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  • News

    In another universe, free-range planets could host life

    Of all possible universes, ours is probably not the only inhabitable one. Universes that start under different circumstances from our own might give rise to a wide range of exotic habitable environments, researchers suggest May 24 online at

    As if our universe weren’t large enough, some researchers speculate that it might be...

    05/29/2015 - 10:55 Astronomy, Cosmology
  • Science Ticker

    NASA picks nine instruments for future mission to Europa

    NASA is gearing up to see what’s lurking in the salty seas beneath the icy shell of Jupiter’s moon Europa. Nine instruments will fly aboard a spacecraft slated to launch sometime in the 2020s that will investigate whether or not the moon is habitable, space agency officials...

    05/26/2015 - 16:54 Planetary Science
  • The –est

    Brightest galaxy discovered

    The most luminous known galaxy blasts out as much light as roughly 350 trillion suns, researchers report in the June 1 Astrophysical Journal.

    A supermassive black hole lurking in the galaxy’s core probably powers this cosmic beacon, Chao-Wei Tsai, an astronomer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena,...

    05/26/2015 - 11:49 Astronomy
  • News

    Peeks into early life of supernovas show how to blow up a star

    There’s more than one way to explode a star. Four recently seen type 1a supernovas show off some of this diversity. One supernova hints at the gas of a partner star fueling the explosion; colliding white dwarfs — the exposed cores of dead stars — probably triggered the other three.

    The observations, described in a pair of papers in the May 21 Nature, give astronomers a rare look...

    05/20/2015 - 13:00 Astronomy
  • News

    Sea salt may stripe Europa’s surface

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    Salt from a subsurface sea on Jupiter’s moon Europa might scribble the rust-colored bands that crisscross the satellite’s icy surface.

    The salt is probably deposited on the surface by liquid water that intermingles with a rocky seabed, researchers report May 15 in ...

    05/19/2015 - 12:00 Planetary Science
  • Science Ticker

    Boulders balance on tiny tips as comet 67P zooms through space

    Balanced Rock in Arches National Park in Utah has cousins on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Three boulders — the largest of which is roughly 30 meters across — are barely in contact with the comet’s surface, researchers report May 18 on...

    05/18/2015 - 16:38 Planetary Science
  • News

    Asteroids boiled young Earth’s oceans, remnant rocks suggest

    Asteroid impacts around 3.3 billion years ago may have created hell on Earth.

    Rocks left over from Earth’s adolescence suggest that giant impacts boiled the oceans billions of years ago, lowering the global sea level by tens of meters. The huge amounts of energy released during the impacts increased air temperatures to more than 500° Celsius for weeks and above water’s boiling point for...

    05/15/2015 - 07:00 Earth, Planetary Science
  • First

    First quasar quartet discovered

    A foursome of quasars on the far side of the universe heralds the birth of a massive cluster of galaxies, researchers suggest in the May 15 Science. The light from the four blazing cores of galaxies illuminates an enormous hydrogen cloud, 1 million light-years long with the mass of 100 billion suns. The cloud...

    05/14/2015 - 14:00 Astronomy
  • Science Ticker

    New Horizons probe takes family photo of Pluto's moons

    Pluto’s family portrait (as far as we know) is complete. The New Horizons spacecraft finally spied the dwarf planet's two tiniest satellites, Kerberos and Styx, in a series of images taken from April 25 to May 1, when the probe was nearly 90 million kilometers from Pluto. The moons were ...

    05/13/2015 - 15:38 Planetary Science
  • News

    Andromeda reaches out to touch Milky Way

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    The spiral disk of the Andromeda galaxy, the Milky Way’s neighbor, is just a tiny part of a much larger entity. The visible part of the galaxy is embedded in a tenuous halo of gas about six times as large as previously measured, researchers report in the May 10 Astrophysical...

    05/12/2015 - 10:25 Astronomy