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Jun 09, 2020. 20 comments

Scientists Call for Academic Shutdown in Support of Black Lives

Scientists Call for Academic Shutdown in Support of Black Lives

White supremacy is baked into science and academia, from racist language in textbooks to a culture that excludes Black scientists from innovating and advancing at the same pace as their colleagues. But rather than more milquetoast statements and diversity initiatives, researchers want action. Organizers are asking the scientific community to participate in a work stoppage on Wednesday, June...

20 Comments

May 06, 2020. 8 comments

Experiment Shows Some Life Can Survive in Exoplanet-Like Conditions

Experiment Shows Some Life Can Survive in Exoplanet-Like Conditions

Single-celled organisms like Escherichia coli and yeast can grow and survive in an atmosphere like the kind theorized to exist on many rocky exoplanets, according to a new paper.

Scientists would love to know whether there’s life elsewhere in the universe, and part of answering that question is determining what an inhabited exoplanet would look like to our telescopes here on Earth. Do these...

8 Comments

May 02, 2020. 17 comments

Telescopes Around the World Pick Up Mysterious Radio Burst Coming From Our Own Galaxy

Telescopes Around the World Pick Up Mysterious Radio Burst Coming From Our Own Galaxy

Astronomers just spotted an extremely bright burst of radio waves emanating from within our own galaxy. The surprising observation could help us understand the mystery behind these enigmatic emissions, known as fast radio bursts.

Telescopes around the world are sharing data on electromagnetic radiation coming from the direction of a highly magnetic neutron star, called magnetar SGR 1935+2154....

17 Comments

Apr 29, 2020. 2 comments

Hubble Captures Incredible Images of Highly Anticipated Comet Breaking Up

Hubble Captures Incredible Images of Highly Anticipated Comet Breaking Up

The Hubble Space Telescope didn’t rest during its recent 30th anniversary celebration. Instead, it watched the comet C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS) fragment into at least 30 pieces.

Last December, the Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System discovered this comet, and astronomers soon realized it could put on a show the likes of which hadn’t been seen in decades. It would be the brightest comet since...

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Apr 24, 2020. 4 comments

Celebrate Hubble’s 30th Birthday by Gazing Into This Shimmering Stellar Expanse

Celebrate Hubble’s 30th Birthday by Gazing Into This Shimmering Stellar Expanse

It was on this day in 1990 that the Space Shuttle Discovery deposited the Hubble Space Telescope into low Earth orbit. To commemorate this important anniversary, NASA and the European Space Agency have released this stunning Hubble image of two nearby nebulae—vast expanses of clouds and dust in which stars are born.

Few telescopes in history are as easily recognizable as Hubble, and for very...

4 Comments

Apr 24, 2020. 4 comments

Incredible New Map of Moon Shows Its Every Nook and Cranny

Incredible New Map of Moon Shows Its Every Nook and Cranny

Hot damn, look at the freakin’ Moon!

Scientists led by the United States Geological Survey’s Corey Fortezzo have released what they call the “Unified Geologic Map of the Moon—an authoritative map of lunar geology. The map, built from six Apollo-era maps and updated with more recent satellite data, lists the names of features and includes data on topology as well as what layers of rock are...

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Apr 24, 2020. 4 comments

Astronomers Think They've Found a Whole Population of Rocks From Outside the Solar System

Astronomers Think They've Found a Whole Population of Rocks From Outside the Solar System

Astronomers think they’ve found an entire population of asteroids originating from outside our solar system, according to a new paper.

The objects at the center of this investigation aren’t new discoveries. Called the Centaurs, they’re mysterious asteroids that orbit in the neighborhood of Jupiter and beyond. These objects take highly inclined orbits relative to the plane of the rest of the...

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Apr 21, 2020. 11 comments

Vanishing Exoplanet Might Actually Be the Aftermath of a 'Supercatastrophic' Collision

Vanishing Exoplanet Might Actually Be the Aftermath of a 'Supercatastrophic' Collision

A known exoplanet has disappeared from sight, prompting speculation among astronomers that it was never a planet in the first place and is instead the shattered remnants of a celestial smash-up.

Now you see it, now you don’t.

A nearby exoplanet known as Fomalhaut b has gradually faded from view, which is obviously something planets aren’t predisposed to do. Well, unless an Imperial Death Star...

11 Comments

Apr 17, 2020. 3 comments

Astronomers See Glimmers of a Second World Circling the Nearest Star to the Sun

Astronomers See Glimmers of a Second World Circling the Nearest Star to the Sun

A team of astronomers shocked the world back in 2016 when they revealed evidence of an Earth-sized exoplanet in the habitable zone of our nearest stellar neighbor, a star called Proxima Centauri. Scientists are hunting for a second planet in this system—and maybe, maybe, they’ve found something.

A team of researchers led by Raffaelle Gratton at the INAF - Astronomical Observatory of Padua are...

3 Comments

Apr 15, 2020. 20 comments

NASA Funds Proposal to Build a Gigantic Telescope on the Far Side of the Moon

NASA Funds Proposal to Build a Gigantic Telescope on the Far Side of the Moon

It looks like the Death Star’s laser cannon, but this proposed lunar telescope—built inside a natural crater on the Moon’s far side—could be used to peer back into the earliest days of the cosmos.

Earlier this month, NASA awarded additional funding to a host of projects in its Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program, in which contributors are encouraged to pitch out-of-the-box ideas meant...

20 Comments

Apr 13, 2020. 9 comments

New Theory Explains How Interstellar Object ‘Oumuamua Got Its Freaky Shape

New Theory Explains How Interstellar Object ‘Oumuamua Got Its Freaky Shape

In the three years since ‘Oumuamua visited our solar system, scientists have struggled to explain some of its more enigmatic features, including its cigar-like shape. State-of-the-art computer models are providing some tantalizing new clues, showing how the object likely formed and how it became an interstellar interloper.

New research published today in Nature Astronomy suggests interstellar...

9 Comments

Apr 13, 2020. 2 comments

Astronomers Spot the Brightest Supernova Ever Recorded

Astronomers Spot the Brightest Supernova Ever Recorded

Back in 2016, a telescope spotted a supernova flaring so brightly that it far outshone its own galaxy. The exploded star continued emitting radiation for more than 1,000 days, unleashing more energy than any supernova previously documented. But that’s only the start of the story.

The supernova, named SN2016aps, was unlike any supernova on record, lasting for so long that postdocs became...

2 Comments

Apr 11, 2020. 6 comments

This Black Hole Is Bending Light Back Toward Itself

This Black Hole Is Bending Light Back Toward Itself

Scientists think that they’ve spotted a black hole’s gravity bending light emitted from the disk of matter around it right back toward the black hole, according to a new paper.

Black holes are extremely compact objects whose immense gravity warps space such that, beyond a point of no return called the event horizon, light can’t escape. We know that black holes can change the path that light...

6 Comments

Apr 10, 2020. 11 comments

The Universe Might Be Expanding Like a Lumpy Balloon

The Universe Might Be Expanding Like a Lumpy Balloon

Is the universe’s expansion the same everywhere? New research suggests it’s not—which could have huge implications for our understanding of the cosmos.

Scientists led by Konstantinos Migkas at the University of Bonn in Germany analyzed data on x-rays released by hundreds of clusters of galaxies, revealing that the universe seems to be expanding differently in different parts of the sky. These...

11 Comments

Apr 04, 2020. 6 comments

Interstellar Comet Borisov Just Lost a Chunk

Interstellar Comet Borisov Just Lost a Chunk

Recent images of the second interstellar comet known to have visited the solar system appear to reveal a fragment or fragments falling off of its core.

Comet 2I/Borisov arrived with much fanfare late last summer when scientists realized that had a hyperbolic orbit—implying that it was a visitor from outside the solar system. But unlike the first known visitor, Borsiov has allowed for closer...

6 Comments

Mar 31, 2020. 9 comments

How Neon Can Make a Star Destroy Itself

How Neon Can Make a Star Destroy Itself

Some stars have the element neon to thank for their ultimate, explosive demise, according to astrophysical research.

Astronomers love studying the life cycles of stars, including which stars die in which ways. Less-massive stars, like our Sun, expand and shed their layers as they transition into white dwarfs, while much bigger stars explode in violent supernovae, and their cores turn into...

9 Comments

Mar 27, 2020.

The Fate of a Dark Matter Theory Hinges on These Unidentified X-Rays

The Fate of a Dark Matter Theory Hinges on These Unidentified X-Rays

Despite decades of searching, no one has yet cracked the mystery of dark matter. One hypothesis to explain it relies on strange x-rays emanating from distant galaxies and galaxy clusters, but a new paper appears to rule out dark matter as producing these mysterious x-rays.

The way distant objects in the universe interact implies that there’s a lot more mass than scientists can actually...

Mar 14, 2020. 10 comments

A Powerful New Telescope Is About to Get Screwed by Elon Musk’s Starlink Constellation, Research Suggests

A Powerful New Telescope Is About to Get Screwed by Elon Musk’s Starlink Constellation, Research Suggests

As astronomers eagerly await the opening of the Vera C. Rubin Observatory in Chile, anxious operators have run tests to see how well the system might work when low Earth orbit is cluttered with satellite megaconstellations, similar to the one being built by SpaceX. Unsurprisingly, the results were not good.

New research from the Rubin Observatory Project Science Team (PST) shows that a...

10 Comments

Mar 11, 2020. 7 comments

It Could Rain Iron on This Hellish Exoplanet

It Could Rain Iron on This Hellish Exoplanet

Don’t forget to bring your sturdiest umbrella when you travel to the extra-hot planet WASP-76b, where it may literally rain molten iron.

Hot Jupiters represent some of the galaxy’s most hellish worlds, giving scientists clues into the diverse planetary climates and atmospheric chemistry that can come about in extreme conditions. A new analysis of the exoplanet WASP-76b demonstrates vastly...

7 Comments

Mar 11, 2020. 8 comments

A Typical Neutron Star Is Only 13.6 Miles Wide, According to New Ultra-Precise Measurement

A Typical Neutron Star Is Only 13.6 Miles Wide, According to New Ultra-Precise Measurement

A typical neutron star measures 22 kilometers (13.6 miles) wide, according to new research. It’s the most accurate measurement yet of these highly compact, super-dense objects.

If black holes are the most extreme phenomena in the universe, then neutron stars have to be a close second (unless quark stars exist, which has yet to be confirmed). Formed in the wake of a supernova explosion (when a...

8 Comments

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