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  • News

    The sun’s outer atmosphere is far more complex than previously thought

    NEW ORLEANS — Despite its smooth appearance, the sun’s wispy outer atmosphere is surprisingly full of knots, whorls and blobs.

    Newly analyzed observations from NASA’s STEREO spacecraft show that the sun’s outer corona is just as complicated as the highly structured inner corona, solar physicists reported December 12 at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union. That previously...

    12/19/2017 - 13:00 Astronomy
  • News

    These weather events turned extreme thanks to human-driven climate change

    NEW ORLEANS — For the first time, scientists have definitively linked human-caused climate change to extreme weather events.

    A handful of extreme events that occurred in 2016 — including a deadly heat wave that swept across Asia — simply could not have happened due to natural climate variability alone, three new studies find. The studies were part of a special issue of the Bulletin of...

    12/14/2017 - 16:53 Climate, Earth
  • News

    Saturn’s rings are surprisingly young and may be from shredded moons

    NEW ORLEANS — Saturn’s iconic rings are a recent addition. Final data from the Cassini spacecraft, which flew between the planet and the rings this year before plunging into the gas giant’s atmosphere, show the rings are around a few hundred million years old and less massive than previously thought.

    Those findings suggest the rings are probably the remnants of at least one moon, rather...

    12/14/2017 - 15:30 Planetary Science, Astronomy
  • News in Brief

    Federal maps underestimate flood risk for tens of millions of people, scientists warn

    NEW ORLEANS — National flood maps are underestimating the risk for tens of millions of people in the United States. That’s the conclusion of researchers presenting a new study December 11 at the American Geophysical Union’s fall meeting.

    The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency estimates that about 13 million people live in a “1-in-100-year” floodplain zone, a region that has a 1...

    12/13/2017 - 15:13 Earth, Climate
  • News in Brief

    New Horizons’ next target might have a moon

    NEW ORLEANS — The New Horizons team may get more than it bargained for with its next target. Currently known as 2014 MU69, the object might, in fact, be two rocks orbiting each other — and those rocks may themselves host a small moon.

    MU69 orbits the sun in the Kuiper Belt, a region more than 6.5 billion kilometers from Earth. That distance makes it difficult to get pictures of the...

    12/12/2017 - 18:49 Astronomy, Planetary Science
  • News

    Jupiter’s massive Great Red Spot is at least 350 kilometers deep

    NEW ORLEANS — Jupiter’s Great Red Spot has deep roots. Data from the first pass of NASA’s Juno spacecraft over the incessant storm show that its clouds stretch at least 350 kilometers down into the planet’s atmosphere. That means the storm is about as deep as the International Space Station is high above the Earth.

    Juno has been orbiting Jupiter since July 4, 2016, and it made its first...

    12/12/2017 - 16:31 Planetary Science, Astronomy
  • News in Brief

    Watching this newborn island erode could tell us a lot about Mars

    NEW ORLEANS — Earth’s youngest bit of land is getting a new lease on life. When an erupting volcano birthed an island in the Pacific Ocean in late 2014, scientists thought waves would erode the island away within just a few months. Instead, new data suggest it could stick around for up to 30 years, researchers reported December 11 at a news conference at the American Geophysical Union’s fall...

    12/11/2017 - 17:48 Earth, Oceans, Planetary Science
  • News in Brief

    Saturn’s rings mess with the gas giant’s atmosphere

    NEW ORLEANS — Saturn’s mighty rings cast a long shadow on the gas giant — and not just in visible light.

    Final observations from the Cassini spacecraft show that the rings block the sunlight that charges particles in Saturn’s atmosphere. The rings may even be raining charged water particles onto the planet, researchers report online December 11 in Science and at the fall meeting of the...

    12/11/2017 - 17:38 Planetary Science