space
Amateur Astronomer Spots Supernova Right as It Begins

Amateur astronomer Victor Buso was testing his camera-telescope setup in Argentina back in September 2016, pointing his Newtonian telescope at a spiral galaxy called NGC613. He collected light from the galaxy for the next hour and a half, taking short exposures to keep out the Santa Fe city lights. When he looked at his images, he realised he’d captured a potential supernova—an enormous flash of light and energy bursting off of a distant star. Read More >>

space
New Results Challenge Basic Ideas of Supermassive Black Holes

Galaxies have supermassive black holes at their centres—our Milky Way, for example, has its own 4-million-solar-mass one, Sagittarius A*. Some astronomers have previously thought that there’s a simple relationship between the galaxy’s size, the black hole’s mass, and how much light the black hole spits out while it eats up the things surrounding it. But a pair of papers studying the biggest star-eating behemoths imaginable seems to bust up that assumption. Read More >>

science
Scientists Are Hunting for the ‘Dark Photon’—a Portal to the Dark Universe

It appears that the Universe is full of dark matter—around six times more of it than there is regular matter. It has obvious visible effects, like the way it bends light from distant galaxies. Despite dedicated searches, no signs of a dark matter particle explaining these effects have turned up. Read More >>

space
New Horizons Just Set a Record for Taking the Furthest Photographs Away From Earth

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is now 3.79 billion miles from Earth, or around 41 times the distance between the Earth and the Sun, and far beyond the orbit of Neptune. Using its Long Range Reconnaissance Imager, it snapped these images of Kuiper Belt Objects 2012 HZ84 (left) and 2012 HE85 (right)—and they’re the furthest images ever taken away from Earth. Read More >>

space
NASA Has Officially Listed Musk’s Tesla Roadster as a Celestial Object

You may remember that, as a publicity stunt, SpaceX propelled a red Tesla, driven by a dummy in a spacesuit named Starman with the words “DON’T PANIC” written on the control panel, into space using its Falcon Heavy rocket. That car is now a permanent advertisement on the NASA HORIZONS directory of solar system bodies. Read More >>

space
Incredible New Universe Simulation Is the Most Advanced of Its Kind

We’re probably not living in a computer simulation, despite some people’s insistence to the contrary. But that doesn’t mean we can’t create our own awe-inspiring simulations of the universe. Read More >>

space
Space-Based Gravitational Wave Observatory Passes Huge Test

Gravitational waves may be the most exciting thing in astronomy right now, but there are only so many things in space that scientists can study with Earth-based gravitational wave detectors. An incredible new test has demonstrated that space-based detectors could become a reality, which could open our ears to entirely new sources of gravitational waves. Read More >>

space
Scientists Find Evidence of Thousands of Planets in Distant Galaxy

Until now, scientists haven’t detected any planets outside of our own Milky Way Galaxy—it’s simply been too difficult to discern such small things from so far away. That should make you wonder: are there any planets outside the Milky Way? A new paper might be able to answer that question. Read More >>

space
Scientists Spot One of the Oldest Stars in the Milky Way

Meet J0815+4729. If it were a Pokémon, it would be kind of like the Milky Way’s level-three Rattata. Read More >>

science
Synchronised Galactic Orbit Challenges Our Best Theory of How the Universe Works

Scientists thought the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies were unique: They’ve got rings of smaller dwarf galaxies orbiting in what seems to be a synchronised fashion. But when a team of scientists recently looked at another galaxy, they realised it also seemed to shepherd a flock of dwarfs in a strange, synchronised dance. That’s not supposed to happen. Read More >>

space
What’s the Speed of Dark Matter?

Based on physicists’ measurements, most of the mass in the universe is actually taken up by dark matter. Whatever this stuff is, we can see its effects on the behaviour of distant galaxies, though no experiment has detected it here on Earth. Doing so probably requires knowing how fast it moves. Read More >>

space
‘Potentially Hazardous Asteroid’ Does Not Mean What You Think It Does

In some industries, sex sells. In the science journalism industry, however, potentially killer asteroids sell even more. Due to a quirk of how NASA refers to the many asteroids it tracks, countless headlines like these fill Google News every month: “Massive and Potentially Dangerous Asteroid Will Approach Earth Tonight”; “‘Potentially Hazardous’ Asteroid to Pass by Earth on Super Bowl Sunday.” Those aren’t tabloids—they’re from Newsweek and New York Magazine, respectively. The problem is, NASA’s definition of “potentially hazardous” isn’t the same as the general public’s. Read More >>

space
We Might Need to Redefine ‘Planet’ Again

You may think you know what a planet is, but celestial bodies often refuse to fully comply with our artificial human labels. We all thought tiny Pluto was a planet, until the 2006 vote in which the International Astronomical Union (IAU) redefinition stripped it of its title. But when is something officially too big to be called a planet? Read More >>

space
This Picture of Jupiter’s Swirly Blue Pole Is Magnificent

I’m not usually one of those “check out this beautiful planet photo” people (JK, I am). But seriously, the images coming from the citizen scientists looking at Juno data are all incredible. I’m not sure how this latest one can even be real. Read More >>

space
NASA Runs Successful First Tests of Compact Nuclear Reactor for Mars Base

If humans have any hope of sticking around on Mars for longer than a few days, they’ll need some form of power to sustain themselves. A successful test in Nevada has demonstrated that that power could be nuclear. Read More >>