Hidden inside meteorites, scientists have found the fossils of isotopes that once proliferated around the solar system, but have since sunk into nothingness. Here’s how we study the “bones” of extinct radioactive elements. »
Pluto and Charon have captured our hearts and imaginations. But how did these adorably strange worlds form, and what consequences could that have on what we see now? Researcher Amy Barr Mlinar chatted with us about catastrophic collisions, subsurface oceans, and Pluto’s lack of craters. »
Five billion years ago, a blazar abruptly flared, triggered an intense rain of gamma rays. Racing across the universe for millennia, they finally slammed into NASA’s Fermi satellite over several days this June, setting a new record for the most luminous high-energy object we’ve ever seen. »
Between rainbows, rings, and sharp, hard lines, it’s difficult to not clap my hands in glee while unpacking the levels of awesome crammed in this X-ray image of Circinus X-1. The beautiful bullseye light echoes hint this neutron star is farther, brighter, and more like a black hole than we thought. »
It’s easy to imagine the universe as an endless sea of stars, but that’s a biased, Earthly perspective. If we could zoom very far out, we’d see bright cosmic clusters like our Milky Way, and between them, unimaginably vast stretches of empty intergalactic space. »
What caused this unique gas disk? Artist’s impression of vast disk of gas surrounding a bright Wolf-Rayet star whose companion star is pulling gas away from it, causing some of the stellar gas to escape and form this never-before-seen disk. »
By using the Gemini Planet Imager, an international team of astronomers have captured an image of a protoplanetary disc that shares remarkable similarities with our own Kuiper Belt — though as it was at a much earlier time in our Solar System’s history.
Astronomers are calling it the “Nasty 1,” but the hefty, rapidly aging star that shines in the center of the image above sure is beautiful. It’s also damn peculiar, and it may hold clues to a stellar mystery that’s puzzled scientists for decades. »
Dwarf planets, comets, and asteroids are all the rage these days, but we shouldn’t neglect our Solar System’s outer gas planets and their moons. In this new NASA video, 70 days of Neptunian activity was compressed down to 34 seconds — and the effect is pretty damned cool. »
Stars may be spherical, but that doesn’t mean they explode in a symmetrical and uniform fashion. As a new study shows, stars dramatically writhe and contort before going supernova, blasting their cores in one direction and ejected material in another.
Late last year, astronomers using the ALMA telescope captured an unprecedented image of what appears to be a protoplanetary disc surrounding a young star. Some scientists were skeptical about the claim, but a new simulation run by Canadian astrophysicists is helping bolster its case. »
Every now and then, astronomers spy a runaway star, one that’s hurling itself across its galaxy at breakneck speeds. But stars aren’t the only things that occasionally go beserker in the cosmic void: Galaxies themselves will sometimes depart home, never to return. »
Could there be a mirror universe, where everything is backwards – and everybody has goatees? How badly do you need to bend the laws of physics to make this happen?
Nothing lasts forever, not even black holes. According to Stephen Hawking, black holes will evaporate over vast periods of time. But how, exactly, does this happen?
Our sun has only been around for 4.5 billion years — which means it missed the cute early years of the Milky Way galaxy. If you were standing on a planet 10 billion years ago, when the Milky Way was relatively young, the night sky would have looked very different. »
Every now and then, the universe lines up just right for us puny humans on some speck of a planet in the no-where end of the galaxy to see something amazing. This is an Einstein Ring, a near-perfect manifestation of a particular variety of gravitational lensing. »
Why does space have structure? Why does our universe have not only stars, but galaxies and galactic clusters? Researchers recently identified 234 potential proto-clusters: candidates for early galactic clusters from when the universe was just 3 billion years old that may help solve this astrophysical mystery. »
Over fifty years ago, physicist Freeman Dyson proposed an awesome, if slightly insane, idea: That an advanced alien civilization might construct a massive, energy-harvesting sphere around its star, and bunk up inside. »
"The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars," Carl Sagan famously said in his 1980 series Cosmos. "We are made of starstuff." »