Unless you are a recent arrival from another universe, you’ve no doubt heard that this one is expanding. It’s getting bigger all the time. What’s more, its growth rate is accelerating. Every day, the universe expands a little bit faster than it did the day before.
Those day-to-day differences are negligible, though, for astronomers trying to measure the universe’s expansion rate. They...
News in Brief
OXON HILL, Md. — Future spacecraft could navigate by the light of dead stars.
Using only the timing of radiation bursts from pulsating stellar corpses, an experiment on the International Space Station was able to pinpoint its location in space in a first-ever demonstration. The technique operates like a stellar version of GPS, researchers with the Station Explorer for X-ray Timing and...
OXON HILL, Md. — Observations of a trio of dead stars have confirmed that a foundation of Einstein’s gravitational theory holds even for ultradense objects with strong gravitational fields.
The complex orbital dance of the three former stars conforms to a rule known as the strong equivalence principle, researchers reported January 10 at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society....
OXON HILL, Md. — Even as technological advances allow astronomers to peer more deeply into the cosmos than ever before, new technologies also have the potential to create blinding pollution.
Three sources of pollution — space debris, radio interference and light pollution — already are particularly worrisome. And the situation is getting worse. In the next two decades, as many as 20,000...
View the video
OXON HILL, Md. — Ever wonder what it would be like to sit at the center of the Milky Way and watch the galaxy swirl by? A video debuted in a January 10 news conference at the American Astronomical Society Meeting provides a glimpse.
The 360-degree-simulation, made with data from several telescopes, including NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the European Southern...
OXON HILL, Md. — Fast radio bursts could come from a turbulent home. At least one source of these bright, brief blasts of radio energy may be a young neutron star assisted by a nearby massive black hole, new research suggests.
“The biggest mystery around fast radio bursts is how such powerful and short-duration bursts are emitted,” says astronomer Daniele Michilli of the University of...
Letters to the Editor
Species shmecies01/10/2018 - 12:37 Evolution, Technology, Astronomy
In “Defining ‘species’ is a fuzzy art” (SN: 11/11/17, p. 22), Susan Milius asked scientists to define “species.” Schoolbooks may define the concept as a group of organisms that create fertile offspring when mating with each other but not when mating with outsiders. But for researchers specializing in the topic, a single definition is hard to come by.
“It seems to me...
If this issue is any clue, 2018 may be the Year of Space. Our pages are packed with a surprising wealth of content for astronomy lovers, and anyone who dreams of otherworldly encounters.01/10/2018 - 12:32 Science & Society, Astronomy, Climate
In our cover story, astronomy writer Lisa Grossman reports on the race to Mars. SpaceX announced last year that it plans to get people to the Red Planet by 2024, but the battle over what humans’...
Astronomers have probed the inner life of a dead star. Tiny changes in a white dwarf’s brightness reveal that the stellar corpse has more oxygen in its core than expected, researchers report online January 8 in Nature. The finding could challenge theories of how stars live and die, and may have implications for measuring the expansion of the universe.
As a star ages, it sheds most of its...
News in Brief
The first observations of Tabby’s star flickering in real time have put the last nails in the “it’s-an-alien-megastructure” coffin.
The star’s most recent winks show that the dimming is from small dust particles surrounding it, a team of more than 200 scientists and amateur astronomers reports in a paper posted at arXiv.org January 3.
The oddball star, officially named KIC 8462852...