some ambitious missions to other planets in our Solar System. In addition to studying Mars and the outer Solar System in greater detail, NASA intends to send a mission to Venus to learn more about the planet’s past. This will include studying Venus’ upper atmosphere to determine if …

A Huge Number of Asteroids Could Be Traced Back to Five Destroyed Worlds

In the beginning, the solar system was little more than a cloud of dust and gas. Then cold temperatures caused the center of the cloud to collapse, forming the Sun. The newborn star lit up with nuclear fusion, sending light and heat out into the spinning circumstellar disk. Soon that material coalesced into gas planets, ice giants and rocky worlds, …

NASA Needs to Upgrade Its ‘Planetary Protection’ to Protect Us From Mars Contamination, Experts Say

Solar System exploration isn’t what it used to be. In the old days, various government agencies did all the space exploring. The 12 people who walked on the moon relied on government-run transportation.   Now we’re in the era of New Space, and entrepreneurs want to race ahead to the moon and Mars on private spacecraft. Elon Musk wants to …

Our Milky Way Had a Cosmic Cataclysm With a ‘Sausage Galaxy’ Billions of Years Ago

It turns out that our galaxy looks the way it does today thanks to a run-in with something called the ‘Gaia Sausage’. As greasy as space is, we’re not talking cosmic processed foods here. Rather, astronomers have found signs that a small galaxy smashed into the Milky Way billions of years ago, leaving behind a mess of stars with some …

A Rogue Mystery Planet Smacked Into Uranus And Changed It Forever, Study Finds

All the planets in the Solar System are more or less oriented the same as the Sun, with North and South pointed in the same direction. Not Uranus though. The blue planet’s north-south axis is tilted 98 degrees from the Sun’s orbital plane – it’s practically orbiting lying down.   It’s so weird that there’s no way it could have …

Astronomers Caught The First-Ever Direct Picture of a Planet Being Born

For the very first time, astronomers have captured an image of a baby planet as it carves a path through the disc of dust that surrounds its star, an orange dwarf 113.4 parsecs (370 light-years) away from Earth.   The star is called PDS 70, and astronomers have long suspected the existence of the planet in orbit around it. They …

This Japanese Start-Up’s Rocket Launch Went Terribly Wrong Within Seconds

Although rocket launches can look effortless and even glamorous, launching things into space is a risky business. And occasionally, it all can go very, very wrong. A Japanese start-up company learnt this the hard way on June 30, when its rocket MOMO-2 spectacularly crashed back to Earth after spending only a few moments off the launch pad.   Luckily for everyone …

We Have More Evidence That Two Earth-Like Exoplanets Have Stable Climates And Seasons Just Like Us

Two exoplanets thought to be similar to Earth apparently are, at least when it comes to climate, researc†Kepler-186f is the first identified Earth-sized planet outside the solar system orbiting a star in the habitable zone. This means it’s the proper distance from its host star for liquid water to pool on the surface.   The study, which appears in the Astronomical …

There Are Many Ways The World Could End, But Scientists Think These Are The Most Likely

Our atmosphere, proximity to the Sun, and countless other beautiful coincidences not only permit living things to survive and evolve but also thrive.  And yet, here we are, sitting at desks and in coffee shops and walking down the street like it isn’t some kind of extraordinary miracle.   But all good things must come to an end. One day Earth will …

20 Mice Were Just Launched Into Space While Their Identical Twins Stay on Earth

Astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) are getting ready to make room for 20 new rodent roommates. On Friday morning, a SpaceX Dragon spaceship blasted off from Florida carrying the mice. The rodent crew is expected to arrive at the ISS on Monday.   Their record-breaking journey – this is the longest mice will be off the planet – is part of a …

The Universe Is Really Greasy, And We Had No Idea

If we’re going to head out into interstellar space one day, we might want to go equipped with some heavy-duty degreaser. New research has found that the vast intervals of space aren’t always filled with dry dust, but often contain a mist of greasy molecules.   And there’s a lot of space grease out there. The Milky Way galaxy alone …

That ‘Interstellar Asteroid’ ‘Oumuamua Isn’t Actually What We Thought It Was

The first known interstellar visitor to our Solar System, ‘Oumuamua, which buzzed past the Sun last September, has proven evasive to define. First it was a comet. Then it was an asteroid. Then it was maybe both.   Now a new team of researchers led by the European Space Agency has delivered their verdict: ‘Oumuamua, according to their analysis, is …

Complex Organic Molecules Discovered on Enceladus For The First Time

The plumes of salty water shooting out of Saturn’s ocean moon Enceladus have just ponied up one of the most significant ingredients for habitability: large organic molecules rich in carbon.   It’s a discovery that suggests a thin, organic rich film atop the oceanic water table – very similar to the sea surface microlayer here on Earth, which is extraordinarily …

A New Paper on Aliens Has Elon Musk Wanting to Leave The Planet Again

Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, has long proselytized for the cause of interplanetary colonization. If Earth gets whacked by a giant space rock, a cataclysmic solar storm cripples human electronics, or we cleanse ourselves from the planet in nuclear fire (accidentally or otherwise), it could help to have a backup civilisation on a world like Mars.   To that …

We Finally Know Where The Last of Our Universe’s Missing Baryonic Matter Has Been Hiding

Ordinary matter may only make up 5 percent of the mass of the Universe, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we know where it all is. In fact, for 20 years, astronomers have been trying to figure out why there isn’t as much as there should be.   Now an international team has put their heads together to solve the missing …

Astronomers Are Freaking Out Over a New Mysterious Space Object Nicknamed “The Cow”

A mysterious cataclysm in a neighboring galaxy was spotted in the sky above Hawaii last week, sending astronomers around the world scrambling to understand the source of the staggeringly brilliant flash.   “I’ve never seen anything like this before in the local universe,” said Stephen Smartt, an astrophysicist at Queen’s University Belfast and a lead scientist for the Hawaii-based ATLAS …

An Asteroid Exploded Over Russia This Week And We Didn’t See It Coming… Again

Several Russian cities had a fantastic light show last Thursday, as a bright meteor burst into a fireball over the landscape. And once again, no one saw it coming until it exploded.   NASA’s fireball records show that the meteor exploded with 2.8 kilotons of force on June 21 at 01:16 UTC over a number of Russian cities including Lipetsk, …

We’re About to Experience The Longest Lunar Eclipse in This Century

July is shaping up to be an excellent month for astronomy fans. Overnight on July 27 and 28, skywatchers in the Eastern Hemisphere will be treated to the longest lunar eclipse set to occur in the 21st century, EarthSky reports.   Astronomers expect the total eclipse to last for a full 1 hour and 43 minutes, with the partial eclipse …

Mars’ Dust Storm Is So Intense It’s Now Encircling The Entire Planet

NASA’s 15-year-old Opportunity rover has had a rough couple of weeks on Mars. Back on May 30, a pretty big dust storm was spotted on the Martian surface, and Opportunity was right in its path. Since then, it’s only gotten bigger.   On June 12, it had reached 35 million square kilometres (14 million square miles), basically covering a quarter …

For The First Time Ever, Astronomers Have Observed a Black Hole Ejecting Matter Twice

Black holes don’t just sit there munching away constantly on the space around them. Eventually they run out of nearby matter and go quiet, lying in wait until a stray bit of gas passes by.   Then a black hole devours again, belching out a giant jet of particles. And earlier this year scientists announced they’d captured one doing so …

Mars Is About to Go Into ‘Retrograde’ But We Promise It Won’t Ruin Your Life

Those who enjoy sky gazing are most likely aware that Mars will soon come the closest to Earth that it’s been in 15 years. But that’s not all – as of June 28 the planet will go into ‘retrograde’ and appear to zig zag across our sky. Here’s what that means.   Throughout the year, the Red Planet has been getting …

Here’s What NASA Plans to Do to Keep Us Safe From Asteroids

We don’t actually have a lot to be afraid of when it comes to asteroids. Sure, they might come pretty close from time to time, but they tend to buzz harmlessly by – after all, Earth is a pretty tiny target in the vastness of space.   That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be prepared, though – and NASA, along with …

Future Aliens Will Have to Hunt Foreign Stars in Their Struggle For Survival

During the 1930s, astronomers came to realize that the Universe is in a state of expansion. By the 1990s, they realized that the rate at which it is expansion is accelerating, giving rise to the theory of “Dark Energy”.   Because of this, it is estimated that in the next 100 billion years, all stars within the Local Group – …

General Relativity Was Just Tested on Galactic Scales, Proving Einstein Right Again

The curvature of empty space caused by an entire galaxy has now been pinned down with unprecedented precision, demonstrating Einstein’s theory of general relativity still rules on a super-sized scale.   Not that anybody is seriously surprised. But on the off chance the results had failed to meet expectations, they might have provided insight into some of the Universe’s biggest …

Most Stars Like Ours Are Born as Twins, So Where Is Our Sun’s Missing ‘Nemesis’?

Almost all the large vertebrates on Earth suddenly went extinct 66 million years ago – including dinosaurs, mosasaurs, plesiosaurs, and pterosaurs. A city-size asteroid or comet is thought to be responsible for that mass extinction. The impact, called the Chicxulub event, triggered global cooling and volcanic eruptions that transformed Earth.   In the 1980s, Richard Muller, a physicist at the …

The Latest Photo of Earth From This Chinese Satellite Will Make You Feel Absolutely Tiny

As a Chinese microsatellite called Longjiang-2 slipped into orbit around the moon last month, the spacecraft looked back at Earth and snapped its first test photos. One of those images shows our blue-marble planet hanging in the void of space beyond the Moon.   The images were taken on May 28 using an on-board camera funded by a Saudi Arabian …

A Dust Storm Is Engulfing Mars, And NASA Images Show The Situation Is Bleak

Mars is not a friendly place to be right now, especially if you’re an aging solar-powered rover. NASA says a global dust storm is forming. The storm is now about 10 billion acres in size, which is enough to cover North America and Russia, or more than one-quarter of Mars. Some regions of the Martian surface have become so obscured …

NASA Is About to Deliver Major News on That Dust Storm Raging on Mars

Mars is currently being blasted with a dust storm the likes of which we’ve rarely seen. And at 1:30 pm EDT (5:30 pm UTC) this Wednesday, NASA will let us know just how this weather event will affect their ongoing operations.   A week ago the storm was 18 million square kilometres (7 million square miles) in size. Since then …

A Woman Is Suing NASA Over Some Moon Dust Neil Armstrong Once Gave Her

It was a Saturday, and Laura Murray was a 10-year-old girl hanging out with her nanny outside her family’s Cincinnati townhouse. Her mother, giddy with excitement, handed the little girl a small glass vial filled with light-gray dust.   It was from the Moon, her mother told her. Along with it was a handwritten note: “To Laura Ann Murray – …

Astronomers Just Cracked The Cosmic Mystery of Anomalous Microwave Glow in Our Galaxy

The source of a mysterious microwave glow detected across our galaxy eluded astronomers for decades. But now a crack team has finally pinpointed the source: nanoscopic particles of crystalline carbon, otherwise known as diamond dust.   There are several environments across the Milky Way that produce a faint glow known as anomalous microwave emission (AME). Scientists have known for a …

Right Now, NASA’s Opportunity Is Battling a Potentially Deadly Martian Dust Storm

NASA has suspended science operations on its brave little Mars rover, Opportunity, as a huge dust storm rages over its location in the planet’s Perseverance Valley. First detected by NASA on June 1, the storm has worsened over the weekend, the intense dust darkening the sky over Mars and leaving Opportunity in the dark.   And this is a problem …