Spitzer orbiting telescope

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'Alien Megastructure' May Be Comet Family

But it's still a very strange star, astronomers say

(Newser) - KIC 8462852 is an odd and fascinating star, astronomers say—but it probably isn't host to an "alien megastructure," as some researchers suggested as a longshot possibility when the star and its highly unusual dimming pattern first came to attention. Instead, Iowa State University researchers who studied... More »

Astronomers Spot Oldest Galaxy Yet

It's 13.3 billion years old, nearly as old as the universe

(Newser) - Our universe is a mind-boggling 13.7 billion years old, and now astronomers say they have found a galaxy that has been around since the universe was a spry 420 million years old, reports LiveScience . Called MACS0647-JD, the 13.3-billion-year-old galaxy is tiny, cosmically speaking, just 600 light years wide... More »

Carbon Spaceballs Spotted in Cosmic Dust

Telescope discovers giant 'buckyball' molecules

(Newser) - A type of carbon only seen before in Earth laboratories has been spotted in a cloud of cosmic dust by NASA's Spitzer telescope. "Buckyballs"—soccer ball-shaped molecules made up of 60 carbon atoms—are the largest molecules ever seen in space. Buckyballs have been made in labs by... More »

Scientists Spot End of World

Remains of solar systems discovered around dead stars

(Newser) - Astronomers looking at dead stars trillions of miles away believe they have glimpsed Earth's eventual fate, the Times of London reports. The scientists found that many white dwarfs—stars that swelled, burned out, and collapsed—are surrounded by a dust they think is the remnants of planets like ours destroyed... More »

Scientists Discover Bigger, Faster Milky Way

Scientists revise image of our galaxy

(Newser) - A study of the Milky Way using radio telescopes scattered across the US paints a new and dramatically different picture of our galaxy, reports Space.com. Our spiral-shaped galaxy is not only spinning faster than previously thought, it has 50% greater mass, with two hitherto unknown spiral arms where many... More »

Nearby Solar System Looks Familiar

(Newser) - A nearby solar system looks a lot like ours, complete with newly identified asteroid belts, gas giants, and a similarly sized sun, Space.com reports. The star at the center of the system is visible without magnification, and scientists say they can infer the presence of planets in a zone... More »

Methane Found on Far-off Planet

Compound, crucial ingredient in early-life chemistry, detected 63 light years away

(Newser) - Methane, one of the simplest compounds known to play a role in the chemical genesis of life, was discovered for the first time to exist on a planet outside Earth’s solar system, the BBC reports. The planet, designated HD 189733b, is 63 light years away and also contains water,... More »

Planet with Water Discovered

HD 189733b holds superheated water vapor but is too hot for aliens

(Newser) - Astronomers located the first planet beyond our solar system that hosts water—a giant gas ball bigger than Jupiter and named HD 189733b. Its sizzling climate, which can reach upwards of 3,600 degrees, renders it uninhabitable to any extraterrestrials, but the discovery shows that water is more common in... More »

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