Scientists have replaced the telescope by the microscope: Using the similarities between the structure of a crystal and the state of the cosmos in the early universe, they have explored a yet unconfirmed phenomenon, the formation of cosmic strings. These so-called "topological defects" are believed to have formed as the universe expanded shortly after the Big Bang.
Look up at the night sky and you'll see stars, sure. But you're also seeing planets - billions and billions of them. At least. That's the conclusion of a new study by astronomers at Caltech that provides yet more evidence that planetary systems are the cosmic norm.
A new study observes 13 smaller satellite galaxies orbiting around the immense Andromeda galaxy in a way similar to how the planets in our solar system orbit around the sun. The galaxies are orbiting on a thin, pancake-like plane at a scale 900 million times larger than our own solar system.
Enormous outflows of charged particles from the centre of our Galaxy, stretching more than halfway across the sky and moving at supersonic speeds, have been detected and mapped with CSIRO's 64-m Parkes radio telescope.
As if space travel was not already filled with enough dangers, a new study shows that cosmic radiation - which would bombard astronauts on deep space missions to places like Mars - could accelerate the onset of Alzheimer's disease.
Of the three telescopes carried by NASA's Swift satellite, only one captures cosmic light at energies similar to those seen by the human eye. Although small by the standards of ground-based observatories, Swift's Ultraviolet/Optical Telescope (UVOT) plays a critical role in rapidly pinpointing the locations of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), the brightest explosions in the cosmos.
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has been providing astounding images of the universe since April 1990 and has led to remarkable discoveries. NASA's James Webb Space Telescope is the next-generation telescope that will peer even deeper into space and unveil even more mysteries. Both of these extraordinary telescopes are now the topics of two free e-books available from the Apple iBookstore.