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  • News

    Nuclear pasta in neutron stars may be the strongest material in the universe

    A strand of spaghetti snaps easily, but an exotic substance known as nuclear pasta is an entirely different story.

    Predicted to exist in ultradense dead stars called neutron stars, nuclear pasta may be the strongest material in the universe. Breaking the stuff requires 10 billion times the force needed to crack steel, for example, researchers report in a study accepted in Physical Review...

    09/14/2018 - 10:49 Physics, Astronomy
  • Soapbox

    Jocelyn Bell Burnell wins big physics prize for 1967 pulsar discovery

    Jocelyn Bell Burnell first noticed the strange, repeating blip in 1967. A University of Cambridge graduate student at the time, she had been reviewing data from a radio telescope she had helped build near campus. Persistent tracking revealed the signal’s source to be something entirely unknown up to that point — a pulsar, or a rapidly spinning stellar corpse that sweeps beams of radio waves...

    09/06/2018 - 17:25 Astronomy, Science & Society
  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers’ interest piqued by Parker Solar Probe, general relativity and more

    Sunny-side up

    NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is on its way to “touch” the sun. Maria Temming reported on the mission before the August 12 launch in “NASA’s Parker probe is about to get up close and personal with the sun” (SN: 7/21/18, p. 12).

    Astronomy writer Lisa Grossman, who wrote a follow-up story, answered readers’ questions about the probe on Reddit.

    Reddit user Gildolen...

    09/06/2018 - 06:15 Astronomy, Physics, Earth
  • Editor's Note

    To boldly go where no robot explorer has gone before

    Space travel still sounds like just about the coolest thing ever, even though we have learned that it brings with it nausea, sleeplessness, radiation exposure, muscle loss, vision changes, cranky fellow explorers and the challenge of going to the bathroom in zero gravity. And that’s just with the “easy” stuff, like living on the International Space Station. Let’s not even get started...
    09/06/2018 - 06:00 Astronomy, Science & Society
  • Reviews & Previews

    ‘Accessory to War’ probes the uneasy alliance between space science and the military

    Accessory to WarNeil deGrasse Tyson and Avis LangW.W. Norton & Co., $30

    Late-night comedians skewered Vice President Mike Pence in August when he announced preliminary plans for a new branch of the U.S. military dubbed the “Space Force.” Jimmy Kimmel likened the idea to a Michael Bay action movie, while Jimmy Fallon quipped that the Space Force’s chain of command would go “E.T...

    09/04/2018 - 10:00 Astronomy, Technology, History of Science, Science & Society
  • News in Brief

    New images reveal how an ancient monster galaxy fueled furious star formation

    New images of gas churning inside an ancient starburst galaxy help explain why this galactic firecracker underwent such frenzied star formation.

    Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, or ALMA, researchers have taken the most detailed views of the disk of star-forming gas that permeated the galaxy COSMOS-AzTEC-1, which dates back to when the universe was less than 2...

    09/03/2018 - 07:00 Astronomy
  • News

    Strange gamma rays from the sun may help decipher its magnetic fields

    The sleepy sun turns out to be a factory of extremely energetic light.

    Scientists have discovered that the sun puts out more of this light, called high-energy gamma rays, overall than predicted. But what’s really weird is that the rays with the highest energies appear when the star is supposed to be at its most sluggish, researchers report in an upcoming study in Physical Review Letters...

    08/24/2018 - 13:53 Astronomy, Particle Physics
  • News

    Five things we learned from last year’s Great American Eclipse

    It’s been a year since the total solar eclipse of August 21, 2017, captured millions of imaginations as the moon briefly blotted out the sun and cast a shadow that crisscrossed the United States from Oregon to South Carolina.

    “It was an epic event by all measures,” NASA astrophysicist Madhulika Guhathakurta told a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in New Orleans in December. One...

    08/21/2018 - 14:51 Astronomy
  • News

    A galaxy 11.3 billion light-years away appears filled with dark matter

    A distant galaxy appears filled with dark matter.

    The outermost stars in the Cosmic Seagull, a galaxy 11.3 billion light-years away, race too fast to be propelled by the gravity of the galaxy’s gas and stars alone. Instead, they move as if urged on by an invisible force, indicating the hidden presence of dark matter, astrophysicist Verónica Motta of the University of Valparaíso in Chile...

    08/17/2018 - 08:00 Astronomy
  • Science Ticker

    The Parker Solar Probe has launched and is on its way to explore the sun

    NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is officially on its way to the sun.

    After a one-day delay, the probe took off into a dark, cloudy sky over Cape Canaveral, Fla., aboard a Delta IV Heavy rocket at 3:31 a.m. EDT on August 12.

    “Here we go,” said 91-year-old solar physicist Eugene Parker, the spacecraft’s namesake, as he watched the launch. Parker proposed the existence of the solar wind, a...

    08/12/2018 - 08:16 Astronomy