It was a rough month for Phobos, as astronomers decreed—yet again—that Mars is ripping its lumpy moon apart. But apparently, Phobos’ loss is the Red Planet’s gain. After the satellite is torn to pieces, its fragments will fan out into a disk and 20 million years from now, Mars will become a ringed planet. »
In early 2016, astronomers will be looking at a specific part of the sky, knowing with near certainty that a supernova will appear. How is it possible to predict such events? The answer has to do with an effect known as gravitational lensing. »
Is anything more striking than this family portrait of Dione and Enceladus? The two Saturnian moons are night and day when you put them side by side, and yet they’re made from the exact same material. »
Unlike spiral galaxies, with their flat shape and twisted arms, elliptical galaxies are featureless blobs without much structure. But then there’s NGC 3610—an elliptical galaxy with a bright and distinctly disc-like shape at its center. Astronomers say it’s a blast from this galaxy’s past, one that played an important… »
Sometimes (often) I think about how great our distant descendants are going to have it; whizzing about the Milky Way in sleek, FTL-enabled spacecraft. Some of those lucky future humans may even get to glimpse wonders like this with their own eyes.
Astronomers have measured and mapped a weather system on a planet outside our solar system for the first time, and I’m sad to report that interstellar camping trips maaaay not be so much fun after all. On planet HD 189733b, at least, the winds are blowing at a breathtaking 5,400 miles per hour. »
V774104: That’s the name of the new dwarf planet astronomers revealed this week, and it’s three times as far away from the sun as Pluto. It’s the most distant object ever discovered in our solar system—and it could mean there are even more far-flung planets in our corner of the universe just waiting to be discovered. »
Mayhem in the outer solar system! Pluto’s four baby moons—Nix, Styx, Hydra and Kerberos—are spinning like mad, surely a sign that the once-ninth planet is gearing up for a full-out assault on the denizens (us!) of the sunlit realm. »
Astronomers in India have discovered a very unusual galaxy, and it’s dying. By now, in fact, it’s probably already dead. »
The Orion Nebula has taught astronomers a great deal about how stars are born and how planetary systems form. »
Even galaxies can get locked in destructive relationships. 70 million light years from Earth in the direction of the Sextans constellation, the two cosmic behemoths pictured here are pulling each other apart, spiral arms fraying into sweeping tidal tails that stretch across the light years. »
For fifteen days in November, the Earth will be blanketed in darkness during an astronomical blackout like nothing you’ve seen before! Except it won’t, because what the fuck is an “astronomical blackout”? Isn’t the universe cool enough without making shit up? »
Using the VISTA telescope, astronomers in Chile have discovered a previously undetected band of young stars hidden away behind thick clouds of dust in the central bulge of the Milky Way.
You’ve heard it before: In space, no one can hear you scream. That’s because sound doesn’t move through a vacuum, and everyone knows that space is a vacuum. The thing is, that’s not completely true. »
The Kepler Space Telescope recently picked up unprecedented flickering behavior from a distant star, leading to speculation that—among other things—it might be an alien megastructure. Now, some astronomers are saying it might just be caused by a rapidly spinning and irregularly shaped star.
Over the next several nights, skywatchers will be treated to a cool celestial sight as Venus, Mars, and Jupiter hang out together in the morning sky. Here’s what you need to know about the rare conjunction and how to watch. »