Popular Science articles about Astronomy & Space

This illustration highlights the principal features of Swift J1644+57 and summarizes what astronomers have discovered about it.

Fingering the culprit that polluted the Solar System

For decades it has been thought that a shock wave from a supernova explosion triggered the formation of our Solar System. According to this theory, the shock wave also injected...

2 Solar System puzzles solved

Comets and asteroids preserve the building blocks of our Solar System and should help explain its origin. But there are unsolved puzzles. For example, how did icy comets obtain particles...

Solar corona revealed in super-high-definition

These photos of the solar corona, or million-degree outer atmosphere, show the improvement in resolution offered by NASA's High Resolution Coronal Imager, or Hi-C (bottom), versus the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly on NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (top). Both images show a portion of the sun's surface roughly 85,000 by 50,000 miles in size. Hi-C launched on a sounding rocket on July 11, 2012 in a flight that lasted about 10 minutes. The representative-color images were made from observations of ultraviolet light at a wavelength of 19.3 nanometers (25 times shorter than the wavelength of visible light).Astronomers have just released the highest-resolution images ever taken of the Sun's corona, or million-degree outer atmosphere, in an extreme-ultraviolet wavelength of light. The 16-megapixel images were captured by NASA's...

Astronomers report the earliest spiral galaxy ever seen, a shocking discovery

Astronomers have witnessed for the first time a spiral galaxy in the early universe, billions of years before many other spiral galaxies formed. In findings reported July 19 in the...

The electric atmosphere: Plasma is next NASA science target

Two giant donuts of charged particles called the Van Allen Belts surround Earth.Our day-to-day lives exist in what physicists would call an electrically neutral environment. Desks, books, chairs and bodies don't generally carry electricity and they don't stick to magnets. But life...

Solar storm protection

This is the University of Delaware's "outside" neutron monitor at the South Pole. UD currently operates nine neutron monitors -- three in Antarctica (one inside and one outside South Pole Station, and one at McMurdo Station) and six in northern climes. The first neutron monitor installed at the South Pole has been in operation almost continuously since 1964.Massive explosions on the sun unleash radiation that could kill astronauts in space.

Peering into the heart of a supernova

This image shows the inner regions of a collapsing, rapidly spinning massive star. The colors indicate entropy, which roughly corresponds to heat: Red regions are very hot, while blue regions are cold. The black arrows indicate the direction of the flow of stellar material. The two white curves with black outlines indicate the neutrino (top) and gravitational-wave (bottom) signals. This frame shows a simulation about 10.5 milliseconds after the stellar core has become a dense proto-neutron star.

A video of the simulation can be found at <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HdZOeMadCxU">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HdZOeMadCxU</a>.Each century, about two massive stars in our own galaxy explode, producing magnificent supernovae. These stellar explosions send fundamental, uncharged particles called neutrinos streaming our way and ...

Sounds of northern lights are born close to ground

For the first time, researchers at Aalto University in Finland have located where the sounds associated with the northern lights are created. The auroral sounds that have been described in...

Another M-class flare from Sunspot 1515

The Solar Dynamics Observatory captured this image of the sun during an M6.1 flare that peaked at 7:44 AM EDT on July 5, 2012. The image is shown in the 304 Angstrom wavelength, which is typically colorized in red.Active Region 1515 has now spit out 12 M-class flares since July 3. Early in the morning of July 5, 2012 there was an M6.1 flare. It peaked at 7:44...

Astronomers discover Houdini-like vanishing act in space

Astronomers report a baffling discovery never seen before: An extraordinary amount of dust around a nearby star has mysteriously disappeared.

Supernova progenitor found?

Type Ia supernovae are violent stellar explosions. Observations of their brightness are used to determine distances in the universe and have shown scientists that the cosmos is expanding at an accelerating rate. But there is still too little known about...

NASA X-ray concept inspired from a roll of Scotch® tape

Principal Investigator Maxim Markevitch is using R&D funding to pursue the feasibility of fashioning a low-cost X-ray mirror from plastic tape and tightly rolling it like the sticky adhesive ubiquitous in most homes and offices. The whiteboard drawing shows the shape of the X-ray mirror roll.The inspiration behind NASA scientist Maxim Markevitch's quest to build a highly specialized X-ray mirror using a never-before-tried technique comes from an unusual source: a roll of Scotch® tape.

New clues to the early Solar System from ancient meteorites

In order to understand Earth's earliest history--its formation from Solar System material into the present-day layering of metal core and mantle, and crust--scientists look to meteorites. New research from a...

River networks on Titan point to a puzzling geologic history

New findings suggest the surface of Saturn's largest moon may have undergone a recent transformation. For many years, Titan's thick, methane- and nitrogen-rich atmosphere kept astronomers from seeing what lies...

NRL brings inertia of space to robotics research

Precision honed to within +/-0.0018 inches tolerance across its surface, the Gravity Offset Table (shown right) will allow scientists to emulate the inertia of space in the laboratory using full-size spacecraft and robotic arms like the Front-End Robotic Enabling Near-Term Demonstration (FREND) arm pictured center.The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Spacecraft Engineering Department's space robotics research facility recently took possession of a one-of-a-kind 75,000 pound Gravity Offset Table (GOT) made from a single slab of...

NASA sees sun send out mid-level solar flare

This image was captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) on July 19, 2012, of an M7.7 class solar flare. The image represents light in the 131 Angstrom wavelength, which is particularly good for seeing flares, and which is typically colorized in teal.The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare on July 19, 2012, beginning at 1:13 AM EDT and peaking at 1:58 AM. Solar flares are gigantic bursts of radiation that cannot...

Solar system ice: Source of Earth's water

Scientists have long believed that comets and, or a type of very primitive meteorite called carbonaceous chondrites were the sources of early Earth's volatile elements -- which include hydrogen, nitrogen,...

Hubble discovers a fifth moon orbiting Pluto

This image, taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, shows five moons orbiting the distant, icy dwarf planet Pluto. The green circle marks the newly discovered moon, designated P5, as photographed by Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 on July 7. The observations will help scientists in their planning for the July 2015 flyby of Pluto by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft.A team of astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is reporting the discovery of another moon orbiting the icy dwarf planet Pluto.

Researchers create 'MRI' of the sun's interior motions

A team of scientists has created an “MRI” of the Sun’s interior plasma motions, shedding light on how it transfers heat from its deep interior to its surface. The result,...

New instrument sifts through starlight to reveal new worlds

This figure shows two images of HD 157728, a nearby star 1.5 times larger than the sun. The star is centered in both images, and its light has been mostly removed by the adaptive optics system and coronagraph. The remaining starlight leaves a speckled background against which fainter objects cannot be seen. On the left, the image was made without the ultra-precise starlight control that Project 1640 is capable of. On the right, the wavefront sensor was active, and a darker square hole formed in the residual starlight, allowing objects up to 10 million times fainter than the star to be seen. Images were taken on June 14, 2012, with Project 1640 on the Palomar Observatory's 200-inch Hale telescope.An advanced telescope imaging system that started taking data last month is the first of its kind capable of spotting planets orbiting suns outside of our solar system. The collaborative...

Sounding rocket mission to observe magnetic fields on the sun

On July 5, NASA will launch a mission called the Solar Ultraviolet Magnetograph Investigation or SUMI, to study the intricate, constantly changing magnetic fields on the sun in a hard-to-observe...