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  • News

    Saturn’s ‘ring rain’ is a surprising cocktail of chemicals

    The “ring rain” of material falling from Saturn’s rings into the planet’s atmosphere is a much more intense, contaminated downpour than scientists thought.

    For decades, astronomers have suspected that Saturn’s rings pelt the planet with grains of water ice, but some of the final observations from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft provide the first detailed views of these celestial showers (SN: 4...

    10/04/2018 - 14:00 Planetary Science, Astronomy
  • News

    Hubble may have spotted the first known exomoon

    The first suspected exomoon is coming into focus. Observations with the Hubble Space Telescope bolster the case for a Neptune-sized moon orbiting a gas exoplanet 8,000 light-years away, astronomers report October 3 in Science Advances. The moon’s existence, if confirmed, would challenge theories of how satellites are born.

    Astronomers David Kipping and Alex Teachey of Columbia University...

    10/03/2018 - 14:00 Astronomy, Exoplanets
  • Rethink

    We may not have found aliens yet because we’ve barely begun looking

    With no luck so far in a six-decade search for signals from aliens, you’d be forgiven for thinking, “Where is everyone?”

    A new calculation shows that if space is an ocean, we’ve barely dipped in a toe. The volume of observable space combed so far for E.T. is comparable to searching the volume of a large hot tub for evidence of fish in Earth’s oceans, astronomer Jason Wright at Penn State...

    09/30/2018 - 08:00 Astronomy, Astrobiology
  • Feature

    Paula Jofré makes stellar connections

    Paula Jofré, 36Galactic and stellar astrophysicsUniversidad Diego Portales, Santiago, Chile

    Paula Jofré wants to map the galactic lineage of every star in the Milky Way. It’s like tracing your family tree, if your grandparents were supernovas.

    Jofré, 36, is an astrophysicist at Universidad Diego Portales in Santiago, Chile, where she studies the inner lives and histories of stars....

    09/26/2018 - 08:31 Astronomy
  • News

    Astronomers may have spotted the birth of a neutron star

    For the first time, astronomers may have watched a massive stellar explosion give rise in real time to a superdense dead star called a neutron star.

    New observations of supernova 2012au show charged oxygen and sulfur atoms fleeing the scene of the explosion at 2,300 kilometers per second. That suggests the shells of gas surrounding the dense remains of the original star are being lit up...

    09/25/2018 - 07:00 Astronomy
  • News in Brief

    Japan has launched a miniature space elevator

    A pair of tiny satellites that will help test technology for a space elevator is on its way to the International Space Station.

    At 1:52 p.m. EDT on September 22, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency launched a rocket carrying the STARS-Me experiment from the island of Tanegashima.

    STARS-Me (or Space Tethered Autonomous Robotic Satellite – Mini elevator), built by engineers at...

    09/24/2018 - 09:50 Astronomy
  • 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