astronomy

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Century-Old Evidence of Exoplanet Stuns Scientists

It came 70 years ahead of first exoplanet discovery

(Newser) - Polluted white dwarf stars—which host planetary debris like calcium, magnesium, and iron—are key in helping astronomers discover what's beyond our solar system. "The mechanism that creates the rings of planetary debris, and the deposition onto the stellar atmosphere, requires the gravitational influence of full-fledged planets,"... More »

Astronomers Spot 'Biggest Structure in Universe'

Galaxy supercluster is 1B light years across

(Newser) - A newly identified cosmic feature is so enormous that it has left some of the finest minds in astronomy well and truly boggled. The BOSS—named after the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey—is a wall, or supercluster, of at least 830 galaxies connected by filaments of gas, which Smithsonian likens... More »

Fans of Jupiter, This Is Your Night

Planet will be at its brightest in the night sky

(Newser) - People in other parts of the world are being treated to a solar eclipse this week, but Americans get a consolation prize with a terrific view of Jupiter in the night sky. Earth is passing between the sun and Jupiter, making the planet as bright as it will be for... More »

Mysterious Repeating Signals Are Arriving From Deep Space

'Fast radio bursts' are now even more baffling to astronomers

(Newser) - Researchers just announced the discovery of radio signals from beyond our galaxy that are behaving in strange ways. Fast radio bursts—or FRBs—are very rare, very quick blasts of radio waves originating billions of light years away, Popular Science explains. It's unclear where exactly in the universe they'... More »

This Is the Farthest Galaxy Ever Spotted, Astronomers Say

They've discovered a galaxy from a time when the universe was just a 'toddler'

(Newser) - Astronomers say they have discovered a hot, star-popping galaxy that is far, far away—farther than any previously detected, from a time when the universe was a mere toddler of about 400 million years old. By employing a different technique—one that has raised some skepticism—a team of astronomers... More »

'Astonishing' Clay Tablet May Rewrite Math History

Babylonian insights predate calculus

(Newser) - A newly deciphered clay tablet from ancient Babylon has science writers buzzing because it just might "rewrite the history of mathematics," as Live Science puts it. The tablet shows that Babylonians were using sophisticated geometric principles to track the path of Jupiter in the sky, says researcher Mathieu... More »

5 Brightest Planets Begin Rising Together

Look for them: Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, and Mercury

(Newser) - Like stargazing in the pre-dawn hours? Then here you go: The sky's five brightest planets visible from Earth will soon be lined up for the first time in over a decade, the Conversation reports. Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, and Venus—which have been up visible together since early January—will... More »

New Definition Could Make the Moon a Planet

Astronomer's mathematical formula could help in identifying exoplanets

(Newser) - You'll remember the International Astronomical Union's redefinition of a planet in 2006 as the move that demoted Pluto to a mere dwarf planet. But scientists recall the change for another reason: The new classification is incredibly vague. Basically, any nearly round celestial body that orbits the sun and... More »

Farthest Object in Our Solar System Has Been Found

Dwarf planet V774104 is about 9.6B miles from the sun

(Newser) - Think Pluto is far from us? It's a hop, skip, and a jump away compared to what may be the most distant object in our solar system, which is "three times farther than Pluto is from the sun," astronomer Scott Sheppard explains. Sheppard and his colleagues used... More »

Planet-Hunting Professor Quits in Disgrace

UC Berkeley didn't punish him for groping students

(Newser) - One of the world's leading experts on planets outside our solar system has had to resign in disgrace because he couldn't keep his hands off female students. Astronomer Geoff Marcy stepped down from his professorship at the University of California, Berkeley on Wednesday after it emerged that a... More »

Earth's Prime Meridian Is Now Mostly Marked by a Trash Can

Science explains how the important longitudinal line moved 334 feet

(Newser) - Don't tell the swarms of tourists paying nearly $15 to pose with one leg on either side of the prime meridian at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England, but Earth's true prime meridian actually passes through a park approximately 334 feet to the east near a trash can.... More »

Age-Old Mystery About the Human Eye May Be Solved

We can see a single candle flame from 1.6 miles away, say astronomers

(Newser) - The power of human eyesight is often debated with a single question: How far can the human eye see a single candle flame? A quick Google search turns up guesses ranging from three to 30 miles, but no one has tried to find out for certain—partly because of the... More »

Friday's Rare Blue Moon the Last Until 2018

There are 13 full moons this year

(Newser) - When Friday's blue moon arrives, don't expect it to be blue—a blue moon isn't actually that color, reports CNN , though some full moons can indeed have a bluish hue. The phrase "once in a blue moon" refers to something that is rare, and it was... More »

Physicist Unearths Key Detail About Iconic WWII Photo

His finding debunks several people's claims to be the ones kissing

(Newser) - The party started early on VJ Day. Though the official announcement that World War II ended wasn't made until closer to 7pm on Aug. 14, 1945, a scientific assessment of the famous photo of the couple kissing in celebration, called "VJ Day in Times Square" and widely known... More »

Largest Structure Ever Found Is a Really Cold Hole

Some call the discovery independent evidence of dark energy

(Newser) - Researchers using NASA's Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer and a telescope in Maui have discovered what they are calling the "largest individual structure ever identified by humanity," reports the Royal Astronomical Society . So large, in fact, that the only way to measure its size is in light-years—1.... More »

Scan of 100K Galaxies Finds Zero 'Super-Civilizations'

Theoretical 'Kardashev III' galaxy masters may not exist

(Newser) - Super-civilizations that conquer entire galaxies may only exist in science fiction, a new study suggests. In the scale of possible civilizations proposed by Russian astronomer Nikolai Kardashev, highly advanced Type III civilizations are capable of harnessing the whole power of a galaxy, but a survey of the most promising 100,... More »

Why Astronomers Hate Roomba's Lawnmower Plans

'It's telescopes vs. robots'

(Newser) - The next big thing in lawn-mowing technology could come from the makers of the Roomba—but first, they're facing a fight with astronomers. That's because iRobot's proposed device would use radio signals to keep the mowers from going rogue and moving off a user's property. Robot... More »

The Stars Could Be 'Singing'

But no one can hear it

(Newser) - The mathematician Pythagoras long ago described "music in the spacing of the spheres," and the idea has influenced astronomy for centuries, Universe Today has noted. Now, scientists have found that the music of the spheres might exist quite literally. Researchers studying the way a laser interacts with plasma... More »

Jupiter Made Our Solar System Weird

Wandering planet wiped out early super-Earths

(Newser) - As astronomers get a better look at the planets circling other stars, it's becoming increasingly apparent that our solar system is pretty strange—and Jupiter seems to be the reason why. Most other solar systems appear to have at least one large planet orbiting very close to the star,... More »

Each Year, Spring Is a Tiny Bit Shorter

Don't worry, you're only missing half a minute

(Newser) - Prepare for a spring that's about 30 seconds shorter than last year's, which was 30 seconds shorter than the one before. The changing length of the season is related to the tilt of the Earth's axis, LiveScience reports. It's a matter of what's known as... More »

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