Astronomers see huge clouds of gas orbiting supermassive black holes at the centres of galaxies. Once thought to be a relatively uniform, fog-like ring, the accreting matter instead forms clumps dense enough to intermittently dim the intense radiation blazing forth as these enormous objects condense and consume matter.
Physics students at the University of Leicester have pointed out that the huge observational satellite Envisat - which lost contact with Earth in 2012 - could potentially pose a threat similar to the events which plague Sandra Bullock in the Oscar-nominated sci-fi thriller Gravity.
A new image from ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile shows the bright star cluster Messier 7. Easily spotted with the naked eye close to the tail of the constellation of Scorpius, it is one of the most prominent open clusters of stars in the sky - making it an important astronomical research target.
collected, and most of these data are of 'marginal utility,' according to a review of exoplanet research by a Princeton University astrophysicist. The dominant methods for studying exoplanet atmospheres are not intended for planets trillions of miles from Earth. Instead, the future of exoplanet study should focus on the more difficult but comprehensive method of spectrometry.
NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has seen a fast-moving pulsar escaping from a supernova remnant while spewing out a record-breaking jet - the longest of any object in the Milky Way galaxy - of high-energy particles.
A new study explains what happens during the disruption of a normal sun-like star by a supermassive black hole. The study shows why observers might fail to see evidence of the hydrogen in the star, casting doubt on a 2012 report of the disruption of an exotic helium star.
Squinting close to the beginning of time, astronomers have discovered an association of gas-rich galaxies near the infancy of cosmic time. It's an early epoch - some 12.7 billion years ago - telling a tale that revolves around an exceptionally dusty galaxy called AzTEC-3.
Scientists on NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer mission, including a team leader from the University of New Hampshire, report that recent, independent measurements have validated one of the mission's signature findings - a mysterious 'ribbon' of energy and particles at the edge of our solar system that appears to be a directional 'roadmap in the sky' of the local interstellar magnetic field.
Signals bounced off reflectors on the lunar surface return surprisingly faint echoes on full moon nights. Scientists think it's the result of uneven heating of the reflective lenses, which would alter their refractive index, dispersing the return beam, and they found compelling evidence for this explanation during an eclipse as Earth's shadow passed over each reflector in turn.
Scientists have solved a major problem with the current standard model of cosmology identified by combining results from the Planck spacecraft and measurements of gravitational lensing in order to deduce the mass of ghostly sub-atomic particles called neutrinos.
Scientists who study Earth, the sun and stars have long used high-altitude scientific balloons to carry their telescopes far into the stratosphere for a better view of their targets. Not so much for planetary scientists. That's because they needed a highly stable, off-the-shelf-type system that could accurately point their instruments and then track planetary targets as they moved in the solar system. That device now exists.
A peculiar example of a celestial body, known as a brown dwarf, with unusually red skies has been discovered by a team of astronomers from the University of Hertfordshire's Centre for Astrophysics Research.
Using the Stampede, Lonestar and Ranger supercomputers, University of Texas researchers simulated the formation of the Universe from the Big Bang through the first few hundred million years of its existence. The researchers found that more realistic models of supernova blasts help explain the range of metalicity found in different galaxies. The results of the simulations will assist in guiding the James Webb Space Telescope, set to launch in 2018.