A recent and famous image from deep space marks the first time we've seen a forming planetary system. A team of astrophysicists found that circular gaps in a disk of dust and gas swirling around the young star HL Tau are in fact made by forming planets.
Astronomers have detected wildly changing temperatures on a super Earth - the first time any atmospheric variability has been observed on a rocky planet outside the solar system - and believe it could be due to huge amounts of volcanic activity, further adding to the mystery of what had been nicknamed the 'diamond planet'.
A team of highly determined high school students discovered a never-before-seen pulsar by painstakingly analyzing data from the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT). Further observations by astronomers using the GBT revealed that this pulsar has the widest orbit of any around a neutron star and is part of only a handful of double neutron star systems.
The NameExoWorlds contest, organised by the IAU and Zooniverse, is now entering its next stage. The 20 most popular ExoWorlds have been made available for naming proposals from registered clubs and non-profit organisations.
Groundbreaking images of the Sun captured by scientists at Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO) give a first-ever detailed view of the interior structure of umbrae - the dark patches in the center of sunspots - revealing dynamic magnetic fields responsible for the plumes of plasma that emerge as bright dots interrupting their darkness.
The famous sunspots on the surface of the Earth's star result from the dynamics of strong magnetic fields, and their numbers are an important indicator of the state of activity on the Sun. Researchers have been conducting multifractal analysis into the changes in the numbers of sunspots. The resulting graphs were surprisingly asymmetrical in shape, suggesting that sunspots may be involved in hitherto unknown physical processes.
A team of astronomers using ground-based telescopes in Hawaii, California, and Arizona recently discovered a planetary system orbiting a nearby star that is only 54 light-years away. All three planets orbit their star at a distance closer than Mercury orbits the sun, completing their orbits in just 5, 15, and 24 days.
It was unprecedented developing a mission that could fly four identically equipped spacecraft in a tight formation and take measurements 100 times faster than any previous space mission - an achievement enabled in part by four NASA-developed technologies that in some cases took nearly 10 years to mature.
How soon after the Big Bang could water have existed? Not right away, because water molecules contain oxygen and oxygen had to be formed in the first stars. Then that oxygen had to disperse and unite with hydrogen in significant amounts. New theoretical work finds that despite these complications, water vapor could have been just as abundant in pockets of space a billion years after the Big Bang as it is today.