New Yorkers will be given an astronomical treat tonight as the sunset perfectly lines up across the borough of Manhattan, giving a luminescent flare to the south and north sides of every street in town.
A friendly reminder for skywatchers in East Asia and the American West: On Sunday May 20 (May 21st across the date line in Asia) the moon will blot out 94 percent of our star's early evening light in an annular solar eclipse that should leave a dazzling ring of fire in the sky. The solar eclipse won't be total because the moon will be near its apogee--its farthest point from Earth in its elliptical orbit--but it should still be pretty spectacular. Click through to SPACE.com for a map of the actual path of the eclipse (in the States it will blaze a trail from northern California down to the Texas panhandle) and remember kids: don't ever look directly into the sun.
Scientists from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Johns Hopkins University report seeing a phenomenon we've all imagined: a black hole devouring a star.
A black hole at the center of a galaxy about 2.7 billion light-years away, one about the same size as the black hole at the center of our own Milky Way, was observed sucking the life out of a star.
Splitting the world’s largest radio telescope across half the Earth could resolve an international quarrel that is brewing between two continents, researchers say. Australia and South Africa are vying to host the Square Kilometer Array, which will peer back to the early universe, and now it’s getting political.
NASA’s plane-with-a-hole-in-it has been busy making infrared astronomy observations, and just captured a quiet, sad sight — the feeble last pulsations of a dying star. Astronomers say the images paint the most complete picture yet of how stellar material is recycled and reborn.
A little more than a decade from now, one of the world's great arid plains will become a bustling intersection of high-resolution astronomy and high-powered computing. Scrub land in either South Africa or Australia will host the biggest telescope ever, the Square Kilometer Array (SKA), designed to listen to the oldest birth pangs of the universe. And the brains of the operation will likely be the world's most powerful supercomputer.
Astronomers have long known that when binary star systems wander too close to a supermassive black hole under the right conditions, they can be torn apart in such a way that one star is pulled into orbit around the black hole and the other is violently ejected outward, sending it speeding out of the galaxy and into interstellar space. Now it turns out individual planets can suffer a similar fate--and when they do, they can do so at up to 30 million miles per hour, making them some of the fastest-moving objects in our galaxy.
Over at the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC), which is associated with Stanford University and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, a new study indicates that not only are there many so-called "nomad planets" in our galaxy, but that there may be tens of thousands of them, drifting through the Milky Way unattached to a star or your buttoned-up corporate way of life.
For something that might not even exist, black holes do a whole lot of work for modern physics. These regions of compact mass--so dense that not even light can escape their gravitational fields--are a major underpinning of general relativity, and inform much of what we think we understand about how galaxies work. It's a lot to ask of a phenomenon that we've never actually seen.
Then again seeing a black hole is, by definition, a difficult idea to execute. The absence of reflected light makes black holes invisible, and the fact that the really interesting supermassive ones hide obscured at the center of galaxies compounds the problem. You would need to build a telescope the size of planet Earth to capture an image of a black hole. And that's exactly what Sheperd Doeleman, assistant director of MIT's Haystack Observatory, and his colleagues at the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) are trying to do.