These official exoplanet artworks are the next best thing to visiting

Chances are, none of us will live long enough to travel to a planet in another star system. But at least, we can gaze upon dozens of exoplanets right now — thanks to official artworks created by NASA and some of the world's greatest high-tech observatories. Check out our favorite official exoplanet art below. » 2/11/14 3:00pm 2/11/14 3:00pm

The beautiful Prawn Nebula has been hiding in the wrong wavelengths

This nebula measures a whopping 250 light-years across, and it's close enough to Earth that its relative size in the sky is equivalent to that of four full Moons. But it's so faint in the wavelengths our eyes can actually see that it's generally been ignored until now. As this gorgeous new image from the European… » 9/22/13 5:00pm 9/22/13 5:00pm

This "comet factory" reveals first secrets of planetary formation

Planets have to start out somewhere, and the leading theory is that they begin as dust particles clumping together to form larger and larger building blocks, before finally emerging eons later as full-blown planets. But the exact physics that would allow such clumps to form has long been frustratingly unclear. » 6/09/13 5:00pm 6/09/13 5:00pm

Astronomers may have just discovered the first known free-floating…

You'll notice there's no parent star in this concept art of recently discovered (and unsexily named) CFBDSIRJ2149. That's not a mistake. In fact, it was a very conscious decision on the part of the artist. Because CFBDSIRJ2149 has gone rogue. It's homeless. A wandering planet, it orbits no star — which could well make… » 11/14/12 3:30pm 11/14/12 3:30pm

It's Full of Stars: 84 Million Stars of the Milky Way in 9 Billion…

It's impossible to capture the scale of our galaxy on your computer screen, but darned if the European Southern Observatory isn't going to try. The observatory has released a 108500×81500 pixel mosaic of the central parts of the Milky Way. You weren't planning on doing anything else with your weekend, right? » 10/27/12 1:00pm 10/27/12 1:00pm

The most detailed picture yet of a star nursery birthing new suns

On April 24, 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope was lifted into low Earth orbit and promptly turned its attention to the depths of space. Today, over 10,000 publications and almost 22 years later, Hubble continues to change the way we see and understand our Universe with images that are truly awesome in every sense of… » 4/17/12 12:28pm 4/17/12 12:28pm