NASA’s Juno spacecraft will stay in its current 53-day orbit around Jupiter instead of closing into a 14-day orbit as originally planned, the Juno team announced February 17.
An issue with two helium check valves, which are tied to the spacecraft’s main engine, had scientists concerned. The valves took several minutes to open when the team pressurized the spacecraft’s propulsion system...
Science & the Public
Stormy, with a good chance of cyclones. That’s the forecast for Jupiter’s south pole — a region never seen before but quickly coming into focus with the help of citizen scientists.
Music producer Roman Tkachenko’s edited image of Jupiter’s nether regions (featured above) is a perfect example. His enhancements make the swirling cyclones and white oval storms really pop compared with the...
Astronomers have caught a star exploding just hours after light from the eruption first reached Earth. Measurements of the blast’s light suggest that the star rapidly belched gas in the run-up to its demise. That would be surprising — most scientists think the first outward sign of a supernova is the explosion itself.
“Several years ago, to catch a supernova early would mean to detect it...
Medium-weight black holes may exist after all. Astronomers say signs of a black hole with about 2,200 times the mass of the sun have been detected at the center of the star cluster 47 Tucanae. If confirmed, the discovery could hint at a new class of black holes, ones starved of gas.
“It’s notoriously challenging to observe the centers of star clusters,” says Bülent Kiziltan of the...
Some stories are just too good to let go. Ian Shelton first spotted supernova 1987A on the evening of Monday, February 23, 1987. A notice announcing the discovery appeared in the issue of Science News that went to the printer that Wednesday — and articles followed in each of the next three issues, with more than a dozen stories about the stellar explosion over the course of the year. “It’s...
In A.D. 185, Chinese records note the appearance of a “guest star” that then faded away over the span of several months. In 1572, astronomer Tycho Brahe and many others watched as a previously unknown star in the constellation Cassiopeia blasted out gobs of light and then eventually disappeared. And 30 years ago, the world witnessed a similar blaze of light from a small galaxy that orbits the...
Almost every night that the constellation Orion is visible, physicist Mark Vagins steps outside to peer at a reddish star at the right shoulder of the mythical figure. “You can see the color of Betelgeuse with the naked eye. It’s very striking, this red, red star,” he says. “It may not be in my lifetime, but one of these days, that star is going to explode.”
With a radius about 900 times...
Ian Shelton was alone at a telescope in the remote Atacama Desert of Chile. After three hours getting a picture of the Large Magellanic Cloud, a wispy galaxy that orbits the Milky Way, he was plunged into darkness. High winds had taken hold of the rolltop door in the observatory’s roof, slamming it shut.
“This was maybe telling me I should just call it a night,” says Shelton, who was a...
Two cosmic magnifying glasses are giving astronomers a glimpse of some extremely faint galaxies that existed as far back as 600 million years after the Big Bang (13.8 billion years ago). Such views suggest that tiny galaxies in the early universe played a crucial role in cosmic reionization — when ultraviolet radiation stripped electrons from hydrogen atoms in the cosmos.
WASHINGTON — Before astronomers could discover the expansion of the universe, they had to expand their minds.
When the 20th century began, astronomers not only didn’t know the universe was expanding, they didn’t even care.
“Astronomers in the late 19th century and the very start of the 20th century were very little interested in what we would call the broader universe or its...