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Ancient crater may be clue to Moon's mantle

A massive impact on the Moon about 4 billion years ago left a 2,500-mile crater, among the largest known craters in the solar system. Smaller subsequent impacts left craters within that crater. Comparing the spectra of light reflected from the peaks of those craters may yield clues to the composition of the Moon's lower crust and mantle - and would have implications for models of how the Moon formed.

Posted: Dec 9th, 2013

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Astronomers discover planet that shouldn't be there

An international team of astronomers, led by a University of Arizona graduate student, has discovered the most distantly orbiting planet found to date around a single, sun-like star. Weighing in at 11 times Jupiter's mass and orbiting its star at 650 times the average Earth-Sun distance, planet HD 106906 b is unlike anything in our own Solar System and defies current planet formation theories.

Posted: Dec 5th, 2013

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Glimpsing the infrastructure of a gamma-ray burst jet

A new study using observations from a novel instrument provides the best look to date at magnetic fields at the heart of gamma-ray bursts, the most energetic explosions in the universe. An international team of astronomers from Britain, Slovenia and Italy has glimpsed the infrastructure of a burst's high-speed jet.

Posted: Dec 4th, 2013

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A blast from its past dates the youngest neutron-star binary

X-rays streaming toward Earth from the region near a neutron star that is cannibalizing its companion star have revealed the pair to be the youngest "X-ray binary" yet known. The discovery, by a team that includes a Penn State astronomer, also solves a long-unsolved mystery about this record-breaking object, named Circinus X-1.

Posted: Dec 4th, 2013

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Explosive growth of young star

A star is formed when a large cloud of gas and dust condenses and eventually becomes so dense that it collapses into a ball of gas, where the pressure heats the matter, creating a glowing gas ball - a star is born. New research from the Niels Bohr Institute, among others, shows that a young, newly formed star in the Milky Way had such an explosive growth, that it was initially about 100 times brighter than it is now.

Posted: Dec 4th, 2013

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Ocean currents shape Europa's icy shell in ways critical for potential habitats

In a finding of relevance to the search for life in our solar system, researchers have shown the subsurface ocean on Jupiter's moon Europa may have deep currents and circulation patterns with heat and energy transfers capable of sustaining biological life. The findings, summarized in this week's online edition of Nature Geosciences, are based on numerical models accounting for the formation of the chaos terrains, one of Europa's most prominent surface features.

Posted: Dec 3rd, 2013

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Hubble traces subtle signals of water on hazy worlds

Using the powerful eye of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, two teams of scientists have found faint signatures of water in the atmospheres of five distant planets. The presence of atmospheric water was reported previously on a few exoplanets orbiting stars beyond our solar system, but this is the first study to conclusively measure and compare the profiles and intensities of these signatures on multiple worlds.

Posted: Dec 3rd, 2013

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The mystery of neutron stars heats up

Until now, scientists were pretty sure they knew how the surface of a neutron star - a super dense star that forms when a large star explodes and its core collapses into itself - can heat itself up. However, research by a team of scientists led by a Michigan State University physicist has researchers rethinking that.

Posted: Dec 1st, 2013

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ESA project to map a billion stars in the Milky Way

The Milky Way Galaxy comprises hundreds of billions stars. An ambitious ESA project will map around a billion of these. The European funded GREAT network will train young researchers across Europe to help make sense of this wealth of data.

Posted: Nov 29th, 2013

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