A Harvard astronomer and his team have turned up something quite big while running publicly available data from NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, and by big we mean both in scientific magnitude and in astronomical size: two massive gamma-ray emitting bubbles extending 25,000 light-years both north and south of the Milky Way's center. The researchers aren't sure where they come from or why they're there, but the discovery of this massive new structure in the heart of our own galaxy is being equated to discovering a new continent on Earth.
Global Positioning Systems work famously here on the home planet because we control all of the moving parts; put some satellites in the sky, equip a device with the proper hardware to communicate with them, and you can locate yourself just about anywhere. But how would we locate ourselves in deep space? For that kind of spatial location, a team of Italian researchers have devised a way to calculate one’s position in space using pulsars as interstellar navigation beacons.
As the pieces of the James Webb Space Telescope – the next-gen replacement for the Hubble Space Telescope – come together, there's plenty of excitement in the astronomy community, but as Nature reports, there is plenty of anxiety as well. Webb, scheduled for launch in 2014, simply has to work.
If you're going to photograph the cosmos, the first step is to find somewhere really dark where Earthly light pollution won't spoil your shot. Following this line of thought to its logical limits, astrophotographer Stéphane Guisard went in search of the darkest possible sky he could find here on Earth, and found it at just the right time and place in Chile's Atacama Desert. The results are these breathtaking shots that on first glance may look noisy and polluted -- until you take a good close-up look at what's really there.
Perhaps the most unsettling thing about a planet-killing asteroid is that we might never see it coming. But this infographic by Mechanicsville, Md.-based designer Zachary Vabolis helpfully visualizes which candidate near-earth objects will be swinging through Earth’s neighborhood and when they’ll be closest.
Peering deep into the cosmos with its upgraded infrared camera last year, the Hubble Space Telescope was able to image a very deep region of the universe. Researchers didn’t realize it at the time, but after follow-up measurements by the ESO’s ground-based Very Large Telescope, a team of astronomers have determined that they’ve glimpsed the most distant object ever seen, some 13 billion light years away.
Researchers at Fermilab are building a “holometer” so they can disprove everything you thought you knew about the universe. More specifically, they are trying to either prove or disprove the somewhat mind-bending notion that the third dimension doesn’t exist at all, and that the 3-D universe we think we live in is nothing more than a hologram. To do so, they are building the most precise clock ever created.
Now that scientists are done making a map of the cosmic microwave background, they can use that detailed map to find hidden treasures from the ancient universe.
Using the South Pole Telescope, they've just found a mother lode: the biggest galaxy cluster ever seen, harboring about 800 trillion suns inside hundreds of galaxies.
If it seems like a new extrasolar planet is discovered every week these days, that's because there is. In fact, the rate is actually faster than one per week – 70 have been discovered thus far this year alone, bringing the overall tally of confirmed exoplanets at 494. At that pace we very well might hit exoplanet number 500 before the end of this month.