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  • News in Brief

    Maverick asteroid might be an immigrant from outside the solar system

    An asteroid that flouts the norms of the solar system might not be from around here.

    The renegade asteroid travels around the sun in reverse — in the opposite direction of the planets and most other asteroids (SN: 5/13/17, p. 5). Now two scientists suggest that’s because the space rock originated from outside the solar system, according to a paper published May 21 in Monthly Notices of...

    05/21/2018 - 08:00 Astronomy
  • News in Brief

    These stars may have been born only 250 million years after the Big Bang

    A measly 250 million years after the Big Bang, in a galaxy far, far away, what may be some of the first stars in the universe began to twinkle. If today’s 13.8-billion-year-old universe is in middle age, it would have been just starting to crawl when these stars were born.

    Researchers used instruments at the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array observatory in Chile to observe...

    05/16/2018 - 13:00 Cosmology, Astronomy
  • Feature

    The recipes for solar system formation are getting a rewrite

    With a mortar and pestle, Christy Till blends together the makings of a distant planet. In her geology lab at Arizona State University in Tempe, Till carefully measures out powdered minerals, tips them into a metal capsule and bakes them in a high-pressure furnace that can reach close to 35,000 times Earth’s atmospheric pressure and 2,000° Celsius.

    In this interplanetary test kitchen,...

    05/11/2018 - 09:00 Exoplanets, Planetary Science, Astronomy
  • News

    First 3-D map of a gas cloud in space shows it’s flat like a pancake

    For the first time, astronomers have charted the 3-D shape of a cloud of interstellar gas. The map explains why this cloud has failed to form stars so far, and could help test theories of how star formation works.

    Astrophysicists Aris Tritsis, now of the Australian National University in Canberra, and Konstantinos Tassis of the University of Crete in Heraklion, Greece, examined a narrow...

    05/10/2018 - 16:25 Astronomy
  • News

    Gaia delivers a trove of data revealing secrets of the Milky Way

    Astronomers are going gaga over Gaia.

    The April 25 release of data from the European Space Agency’s Gaia spacecraft, which cataloged nearly 1.7 billion stars, has kicked off a scientific spree, with multiple papers published online in the last two weeks at

    Charting stars in the Milky Way and beyond, Gaia surveys the entire sky. The spacecraft can measure stars’ motions...

    05/09/2018 - 07:00 Astronomy, Physics
  • News

    New ideas about how stars die help solve a decades-old mystery

    New insights into how stars like the sun die might help explain why astronomers find bright planetary nebulae where they’re least expected. Simulations of how these stellar remnants form suggest that smaller stars have cores that heat up fast enough to produce bright nebulae upon their demise, researchers report online May 7 in Nature Astronomy.

    A planetary nebula is what’s left over...

    05/07/2018 - 11:00 Astronomy
  • Reviews & Previews

    Getting NASA’s Pluto mission off the ground took blood, sweat and years

    Chasing New HorizonsAlan Stern and David GrinspoonPicador, $28

    The world tracked the New Horizons’ spacecraft with childlike glee as it flew by Pluto in 2015. The probe provided the first ever close-up of the place that many of us grew up considering the ninth planet. Pluto revealed itself as a fascinating world, with a shifting surface (SN: 12/26/15, p. 16), a hazy atmosphere (SN...

    05/06/2018 - 06:00 Planetary Science, Astronomy
  • News

    Neutron stars shed neutrinos to cool down quickly

    For some neutron stars, the quickest way to cool off isn’t with a frosty beverage, but with lightweight, subatomic particles called neutrinos.

    Scientists have spotted the first solid evidence that some neutron stars, the collapsed remnants of exploded stars, can rapidly cool their cores by emitting neutrinos. The result adds to evidence that scientists are gathering to understand the...

    05/02/2018 - 08:49 Physics, Astronomy
  • News in Brief

    The latest star map from the Gaia spacecraft plots 1.7 billion stars

    Using the precise position and brightness of almost 1.7 billion stars, the Gaia spacecraft has created the most precise 3-D map of the Milky Way yet.

    On April 25, the European Space Agency’s Gaia team released the spacecraft’s second batch of data, gathered from July 2014 to May 2016, used to create the map. The tally includes measurements of half a million quasars — the active black...

    04/25/2018 - 15:45 Astronomy
  • News in Brief

    Young galaxies are flat, but old ones are more blobby

    It’s hard to keep trim when you’re an old galaxy.

    A survey of hundreds of galaxies found a clear link between their shapes and their stars’ ages, astronomers report April 23 in Nature Astronomy. Galaxies with younger stars are more squashed into flatter shapes, while galaxies with older stars are more blobby, says astronomer Jesse van de Sande of the University of Sydney.


    04/23/2018 - 11:00 Astronomy