Millisecond pulsars left in the wake of supernovas could provide the basis for a type of "galactic GPS," radio astronomers say. A growing constellation of known pulsars could allow the scientists to make the first direct detection of gravitational waves -- a predicted consequence of Einstein's relativity theory. The concept might even help guide future spacecraft and explorers, not to mention errant galactic hitchhikers.
Leave it to Russia to jumpstart the long-debated idea of deflecting killer asteroids that might threaten Earth. A top Russian space official announced just prior to the New Year that he wants to put together a mission for heading off the space rock Apophis, which represents a poster child of sorts for the risk of Near-Earth Objects (NEOs). But NASA astronomers caution that a failed deflection attempt could simply make matters worse.
Stars don't tend to go quietly, and the most massive of them all create a supernova explosion 50 to 100 times brighter than normal. Now astronomers have confirmed the existence of rare but huge stars that contain 200 times the mass of our sun, after spotting one unusually bright cosmic explosion in 2007.