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  • News in Brief

    LIGO and Virgo probably spotted the first black hole swallowing up a neutron star

    Shudders in the cosmos have revealed what’s likely the sad end of a neutron star — getting swallowed by a black hole.

    If confirmed, it would be the first solid detection of this source of gravitational waves, revealing a type of cataclysm never before spotted. Researchers from the LIGO and Virgo gravitational wave observatories reported the candidate event, which was detected August 14,...

    08/15/2019 - 18:06 Astronomy, Physics
  • News in Brief

    Astronomers just quintupled the number of known repeating fast radio bursts

    Astronomers have found eight new fast radio bursts that repeatedly flash on and off.

    That haul brings the total of known repeating fast radio bursts, or FRBs, to 10, compared with the 60 or so nonrepeating FRBs that have been spotted, researchers report August 9 at Studying the cryptic bursts could reveal what phenomena cause these brief, brilliant flares of radio waves from...

    08/14/2019 - 15:10 Astronomy
  • Rethink

    A proposed space telescope would use Earth’s atmosphere as a lens

    Telescopes keep getting bigger — and more expensive. But what if there were a better way?

    One astronomer has suggested a possible work-around: Turn the entire Earth into a telescope lens by using the planet’s atmosphere to bend and focus light.

    When light from stars hits Earth’s atmosphere, the light bends, or refracts. That bending concentrates the rays, focusing them in a region...

    08/09/2019 - 11:55 Astronomy, Physics
  • News

    Exploding stars scattered traces of iron over Antarctic snow

    Iron from outside the solar system has sprinkled down on Antarctica in recent years. Measurements of half a ton of snow turned up interstellar iron deposited within the last two decades, scientists report in a study accepted in Physical Review Letters. That iron comes from the explosions of massive stars, or supernovas, the team says.

    Within the snow, the researchers isolated 10 atoms of...

    08/09/2019 - 06:00 Physics, Astronomy
  • News

    Giant, active galaxies from the early universe may have finally been found

    Astronomers may finally have laid eyes on a population of enormous but elusive galaxies in the early universe.

    These hefty, star-forming galaxies are shrouded in dust, which hid them from previous searches that used starlight. Now observations of radiation emitted by that interstellar dust have revealed dozens of massive, active galaxies from when the universe was younger than 2 billion...

    08/07/2019 - 13:00 Astronomy
  • News

    Stars may keep spinning fast, long into old age

    CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Stars may keep some of their youthful vigor as they age. Astronomers have spotted a star in its twilight years that spins much faster than expected. The discovery supports a new idea that, rather than continually slowing with age, some stars may have a magnetic midlife crisis that keeps them on a roll.

    “This process of slowing rotation … that we assumed happened...

    08/02/2019 - 06:00 Astronomy
  • Science Visualized

    A 3-D map of stars reveals the Milky Way’s warped shape

    Like a misshapen potato chip, our home galaxy is warped. A new 3-D map brings the contorted structure of the Milky Way’s disk into better view, thanks to measurements of special stars called Cepheids, scientists report in the Aug. 2 Science.

    Making 3-D measurements of the galaxy requires estimating how far away stars are from Earth, typically a matter of guesswork. But unlike other stars...

    08/01/2019 - 14:00 Astronomy
  • News in Brief

    In a first, physicists re-created the sun’s spiraling solar wind in a lab

    Physicists have created mini gusts of solar wind in the lab, with hopes that the charged particle streams can help to resolve some mysteries about our nearest star.

    “We’re not re-creating the sun, because that’s impossible,” says plasma physicist Ethan Peterson of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, who reports the new work July 29 in Nature Physics. “But we’re re-creating some of the...

    07/29/2019 - 11:00 Astronomy
  • Science Visualized

    NASA’s Chandra X-ray telescope celebrates 20 years in space

    In July 1999, NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory took off aboard the space shuttle Columbia to scan the sky in a wavelength of light invisible to human eyes. For the last 20 years, Chandra has done just that, taking in high-energy X-rays, which can be detected only from above Earth’s atmosphere.

    "Chandra remains peerless in its ability to find and study X-ray sources," Chandra X-ray Center...

    07/25/2019 - 10:33 Astronomy
  • News

    Scientists still can’t agree on the universe’s expansion rate

    SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — It’s one of the most talked-about issues in physics: Two measurements of the universe’s expansion rate disagree. Now, a technique that aimed to resolve the mismatch has produced a third estimate that falls between the previous two. So the controversy endures, scientists report in a study accepted in the Astrophysical Journal. 

    One measurement of how fast the...

    07/16/2019 - 14:01 Cosmology, Physics, Astronomy