Video: Gaia, the billion star surveyor ESA’s Gaia space telescope revolutionizes our understanding of the Milky Way. It scans the sky to measure the position, movement, distance, and characteristics of billions of stars. Go to SourceRead More →

Milky Way’s black hole was ‘birth cry’ of radio astronomy The first image of the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy brings radio astronomy back to its celestial birthplace. The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), a worldwide collection of millimeter-wave radio telescopes, made the new, landmark image of the same region from which came the first cosmic radio waves ever detected. That detection, by Bell Telephone Laboratories engineer Karl Jansky in 1932, was the beginning of radio astronomy. Go to SourceRead More →

Astronomers spot quadruple stars that may spark supernova explosions A quadruple star system discovered in 2017 and recently observed at the University of Canterbury Mt. John Observatory could represent a new channel by which thermonuclear supernova explosions can occur in the universe, according to results published in Nature Astronomy today (13 May) by an international team of astronomers. Go to SourceRead More →

What’s the Right Depth to Search for Life on Icy Worlds? Are we alone? Is there life beyond Earth? These are the questions that plague the very essence of science, and in particular, planetary science. Unfortunately, robotic exploration of exoplanetary systems currently remains out of reach due to the literal astronomical distances to get there. For context, our nearest star, Proxima Centauri, is 4.25 light years away, or a mind-blowing 40,208,000,000,000 km (25,000,000,000,000 miles) from Earth. Finding an intelligent civilization might be out of reach for now but searching for any forms of life beyond Earth is very much possible within the confines of ourRead More →

Astronomers Finally Catch a Nova Detonating on a White Dwarf as it’s Happening On July 7, 2020, the X-ray instrument eROSITA captured an astronomical event that – until then – had only been theorized and never seen. It saw the detonation of a nova on a white dwarf star, which produced a so-called fireball explosion of X-rays. “It was to some extent a fortunate coincidence, really,” said Ole König from Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), who led the team of scientists who have published a new paper on the discovery. “These X-ray flashes last only a few hours and are almost impossible to predict, but the observationalRead More →

Image: A small sombrero for Hubble NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has allowed astronomers to view galaxies of all shapes and sizes from nearly every angle. When a galaxy is seen edge-on, the mesmerizing perspective reveals a dazzling slice of the universe. The “Little Sombrero,” also known as NGC 7814 or Caldwell 43, is one such galaxy. Go to SourceRead More →

This is it! Meet the Supermassive Black Hole at the Heart of the Milky Way On April 10th, 2019, the international consortium known as the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) announced the first-ever image of a supermassive black hole (SMBH). The image showed the bright disk surrounding the black hole at the center of the M87 galaxy (aka. Virgo A). In 2021, they followed up on this by acquiring an image of the core region of the Centaurus A galaxy and the radio jet emanating from it. Earlier this month, the European Southern Observatory (ESO) announced that the EHT would be sharing the results from itsRead More →

We’ve Now Seen Planet-Forming Disks Around Hundreds of Young Stars. What Do They Tell Us? Is our Solar System comparable to other solar systems? What do other systems look like? We know from exoplanet studies that many other systems have hot Jupiters, massive gas giants that orbit extremely close to their stars. Is that normal, and our Solar System is the outlier? One way of addressing these questions is to study the planet-forming disks around young stars to see how they evolve. But studying a large sample of these systems is the only way to get an answer. So that’s what a group of astronomersRead More →

Astronomers reveal first image of the black hole at the heart of our galaxy Today, at simultaneous press conferences around the world, including at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) headquarters in Germany, astronomers have unveiled the first image of the supermassive black hole at the centre of our own Milky Way galaxy. This result provides overwhelming evidence that the object is indeed a black hole and yields valuable clues about the workings of such giants, which are thought to reside at the centre of most galaxies. The image was produced by a global research team called the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) Collaboration, using observations fromRead More →

Our Complete Guide to This Weekend’s Total Lunar Eclipse Don’t miss one of the top astronomical events for 2022: Sunday night’s total lunar eclipse. The first eclipse season of 2022 reaches its climax this coming weekend, with a fine total lunar eclipse transpiring on Sunday night into Monday morning. All of South America and most of North America will see the eclipse in its entirety, while Alaska and western Canada will see totality underway at moonrise, and western Europe will see the reverse at moonset near dawn. The Circumstances for Sunday Night’s Eclipse Eclipses occur when the nodes where the Moon’s orbit intersect the eclipticRead More →

InSight Just Detected a Record-breaking Marsquake: Magnitude 5! This spectrogram shows the largest quake ever detected on another planet. The marsquake struck the Red Planet on May 4 , 2022 and measured magnitude 5 . Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech/ETH/Zurich. May 4th is unofficially known in sci-fi circles as Star Wars Day (“May the Fourth Be With You”) here on Earth. But, on another planet, far, far away, the date is now infamous to one of its robotic inhabitants. That’s the day the Mars InSight lander felt one of the strongest marsquakes ever to hit that world. It registered magnitude 5 and was the latest 1,313 quakes theRead More →

‘The Clocks are Telling Lies:’ A New Book from Universe Today Writer Scott Alan Johnston Scott Alan Johnston (that’s me!) joined the Universe Today team just over a year ago. Since then, I’ve written over 50 space news stories for the website – time flies when you’re having fun! But when I’m not writing articles here on Universe Today, I’m a historian of science, and I recently released a new book about the history of timekeeping. Have you ever wondered why we tell time the way we do? Well, history buffs, come along for a journey: For nearly all of human history, time was aRead More →

Martian Dust is Starting to Darken Ingenuity’s Solar Panels Like every solar-panel-powered vehicle on Mars, maintaining electrical power always becomes an issue at some point in the mission. Last week, mission controllers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory lost contact with the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter. While they were able to re-establish communications, which is done through the Perseverance rover, engineers know that keeping Ingenuity’s batteries charged is going to be increasingly difficult as the dark winter is on the way to Jezero Crater. The engineering team had to do some trouble-shooting to figure out the issue, but they reported that the communications dropout on May 3,Read More →

These are the Best Places to Search for Habitable Exomoons Our Solar System contains eight planets and more than 200 moons. The large majority of those moons have no chance of being habitable, but some of them—Europa and Enceladus, for example—are strong candidates in the search for life. Is it the same in other solar systems? Moons in our Solar System show as much variety as planets, maybe more. There are moons where a sheath of ice tens of kilometres thick hides a warm ocean. There’s a moon with stable bodies of surface liquid. There’s a moon that experiences near-constant volcanic activity. Some moons formedRead More →

Artemis 1 Probably won’t Launch Until August On March 17th, the Artemis I mission rolled out of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VLB) and was transferred to Launch Complex 39B at the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This was the first time that a fully-stacked Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion spacecraft were brought to the launchpad in preparation for a “wet dress rehearsal.” To mark the occasion, NASA released a video of the event that featured a new song by Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder (“Invincible”). Unfortunately, technical issues forced ground controllers to scrub the dress rehearsal repeatedly and return the Artemis I to theRead More →

For the first time, researchers have observed an X-ray explosion on a white dwarf When stars like our sun use up all their fuel, they shrink to form white dwarfs. Sometimes such dead stars flare back to life in a super-hot explosion and produce a fireball of X-ray radiation. A research team from several German institutes including Tübingen University, and led by Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), has now been able to observe such an explosion of X-ray light for the very first time. Go to SourceRead More →