After 50 years of research, we've discovered a strange, beautiful fact about our Sun: it's more perfectly round than anything else in the natural world. It's not the roundest in a certain category; it's just the roundest sphere there is. If it were a beach ball, The Guardian writes, it would be a hair's width away from complete perfection.
Stars are responsible for forging every heavy element in the universe when they fuse hydrogen and when they explode at the ends of their lives. But they also create a strange third type of chemical bond between atoms, caused by their incredible magnetic fields. This previously unknown type of bond could lead to new research in quantum science, perhaps even quantum computing.
First, the bad news: In four billion years it's going to get a lot more crowded around here. The Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies are on a collision course. The good news is that a new video from NASA shows how it'll go down.
Of all the ways planets can die--consumed by their host stars, for instance, or obliterated by a collision with another planet or asteroid--evaporation isn’t one that had crossed many astronomer’s minds. But data from the exoplanet-hunting Kepler observatory has revealed a nearby planet--just 1,500 light years from Earth--that appears to be evaporating before our very eyes. Over the next 100 million years, the planet will completely disintegrate.
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.
First, it's important to know that the big bang wasn't an explosion of matter into empty space—it was the rapid expansion of space itself. This means that every single point in the universe appears to be at the center. Think of the universe as an empty balloon with dots on it. Those dots represent clusters of galaxies. As the balloon inflates, every dot moves farther away from every other dot.
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.
When light from an exploding star in the Large Magellanic Cloud reached Earth in 1987, it was the closest supernova explosion astronomers had witnessed in centuries. Now Supernova 1987a is making history again, this time as the youngest supernova remnant that can be seen from Earth.
Astronomers just spotted a brand-new supernova mere hours after it exploded, thanks to a robotic telescope and some smart computer algorithms. Now they’re scrambling to use as many telescopes as possible, on Earth and in space, to observe the star’s death throes.
Using NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer telescope, astronomers have finally spotted a collection of ultra-cool brown dwarfs they have been hunting for more than a decade. These tepid almost-star orbs are nearly impossible to see with a normal telescope, but WISE’s infrared vision was able to pick them out.