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.
Astronomers have been able to observe the dust contents of galaxies as seen just 1 billion years after the Big Bang - a time period known as redshift 5-6. These are the earliest average-sized galaxies to ever be directly observed and characterized in this way.
NASA's Swift satellite detected a rising tide of high-energy X-rays from the constellation Cygnus on June 15, just before 2:32 p.m. EDT. About 10 minutes later, the Japanese experiment on the International Space Station called the Monitor of All-sky X-ray Image (MAXI) also picked up the flare.
The universe can be a very sticky place, but just how sticky is a matter of debate. That is because for decades cosmologists have had trouble reconciling the classic notion of viscosity based on the laws of thermodynamics with Einstein's general theory of relativity. However, a team has come up with a fundamentally new mathematical formulation of the problem that appears to bridge this long-standing gap.
Type Ia supernovae are the 'standard candles' astrophysicists use to chart distance in the Universe. But are these dazzling exploding stars truly all the same? To answer this, scientists must first understand what causes stars to explode and become supernovae. Recently, a unique collaborative project provided a rare glimpse of the process.
Astronomers have found evidence that enigmatic objects in nearby galaxies - called ultra-luminous X-ray sources (ULXs) - exhibit strong outflows that are created as matter falls onto their black holes at unexpectedly high rates. The strong outflows suggest that the black holes in these ULXs must be much smaller than expected.
A new NASA supercomputer simulation of the planet and debris disk around the nearby star Beta Pictoris reveals that the planet's motion drives spiral waves throughout the disk, a phenomenon that causes collisions among the orbiting debris.
An international team of scientists has discovered an immense cloud of hydrogen escaping from a Neptune-sized exoplanet. Such a phenomena not only helps explain the formation of hot and rocky 'super-earths', but also may potentially act as a signal for detecting extrasolar oceans.
Active galactic nuclei are the brightest objects in the universe. They are not lit up permanently, but rather 'flicker' extremely slowly. This insight helps researchers better understand the influence these nuclei and black holes have on their host galaxy.
In late 2013, when the neutron star at the heart of one of our galaxy's oddest supernovae gave off a massive burst of X-rays, the resulting echoes - created when the X-rays bounced off clouds of dust in interstellar space - yielded a surprising new measuring stick for astronomers.