The keen vision of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has detected a mysterious gap in a vast protoplanetary disk of gas and dust swirling around the nearby star TW Hydrae, located 176 light-years away in the constellation Hydra. The gap's presence is best explained as due to the effects of a growing, unseen planet that is gravitationally sweeping up material and carving out a lane in the disk, like a snow plow.
Researchers from the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) have proven a new technique that will provide a clearer picture of the Universe's history and be used with the next generation of radio telescopes such as the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).
Researchers observed the atmosphere of super-Earth GJ3470b in Cancer for the first time in the world using two telescopes at OAO (Okayama Astrophysical Observatory, NAOJ). The observational data revealed that this planet is highly likely to not be covered by thick clouds.
Space scientists from the University of New Hampshire and the Southwest Research Institute report that data gathered by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter show lighter materials like plastics provide effective shielding against the radiation hazards faced by astronauts during extended space travel. The finding could help reduce health risks to humans on future missions into deep space.
Astronomers know that gravity from Saturn's various moons tug at the planet's rings and make spirals in them. But the catalyst for certain spiral patterns has been difficult to pin down. Now, two Cornell astronomers have determined the source: Saturn itself.
Nearly a decade ago, NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory caught signs of what appeared to be a black hole snacking on gas at the middle of the nearby Sculptor galaxy. Now, NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR), which sees higher-energy X-ray light, has taken a peek and found the black hole asleep.
As part of an international team of exoplanets hunters, astronomers at the University of Arizona are developing a technique to detect faint dust clouds around other stars, many of which might hide Earth-like planets.
Based on a treasure trove of recent discoveries, astronomers now know that planets are remarkably plentiful in our galaxy and may be common throughout the Universe. Though planets appear to form readily, the actual process of planet formation remains a mystery and astronomers are searching for the missing pieces to this cosmic puzzle.