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  • News

    100 years ago, an eclipse proved Einstein right. Today, black holes do too — for now

    A century ago, British astronomer Arthur Stanley Eddington and his colleagues photographed a solar eclipse, and changed the way humankind thought about the heavens.

    Those photographs, taken on May 29, 1919, from Sobral, Brazil and Príncipe Island off Africa’s west coast, affirmed for the first time a key prediction of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity: Mass bends spacetime....

    05/29/2019 - 06:00 Physics, Astronomy
  • News

    Big black holes can settle in the outskirts of small galaxies

    CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Big galaxies like the Milky Way have correspondingly big black holes. But small galaxies might have massive ones, too. A new survey picked up dozens of massive black hole candidates in diminutive dwarf galaxies.

    Surprisingly, some of those potential black holes aren’t at their galaxy’s center, but instead appear to roam the outskirts, astronomer Amy Reines said May 20...

    05/23/2019 - 10:57 Physics, Astronomy
  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers were curious about green icebergs, aliens and more

    Going green

    Researchers found iron oxides trapped in a sample of green Antarctic ice. The compounds may explain why typically blue-hued icebergs can sometimes appear green, Jeremy Rehm reported in “Tiny bits of iron may explain why some icebergs are green” (SN: 3/30/19, p. 12).

    “Since icebergs can drift for thousands of miles, and because iron is a limiting nutrient for algae, I...

    05/11/2019 - 07:00 Ecology, Astronomy, Health
  • News

    Dying stars called collapsars may forge much of the universe’s gold

    The gold in your favorite jewelry could be the messy leftovers from a newborn black hole’s first meal.

    Heavy elements such as gold, platinum and uranium might be formed in collapsars — rapidly spinning, massive stars that collapse into black holes as their outer layers explode in a rare type of supernova. A disk of material, swirling around the new black hole as it feeds, can create the...

    05/08/2019 - 13:02 Astronomy, Physics
  • News

    What a nearby kilonova would look like

    If two dense neutron stars collided relatively close to Earth, the resulting kilonova would shine day and night with the brightness of the moon squeezed into a small dot.

    “At night, it would be by far the brightest thing up there,” says physicist Imre Bartos of the University of Florida in Gainesville, who describes what the bright burst would look like in a study posted May 7 at arXiv....

    05/08/2019 - 09:16 Physics, Astronomy
  • News

    LIGO is on the lookout for these 8 sources of gravitational waves

    Seekers of gravitational waves are on a cosmic scavenger hunt.

    Since the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory turned on in 2015, physicists have caught these ripples in spacetime from several exotic gravitational beasts — and scientists want more.

    This week, LIGO and its partner observatory Virgo announced five new possible gravitational wave detections in a...

    05/06/2019 - 13:14 Physics, Astronomy
  • News in Brief

    LIGO and Virgo made 5 likely gravitational wave detections in a month

    Gravitational wave sightings are now a weekly occurrence.

    It took decades of work to find the first set of ripples in spacetime, detected in 2015 (SN: 3/5/16, p. 6). But now, just a month after reviving the search with newly revamped detectors, scientists with the LIGO and Virgo gravitational wave observatories have already made five potential sightings of the tiny, elusive tremors.

    ...
    05/02/2019 - 13:41 Physics, Astronomy
  • News

    Skepticism grows over whether the first known exomoon exists

    Hopes that astronomers found a moon orbiting a planet outside our solar system may be slowly dimming.

    Two different groups of researchers took another look at data to search for a telltale dip in starlight that could suggest a moon was passing in front of the star Kepler 1625. Their conflicting results raise questions about whether the exomoon exists.

    “When I reanalyzed the data, I...

    04/30/2019 - 12:30 Astronomy, Planetary Science
  • Editor's Note

    Seeing very far away and hitting closer to home

    The big science news of this issue, and so far this year, is the first-ever view of a black hole, announced at 9:07 a.m. April 10 by the Event Horizon Telescope collaboration, an international effort that linked radio telescopes around the globe to create a planet-sized “camera.” This issue of Science News went to press that very afternoon, and we had a marvelous time making sure the...
    04/23/2019 - 06:30 Astronomy, Physics, Psychology
  • News

    The M87 black hole image showed the best way to measure black hole masses

    The measure of a black hole is what it does with its stars.

    That’s one lesson astronomers are taking from the first-ever picture of a black hole, released on April 10 by an international telescope team (SN Online: 4/10/19). That image confirmed that the mass of the supermassive black hole in the center of galaxy M87 is close to what astronomers expected from how nearby stars orbit —...

    04/22/2019 - 06:00 Physics, Astronomy