Lonely Earth-like planets with tumultuous cores could conceivably support life even if they had no stars, a new study says. Researchers Dorian Abbot and Eric Switzer at the University of Chicago have dubbed these theoretical worlds “Steppenwolf planets,” because “any life in this strange habitat would exist like a lone wolf wandering the galactic steppe.” And because they were born to be wild.
Updated: Scores of Earth-like planets orbit sun-like stars scattered throughout the Milky Way, NASA scientists said today. This morning, the agency released data on more than 1,000 new exoplanets, and early indications are that 54 of them are at just the right distance from their stars to harbor life as we know it.
Before you can peer back in time 13.2 billion years, your telescope needs to be calibrated correctly, so you can be sure objects in your mirror are really as bright (and therefore as distant) as they appear. Astronomers have a few tricks to help them do this, including using light bulbs and distant stars. Now one astronomer has a simple calibration solution: put a light bulb in space.
A universal heavyweight champion was crowned this morning at the 217th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle: A giant black hole weighing a staggering 6.6 billion suns accepted the title of the most massive black hole for which a precise mass has been determined.
By linking together three massive radio telescopes in Europe, South Africa and Western Australia a University of Southampton professor is taking the lead in a global effort to capture astrophysical events across the entire sky for the first time.
Results from the largest and most ambitious survey of the cosmos ever undertaken by the Hubble Space Telescope are in, and the findings are commensurately big, suggesting dark energy is indeed real, and the general theory of relativity holds up even under larger intergalactic scrutiny.
First came dark matter, the gravitational source from within our galaxy that astronomers couldn't see. Then came dark energy, the undetectable force pushing the expansion of the universe. Now, NASA scientists believe they have confirmed a new player, dubbed "dark flow," that is dragging hundreds of galaxies along the same path. Even stranger, the researchers believe that dark flow is actually the gravitational pull from matter beyond the edge of the known universe.
Using a little astrophysical magic and the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment Telescope in northern Chile, astronomers at Durham University in England captured the best view yet of individual star nurseries in a galaxy a full 10 billion light-years from Earth. And all they had to do was bend a little light.
Dark matter, the material that makes up the majority of the matter in the universe, remains so mysterious that scientists don't even know how much of it there is, let alone how it behaves. However, using new calculations about the interaction between black holes and dark matter, scientists have deduced an upper limit on the amount of dark matter in the Milky Way.