Astronomy articlesUK astronomers observe asteroid before it crashes into Earth
UK astronomers, using the Science and Technology Facilities Council's (STFC) William Herschel Telescope on La Palma, observed a rare asteroid as it was hurtling towards our planet and have captured the only spectrum of it before it exploded in our atmosphere. This is the very first time that an asteroid that hit the Earth has been studied before entering our atmosphere, allowing the scientists to predict whether it would explode and break up in the atmosphere or reach the ground - which determines whether an asteroid poses any threat.
Titan may have subsurface ocean of hydrocarbons
Saturn's largest moon, Titan, may have a subterranean ocean of hydrocarbons and some topsy-turvy topography in which the summits of its mountains lie lower than its average surface elevation, according to new research.
UBC, U of T team helps solve mystery of starlight's origins
Scientists from the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia have helped unveil the birthplaces of ancient stars using a two-tonne telescope carried by a balloon the size of a 33-storey building.
How to deflect asteroids and save the Earth
You may want to thank David French in advance. Because, in the event that a comet or asteroid comes hurtling toward Earth, he may be the guy responsible for saving the entire planet.
Features of early martian environment and presence of water drive search for life forms
Solar energy and winds, collisions with asteroids and comets, and changing magnetic fields have all altered the environment of Mars, a planet that may have been able to support life during its history, as documented in a special collection of papers published in the current issue of Astrobiology, a peer-reviewed journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
Creating diamonds in space
Do you know that there are countless diamonds in space? Loads of tiny diamonds, each measuring less than one micrometer (much less than the width of a human hair) are located in the material that surrounds some stars--their circumstellar disks. Although circumstellar diamonds account for little of a disk's weight, their combined volume would be as large as part of a moon.
Largest collection of anomalous white dwarfs observed in new Hubble images
Twenty-four unusual stars, 18 of them newly discovered, have been observed in new Hubble telescope images. The stars are white dwarfs, a common type of dead star, but they are odd because they are made of helium rather than the usual carbon and oxygen. This is the first extensive sequence of helium-core white dwarfs to be observed in a globular cluster, a dense swarm of some of the oldest stars in our galaxy.
Scientists give a hand(edness) to the search for alien life
Visiting aliens may be the stuff of legend, but if a scientific team working at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is right, we may be able to find extraterrestrial life even before it leaves its home planet-by looking for left- (or right-) handed light.
Mysterious space blob discovered at cosmic dawn
Using information from a suite of telescopes, astronomers have discovered a mysterious, giant object that existed at a time when the universe was only about 800 million years old. Objects such as this one are dubbed extended Lyman-Alpha blobs; they are huge bodies of gas that may be precursors to galaxies. This blob was named Himiko for a legendary, mysterious Japanese queen. It stretches for 55 thousand light years, a record for that early point in time. That length is comparable to the radius of the Milky Way's disk.
We owe it all to comets
Comets have always fascinated us. A mysterious appearance could symbolize God's displeasure or mean a sure failure in battle, at least for one side. Now Tel Aviv University justifies our fascination - comets might have provided the elements for the emergence of life on our planet.
Missing planets attest to destructive power of stars' tides
During the last two decades, astronomers have found hundreds of planets orbiting stars outside our solar system. New research indicates they might have found even more except for one thing -- some planets have fallen into their stars and simply no longer exist.
Study plunges standard theory of cosmology into crisis
As modern cosmologists rely more and more on the ominous "dark matter" to explain otherwise inexplicable observations, much effort has gone into the detection of this mysterious substance in the last two decades, yet no direct proof could be found that it actually exists. Even if it does exist, dark matter would be unable to reconcile all the current discrepancies between actual measurements and predictions based on theoretical models.
Creating the astro-comb to locate earth-like planets
Thanks to the ability of astronomers to detect the presence of extrasolar planets orbiting distant stars, scientists today are able to examine hundreds of solar systems. Now researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass. have created an "astro-comb" to help astronomers detect lighter planets, more like Earth, around distant stars.
'Smart turbine blades' to improve wind power
Researchers have developed a technique that uses sensors and computational software to constantly monitor forces exerted on wind turbine blades, a step toward improving efficiency by adjusting for rapidly changing wind conditions.
Star crust 10 billion times stronger than steel
Research by a theoretical physicist at Indiana University shows that the crusts of neutron stars are 10 billion times stronger than steel or any other of the earth's strongest metal alloys.
Life in the universe? Almost certainly. Intelligence? Maybe not
We are likely not alone in the universe, though it may feel like it, since life on other planets is probably dominated by microbes or other nonspeaking creatures, according to scientists who gave their take on extraterrestrial life at Harvard recently.
MMTO confirms ultra-faint object in milky way halo is dwarf galaxy
How small can a galaxy be? Astronomers are now finding small-fry galaxies that contain fewer than a million, possibly as few as a thousand, stars.
NASA/University team develops new method to find alien oceans
NASA-sponsored scientists looking back at Earth with the Deep Impact/EPOXI mission have developed a method to indicate whether Earth-like alien (extrasolar) worlds have oceans.
Ghost remains after black hole eruption
NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has found a cosmic "ghost" lurking around a distant supermassive black hole. This is the first detection of such a high-energy apparition, and scientists think it is evidence of a huge eruption produced by the black hole.
Better supernovae measurements aim to improve understanding of dark energy
A new technique for measuring the distances to supernovae more accurately than ever before has been developed by a team of scientists from Yale University, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a consortium of French laboratories.