Using new technology at the telescope and in laboratories, researchers have discovered an important pair of prebiotic molecules in interstellar space. The discoveries indicate that some basic chemicals that are key steps on the way to life may have formed on dusty ice grains floating between the stars.
NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope orbits our planet every 95 minutes, building up increasingly deeper views of the universe with every circuit. Now a Fermi scientist has transformed LAT data of a famous pulsar into a mesmerizing movie that visually encapsulates the spacecraft's complex motion.
Two X-ray space observatories, NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton, have teamed up to measure definitively, for the first time, the spin rate of a black hole with a mass 2 million times that of our sun.
Even dying stars could host planets with life - and if such life exists, we might be able to detect it within the next decade. This encouraging result comes from a new theoretical study of Earth-like planets orbiting white dwarf stars. Researchers found that we could detect oxygen in the atmosphere of a white dwarf's planet much more easily than for an Earth-like planet orbiting a Sun-like star.
Black holes shape the growth and death of the stars around them through their powerful gravitational pull and explosive ejections of energy. In a recent Science paper, researchers predicted the formation of accretion disks and relativistic jets that warp and bend more than previously thought, shaped by the extreme gravity of the black hole and by powerful magnetic forces generated by its spin.
There is research that is off the wall, some off the charts and some off the planet, such as what an aerospace and physics professor is exploring. It's a plan to deflect a killer asteroid by using paint, and the science behind it is absolutely rock solid, so to speak, so much so that NASA is getting involved and wants to know much more.
Unlike comets, asteroids are not characterised by exhibiting a trail, but there are now ten exceptions. Spanish researchers have observed one of these rare asteroids from the Gran Telescopio Canarias (Spain) and have discovered that something happened around the 1st July 2011 causing its trail to appear: maybe internal rupture or collision with another asteroid.
ESA's Herschel space observatory has detected a cool layer in the atmosphere of Alpha Centauri A, the first time this has been seen in a star beyond our own Sun. The finding is not only important for understanding the Sun's activity, but could also help in the quest to discover proto-planetary systems around other stars.
Gravity remains the dominant force on large astronomical scales, but when it comes to stars in young star clusters the dynamics in these crowded environments cannot be simply explained by the pull of gravity.