astronomy

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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 »

Blogger: I Know Where the Simpsons Live

Phil Plait says he picked up on revelatory clue in recent Elon Musk episode

(Newser) - Astronomy blogger Phil Plait was psyched when he heard SpaceX chief Elon Musk was set to appear on the Jan. 25 episode of The Simpsons. But what he saw in one scene blew his mind even more than Musk's appearance: an apparent clue to the elusive question of where... More »

Mars Mystery: Bizarre 125-Mile-High Plumes

Scientists have 2 theories, neither likely

(Newser) - Amateur astronomers have made an unexpected discovery: massive plumes spouting up at least 125 miles from the surface of Mars. Two plumes, up to 620 miles wide, were spotted over the Terra Cimmeria area in the red planet's Southern Hemisphere by at least 18 people over two 10-day periods... More »

Jupiter's Red Spot Isn't What We Thought It Was

Researchers re-create phenomenon in lab

(Newser) - Scientists have made their own version of Jupiter's Great Red Spot in a lab, and it suggests that the spot's cause is very different from what's been postulated. An existing theory holds that the spot is the result of chemicals underneath the planet's clouds. But following... More »

Rapidly Vanishing in America: Dark Spots

In a decade, Milky Way could be visible from just 3 places

(Newser) - Even in the vastness of the American West, the glow from cities has become so bright that places with truly dark skies at night are becoming an endangered species. In the continental US, experts predict that in a decade, there will be just three areas where the sky will be... More »

Milky Way Is a 'Galactic Lightweight'

Same-sized neighbor Andromeda has twice the mass

(Newser) - If our galaxy were a boxer, it would have just slipped down a few weight classes—and would be no match for our neighbor Andromeda. New research has revealed that the Milky Way, while still mind-bogglingly vast, is only around half the weight of the Andromeda galaxy, which is about... More »

'Supermoon' Arrives Tomorrow

And for New Yorkers, it's time again for Manhattanhenge

(Newser) - Look, up in the sky. It's ... supermoon. A full moon with that somewhat inflated title arrives tomorrow. As CNN explains, a supermoon is a full moon that happens to occur when the moon is at its closest point to Earth in its orbit. These full moons tend to look... More »

We Got Earth's Birthday Wrong by 60M Years

Same goes for the moon, say scientists

(Newser) - The planet we're living on is about 60 million years older than previously thought. So say scientists in France who studied quartz from Australia and South Africa that dates back about 3 billion years, reports Phys.org . The ratio of gases in the quartz compared to today's ratios... More »

California Undergrad Makes Astronomy Breakthrough

No term exists for Michael Sandoval's stellar discovery

(Newser) - At just 21 years old, a California college student has made an incredible discovery: Michael Sandoval and his astrophysics professor at San Jose State have spotted what they believe is one galaxy that was swallowed up by another. The result is a dense system of stars—apparently the densest ever... More »

Amazing Simulation Shows How Universe Formed

'Dark matter' helps create accurate model, researchers say

(Newser) - It's like "flying through the universe way faster than the speed of light and watching galaxies as they are assembling," says one of the researchers who has created a stunning visual simulation of how the universe formed. The "Illlustris" model created by an international team of... More »

Tiny 'Fossil Galaxy' Could Hold Clues to Early Universe

Segue 1 apparently stopped evolving 13B years ago

(Newser) - One of our galactic neighbors, the tiny Segue 1, could be among the first galaxies ever to take shape—and it may present an opportunity for scientists to examine our universe as an infant. Segue 1's chemical composition suggests it stopped evolving some 13 billion years ago, Scientific American... More »

Moon Gets a New Birthday

Formation happened later than thought, study says

(Newser) - The cataclysmic event that formed the moon happened much later than previously believed, according to researchers who have shifted the satellite's "birthday" forward around 60 million years. New computer simulations and analysis of elements in the Earth's crust suggest that the moon formed 95 million years after... More »

Solar System First: Asteroid With Rings

'Centaur' has only rings seen outside gas giants

(Newser) - Only five bodies in the solar system are known to have rings: The gas giants Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, and Uranus—and Chariklo, a remote asteroid just 154 miles across. Astronomers say they were amazed to spot two rings made up of billion of bits of dust and ice circling the... More »

Earth Once Slammed by 'Double Impact'

Scientists: Asteroid, moon made impact at same time 458M years ago

(Newser) - Around 15% of near-Earth asteroids are binaries—an asteroid with an orbiting "moon" sometimes nearly as big as itself—but what happens when a binary slams into our planet? The answer, at least some of the time, is the creation of two huge craters, and Spanish researchers believe they... More »

Astronomers Spot Oldest Star Yet

13.6B-year-old star is in our galaxy

(Newser) - At 13.6 billion years old, a star spotted by Australian astronomers is the oldest yet found, they say. It's about 6,000 light years away from our planet—which is fairly close, the Wall Street Journal reports, and it's in our Milky Way galaxy. How do the... More »

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