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Diamonds in the tail of the scorpion

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.

Posted: Feb 19th, 2014

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Rife with hype, exoplanet study needs patience and refinement

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.

Posted: Feb 18th, 2014

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Ancient gas-rich galaxies found in cosmic crib

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.

Posted: Feb 17th, 2014

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Scientists reveal cosmic roadmap to galactic magnetic field

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.

Posted: Feb 13th, 2014

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Source of 'moon curse' revealed by eclipse

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.

Posted: Feb 11th, 2014

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Massive neutrinos solve a cosmological conundrum

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.

Posted: Feb 10th, 2014

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WASP gives NASA's planetary scientists new observation platform

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.

Posted: Feb 8th, 2014

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Red skies discovered on extreme brown dwarf

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.

Posted: Feb 6th, 2014

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Heavy metal in the early cosmos

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.

Posted: Feb 5th, 2014

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New study finds early universe 'warmed up' later than previously believed

A new study reveals that black holes, formed from the first stars in our universe, heated the gas throughout space later than previously thought. They also imprinted a clear signature in radio waves which astronomers can now search for. The study is a major new finding about the origins of the universe.

Posted: Feb 5th, 2014

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Solving a 30-year-old problem in high mass star formation

Some 30 years ago, astronomers found that regions of ionized gas around young high mass stars remain small (under a third of a light-year) for ten times longer than they should if they were to expand as expected in simple models. Recent supercomputer simulations predicted that these regions actually flicker in brightness over this period rather than grow continuously.

Posted: Feb 5th, 2014

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