Here's What The Night Sky Would Look Like With Much Better Eyes

Not too long ago, most people on Earth could look up at night and see the Milky Way's stunning ribbon of stars. But if you live in a modern city or suburb awash in light pollution, that dazzling view of the night sky is about as rare as a wild predator sighting. » 3/15/15 1:53pm 3/15/15 1:53pm

An Astonishingly Long Spiral Arm May Encircle The Entire Milky Way

Chinese astronomers have discovered a new spiral arm at the outer reaches of the Milky Way. But it might be an extension of a distant arm discovered back in 2011, suggesting that a majestic spiral arm encircles the entire galaxy. » 1/09/15 8:00am 1/09/15 8:00am

The Largest X-Ray Flare Ever Just Erupted From The Center Of Our Galaxy

Astronomers attempting to monitor a cloud of gas reacting to the black hole at the center of our galaxy got a huge surprise: A giant x-ray flare erupting from that black hole, the largest one ever detected. » 1/06/15 10:20am 1/06/15 10:20am

A Density Map Showing 219 Million Stars Of The Visible Milky Way

It took University of Hertfordshire astronomers 10 years to do it, but their meticulous efforts have resulted in a mindboggingly detailed catalogue of the visible part of the northern section of the Milky Way — a vast swath of space that contains new fewer than 219 million stars. » 9/16/14 6:20am 9/16/14 6:20am

The Milky Way Galaxy, As Seen From a 747

On the right of this image is our home galaxy, the Milky Way. On the left, the wing of a Boeing 747. How, pray tell, does one acquire such a photograph? » 6/15/14 5:00pm 6/15/14 5:00pm

The Strangest Visualization Of The Milky Way We've Ever Seen

This image may look like a cloudy sunset reflected over the ocean — it's actually a shot of the Milky Way, as seen by the ESA's Planck Satellite. The unique perspective reveals previously unseen characteristics of our galaxy. And it may provide crucial insights into how the universe was born. » 5/06/14 11:00am 5/06/14 11:00am

This time-lapse makes me want to move to South Dakota

This is one of the most arresting compilations of landscape and astrovideography we've seen in ages. Titled "Huelux," created by photographer Randy Halverson, the video plays like a greatest-hits reel of natural phenomena in South Dakota, Wyoming and Utah. » 2/03/14 3:22pm 2/03/14 3:22pm

When Light Pollution Works in Your Favor

Let's all move to the Isle of Wight and camp out every. Single. Night.

New Kepler data could change our odds of meeting aliens

Earlier this week we reported on the astounding revelation that 22% of sunlike stars in the Milky Way are orbited by potentially habitable, Earth-sized worlds. Given that there may be billions upon billions of life-friendly planets out there, it's time to revise the numbers in the Drake Equation and estimate how many… » 11/08/13 9:38am 11/08/13 9:38am

Two Billion Reasons Why We're About to Find Earth 2

Planet-hunting scientists announced today that 22% of sunlike stars in the Milky Way are orbited by potentially habitable, Earth-size worlds. This remarkable finding indicates that there may be as many as two billion planets in our galaxy suitable for life — and that the nearest such planet may be only 12 light-years… » 11/04/13 1:42pm 11/04/13 1:42pm

The most accurate 3D map of our galaxy reveals a peanut-shaped core

Our solar system is located in an offshoot of one of the Milky Way's spiral arms, so we don't have a clear sense of what our galaxy looks like edge on. Now, two groups of astronomers have pooled their data to create the most detailed map yet of the galaxy's core — and its shape comes as a surprise. » 9/12/13 9:00am 9/12/13 9:00am

There's something weird going on with our galaxy's planetary nebulae

This weird, hourglass-shaped structure is a planetary nebula, the not entirely accurate name given to the clump of gas that forms after a dying sun ejects it outer layers. Astronomers recently looked at over a hundred of these nebulae in the Milky Way's galactic center. Shockingly, a huge number of the nebulae appear… » 9/08/13 2:00pm 9/08/13 2:00pm

Behold the Magellanic Stream that encircles the Milky Way

Eons ago, two of our satellite galaxies became locked in a cosmic game of tug-of-war. Their fierce gravitational interactions ripped out a huge ribbon of hot, potentially star-forming gas that now surrounds much of our own galaxy's southern hemisphere, as this amazing new Hubble image shows. » 8/18/13 5:00pm 8/18/13 5:00pm

Don't freak out, but our galaxy might be surrounded by 2,000 rogue…

Galaxies and their central supermassive black holes grew in tandem, the result of countless collisions and mergers between ancient, smaller galaxies. But galaxies sometimes merged without combining their black holes, ejecting some of these objects out into the depths of open space. » 3/31/13 5:00pm 3/31/13 5:00pm

Rare binary stars help astronomers measure our place in the universe

We know that the Milky Way is surrounded by an array of satellite galaxies, the largest of which is the rather aptly named Large Magellanic Cloud. But figuring out exactly how far away our cosmic neighbor is has proved fiendishly difficult. » 3/10/13 9:00am 3/10/13 9:00am

Has the Milky Way devoured other galaxies?

A new discovery could rewrite the history books on the Milky Way. According to a new study published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, our galaxy absorbed a smaller satellite galaxy several million years ago. But more than that, it was a celestial event that culminated in the meeting of each… » 3/06/13 1:00pm 3/06/13 1:00pm

Astronomers say there are at least 17 billion Earth-sized planets in…

Back in June of last year, astronomers working with the Kepler space telescope made the bold proclamation that all stars have planets. While this is all fine-and-well (if not intuitively obvious), what was not known is how many Earth-sized planets are out there. But now, a new analysis of Kepler data may be providing… » 1/08/13 9:00am 1/08/13 9:00am

How to take pictures of the Milky Way without leaving the galaxy

On planet Earth, we sit at the edge of the Milky Way Galaxy, nestled thousands of light years from the black hole at its center, in the Orion–Cygnus Arm. In our textbooks we see beautiful images of our own celestial neighborhood, a spiral of stars emanating from a galactic core. » 11/02/12 11:40am 11/02/12 11:40am