Although scientists are increasingly using pint-size satellites sometimes no larger than a loaf of bread to gather data from low-Earth orbit, they have yet to apply the less-expensive small-satellite technology to observe physical phenomena far from terra firma.
Astronomers have long known that powerful cosmic winds can sometimes blow through galaxies, sweeping out interstellar material and stopping future star formation. Now they have a clearer snapshot of how it happens.
NASA's Kepler mission has confirmed the first near-Earth-size planet in the 'habitable zone' around a sun-like star. This discovery and the introduction of 11 other new small habitable zone candidate planets mark another milestone in the journey to finding another Earth.
Astronomers have discovered jets of material ejected by still-forming young brown dwarfs. The discovery is the first direct evidence that brown dwarfs, intermediate in mass between stars and planets, are produced by a scaled-down version of the same process that produces stars.
An international team of astronomers led by the University of Cambridge have detected the most distant clouds of star-forming gas yet found in normal galaxies in the early Universe - less than one billion years after the Big Bang. The new observations will allow astronomers to start to see how the first galaxies were built up and how they cleared the cosmic fog during the era of reionisation.
Astronomers could discover a plethora of planets around binary star systems (stars that rotate around each other) by measuring with high precision how stars move around each other, looking for disturbances exerted by possible exoplanets.
A research team has been targeting Sun-like stars in a bid to find planetary systems similar to our Solar System. The team has now uncovered a planet with a very similar mass to Jupiter, orbiting a Sun-like star, HIP 11915, at almost exactly the same distance as Jupiter.
Two of NASA's heliophysics missions can now claim planetary science on their list of scientific findings. A group of scientists used the Venus transit - a very rare event where a planet passes between Earth and the sun, appearing to us as a dark dot steadily making its way across the sun's bright face - to make measurements of how the Venusian atmosphere absorbs different kinds of light.
What looks like a shooting target is actually an image of nested rings of X-ray light centered on an erupting black hole. On June 15, NASA's Swift satellite detected the start of a new outburst from V404 Cygni, where a black hole and a sun-like star orbit each other.
Astronomers have spotted a super-sized black hole in the early universe that grew much faster than its host galaxy. The discovery runs counter to most observations about black holes In most cases, black holes and their host galaxies expand at the same rate.
Named Kelvin-Helmholtz waves in the late 1800s after their discoverers, these waves have since been discovered all over the universe: in clouds, in the atmospheres of other planets, and on the sun. Now two recently published papers highlight these shapely waves at the boundaries of near-Earth space.
Earth-like planets orbiting other stars in the Milky Way are three times more likely to have the same type of minerals as Earth than astronomers had previously thought. In fact, conditions for making the building blocks of Earth-like rocks are ubiquitous throughout the Milky Way.