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  • News

    Nearby galaxy might explain what tore apart universe’s hydrogen

    A nearby galaxy is leaking clues about one of the biggest makeovers in the history of the universe. New observations show that tiny galaxies in the early universe could have triggered the epoch of reionization — a period when harsh radiation tore apart hydrogen atoms — which astronomers consider key to understanding how stars and galaxies arose from the universe’s early dark void.

    “...

    10/10/2014 - 09:03 Astronomy, Cosmology
  • The –est

    Water found on Neptune-sized world

    The smallest, coolest exoplanet known to host water is roughly the size of Neptune, astronomers report in the Sept. 25 Nature. Previously, researchers had found water only on exoplanets that are about the size of Jupiter. The planet HAT-P-11b is just over four times as wide as Earth.

    Jonathan Fraine, an astronomer at the University of Maryland in College Park, and colleagues discovered...

    09/24/2014 - 13:00 Exoplanets, Astronomy
  • News

    Galaxy seed found from 3 billion years after Big Bang

    Even the mightiest galaxies start life as a small seed. Now researchers think they’ve identified a sprouting seed of a giant elliptical galaxy, churning out new stars just 3 billion years after the Big Bang. The discovery could help astronomers understand how the most massive galaxies in the universe are built.

    Giant elliptical galaxies are big and boring. These nearly featureless...

    06/23/2014 - 08:47 Astronomy
  • Science Ticker

    Tiny galaxies had big influence on early universe

    Guest post by Christopher Crockett

    When it comes to galaxies, the little guys do a lot of the work. Dwarf galaxies, amorphous blobs of only tens of millions of stars, were cranking out nearly a third of the new stars in the universe from about 8 billion to 10 billion years ago, according to new research posted June 17 on arXiv.org.

    Previous research into star formation in the early...

    06/20/2014 - 14:45
  • News in Brief

    Hubble space telescope spies teenage galaxies

    BOSTON — The distant universe just got a new dash of color. Ultraviolet images from the Hubble Space Telescope reveal star birth in galaxies that existed 5 billion to 10 billion years ago. The new images can help researchers reconstruct how galaxies grew to form the variety of shapes and sizes seen today.

    There’s been a gap in astronomers’ understanding of galaxy growth, said Harry...

    06/09/2014 - 15:58 Astronomy
  • Science Ticker

    El Gordo galaxy cluster as hefty as 3 million billion suns

    The galaxy cluster El Gordo, which is Spanish for “the fat one," is roughly 43 percent more massive than earlier estimates, Hubble data show.

    Astronomers made the new mass estimate by watching how strongly the gravity of the galaxy cluster distorted the light of objects behind it. El Gordo, which is 9.7 billion light-years from Earth in the constellation Phoenix, had enough pull to weigh...

    04/08/2014 - 11:52 Astronomy
  • Feature

    Cosmic question mark

    For as long as humans have wondered about it, the universe has concealed its vital statistics — its age, its weight, its size, its composition. By the opening of the 21st century, though, experts began trumpeting a new era of precision cosmology. No longer do cosmologists argue about whether the universe is 10 billion or 20 billion years old — it was born 13.8 billion years ago. Pie charts now...

    03/21/2014 - 14:37 Cosmology, Astronomy
  • News in Brief

    Galaxy drags trail of stars behind it

    It’s raining stars in the Norma galaxy cluster.

    ESO 137-001, a galaxy 200 million light-years away in the constellation Triangulum Australe, drags along filaments of gas and stars as it plows through the cluster. The star streams are 260,000 light-years long — more than twice the length of our galaxy. The streams form when ESO 137 slams into hot gas. Wind from the gas sweeps away debris...

    03/07/2014 - 13:52 Astronomy
  • Science Ticker

    Asteroid disintegrates while spinning too fast

    Guest post by Christopher Crockett

    Asteroid P/2013 R3 is shattering into a cloud of debris in these images captured by the Hubble Space Telescope.

    Unlike comets, which crumble as pressure builds from sublimating ice, this asteroid appears to be spinning itself to death. Subtle pressure from a million years of sunlight gradually spun up the space rock until it was rotating too fast...

    03/07/2014 - 11:59 Planetary Science, Astronomy
  • News

    Old stars gleaned neighbors’ gas, Hubble data show

    Stealing keeps some stars looking young. The thieves, called blue stragglers, swipe material from a neighbor, leaving behind a dead stellar companion as a calling card, data from the Hubble Space Telescope show.

    Natalie Gosnell, an astronomer at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and her colleagues discovered three blue stragglers that share orbits with white dwarfs, the remnants of...

    02/06/2014 - 16:04 Astronomy