Articles about astronomy

Feel guilty for scoffing Easter chocolate? Good news: Scientists have made NEGATIVE mass

A team of physicists from around the world have created a fluid they claim has negative mass. This strange matter has peculiar properties: when it is pushed, it moves in the opposite direction. In other words, pushing the fluid away only brings it closer. Newton's second law states that the acceleration of an object is …
Katyanna Quach, 18 Apr 2017
Ninth planet from the Sun

How hard will it be to measure Planet Nine?

Planet 9 will be easier to find if we know what we're looking for, so a French astronomer has set himself the task of trying to wrap the enigma in some parameters. When the idea of a ninth planet (using the guidelines that excluded Pluto from planet status) was mooted last year, the CalTech group that ran the orbital maths …
NASA's exploding star illustration

Baby supernova spotted, just three hours old and a real cutie

In the kind of observational serendipity that astro-boffins live for: spotting the explosion of a supernova mere hours after the explosion's light started reaching Earth. The catch, made in 2013 by the venerable Samuel Oschin 48-inch telescope as part of the Palomar Transient Factory Survey, is the “youngest” supernova …

Feel like a spot of planet-hunting? Here's 1,600 suns worth of data

Here's a treat for amateur exoplanet-hunters and experts alike: 20 years' worth of observations from the WM Keck Observatory in Hawaii, complete with application and tutorial. The data release, led by the Carnegie Institution for Science, includes 61,000 measurements of more than 1,600 nearby stars. According to participant …
A ginger tabby cat is walked on a leash over cobblestones. Photo by Shutterstock

You know what, maybe Tabby's star ate a planet, ponder space eggheads

Tabby's star – formally KIC 8462852 – has attracted a new and possibly-plausible explanation for its excess of twinkle: the remnants of a planet destroyed in a collision. That hypothesis comes from Brian Metzger and Nicholas Stone of Columbia University's Astrophysics Laboratory, and Ken Shen of UC Berkeley's Department of …

You know how cop cars pile into each other in old comedy movies? That's how the Moon was built, say boffins

The birth of the Earth’s Moon didn’t begin with a single huge collision – rather it grew as lots of baby moons from smaller impacts fused together, according to a new theory published in Nature Geoscience. Scientists believe that a proto-Earth and a Mars-sized body smashed together in the earlier days of the Solar System to …
Katyanna Quach, 10 Jan 2017
NASA Stereo Science Center asteroid image

Asteroid nearly gave Earth a new feature, two days after its discovery

On Saturday, the Catalina Sky Survey spotted a near-Earth asteroid of respectable heft – and today, it passed between us and the Moon. 2017 AG13 (the Minor Planet Center, MPC, entry is here) is about the size of a 10-storey building. Its velocity to Earth is 11 kilometres per second. It passed at 0.53 Lunar distance, or 203, …
Gemini's composite image of FRB 121102's host galaxy

Puny galaxy packs a big punch: A gazillion joules' worth of radio bursts

Sorry to say this, but fast radio bursts still aren't alien communications. There is a surprise, however, in the latest science about them – the only repeating burst yet known comes from a "puny" galaxy with no obvious sources for such a cataclysmic cosmic event. We don't know quite what they are, but the galactic mysteries …
Black hole - spaghetti visualisation. Artist's impression.  NASA/JPL-Caltech, CC BY-SA

NASA eyes up supermassive black holes, neutron stars

NASA will embark on a new mission to explore supermassive black holes, neutron stars, and pulsars hidden within the depths of space. The Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) mission was chosen among 14 other proposals during the rigorous selection process for NASA's Astrophysics Explorer programmes. It's expected to …
Hubble telescope megamaser

Major maser microwaves Hubble

The name's boring but the science isn't: an entire galaxy spied by the Hubble Space Telescope is acting as a microwave-emitting laser, or maser. Think of the process going on here: in a laser, molecules in a crystal are stimulated to add energy to electrons, and when they shed that energy, they emit coherent light (or, at …
NASA's exploding star illustration

Boffins find Galaxy making killer radiation, rule out Samsung phone as source

It's not just radio any more: Penn State University boffins have turned up a “fast gamma ray burst” that correlates with a source of a fast radio burst (FRB). The still-mysterious FRBs have excited astro-boffins ever since 2013. In 2015, Australian astronomer Emily Petroff pulled off the first real-time observation of an FRB …
Yuri Milner and Stephen Hawking

SETI scan saves 'scope used for first Moon landing comms

Australia's Parkes radio-telescope has found one of the white knights it needed, in the form of the search-for-intelligent-life Breakthrough Listen project. Ever since the country's premier government research agency, the Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) was mugged by budget cuts, there's been …
Saturn

Supercomputers crack Saturn's ice-cold ring

Supercomputing boffins may have solved the mystery of how it came to be that Saturn's rings are so bright in the night sky. The planet's rings are largely made of ice, making them so visible that Galileo first spotted them using a primitive telescope in the early 1600s. Meanwhile, similar ring systems around Uranus and Neptune …
Iain Thomson, 2 Nov 2016

Gravitational lensing event could provide ideal conditions for planet hunting

A rare gravitational lensing event will give researchers a precious chance at hunting new planets in Alpha Centauri in 2028, astronomers have predicted. Research published [PDF] in Astronomy & Astrophysics shows that data taken from the European Southern Observatory’s telescopes has led researchers to predict a gravitational …
Katyanna Quach, 24 Oct 2016
Chandra's wandering black hole

Stripped of its galaxy, this black hole is wandering naked in the cosmos

Boffins analysing old Chandra x-ray telescope data have spotted a rarity indeed: an X-ray source that seems to be a black hole, but without a galaxy to surround it. At an estimated 100,000 times the mass of the sun, the black hole in question – at the edge of lenticular galaxy SDSS J141711.07+522540.8, about 4.5 billion light …
Giant Magellan Telescope

Top interview: Dr Patrick McCarthy – boss of the world's future largest optical telescope

Pics + vids Construction has now started on the Giant Magellan Telescope – which will be the world's largest optical viewing device mankind has ever built – using record-breaking mirrors and advanced electronics. Youtube Video The telescope, located high in the Chilean mountains, will be able to show us images with up to ten times the …
Iain Thomson, 30 Sep 2016
Pluto, visible and X-ray

Pluto's emitting X-rays, and NASA doesn't quite know how

The Chandra space telescope has spotted X-rays emanating from Pluto. What? That's “cold, dead, former planet Pluto with no magnetic field”, to most of us: orbiting between 4.4 billion km and 7.4 billion km from the sun out in the Kuiper belt, with no way to generate heat. That Pluto. Since we don't suppose the former-planet …
The "sand telescope"

Radio astronomy pioneer dies at 92

One of the pioneers of Australian radio astronomy, Owen Bruce Slee, has died in Australia aged 92. Once part of a team whose work brought conflict with famous British astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle, Slee had just been honoured by the International Astronomical Union, which named Minor Planet 9391 Slee after him. In the 1950s, …

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