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  • 50 Years Ago

    Before moon landings, scientists thought dust or crust might disrupt touchdown

    Moon surface safe? — Both the unmanned Surveyor spacecraft and the two-man Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) will be able to land safely on the moon without breaking through the crust or sinking down out of sight in a layer of dust, some scientists now...

    04/19/2015 - 08:00 Planetary Science, Science & Society
  • News in Brief

    A look back in time reveals Milky Way’s evolution

    A compilation of over 2,000 galaxies gives insights into the history of the Milky Way. By looking at progressively more distant galaxies, astronomers have gazed back in time to create a flip-book documenting how our galaxy has changed over most of the universe’s 13.8-billion-year history.

    By the time the universe was about 3 billion years old, galaxies like the Milky Way were already...

    04/17/2015 - 11:14 Astronomy
  • News

    X-rays offer early warning for solar flares

    Outpourings of X-rays can reveal when the sun is prepping a big outburst, new research suggests.

    Researchers analyzed the X-rays shot out by the sun before and during roughly 50,000 solar explosions, called flares. The researchers discovered that the flood of X-rays preceding a solar flare can be used to determine the flare’s ultimate intensity. The most intense flares fling particles...

    04/17/2015 - 07:00 Astronomy
  • Science Ticker

    The moon is about as old as we thought it was

    Many, many moons ago, a proto-planet the size of Mars slammed into early Earth. In its wake, the collision left a planetary disk that formed the moon and sent bits of proto-planet flying into our solar system’s main asteroid belt. The collision occurred around 4.47 billion years ago, researchers report in the April 17 ...

    04/17/2015 - 06:00 Planetary Science, Earth
  • News in Brief

    Ringing rings reveal Saturn’s innards

    BALTIMORE — Saturn is surrounded by a vast seismometer: its rings. Recently detected ripples in the gas giant’s rings carry signatures of the planet’s interior structure, offering new insights into what lies far beneath Saturn’s cloud tops. “It’s the first useful seismology on another planet,” says Jim Fuller, a theoretical astrophysicist at Caltech. His...

    04/16/2015 - 17:04 Astronomy
  • News

    Galactic split provides clue to dark matter mystery

    A cosmic collision has somehow separated a galaxy from its dark matter, the mysterious invisible stuff that typically dominates a galaxy’s mass. The dark matter may be lagging behind its host galaxy because another clump of dark matter slowed it down. If so, it would be the first evidence that dark matter interacts through a force other than gravity.

    “It’s exciting to wonder if it could...

    04/14/2015 - 19:05 Astronomy, Cosmology
  • Science Ticker

    Map pinpoints location of invisible dark matter

    BALTIMORE — Dark matter can’t be seen, but a new map shows where it’s hiding. Released April 13 at a meeting of the American Physical Society, the map confirms that the mysterious matter is concentrated in regions that contain a lot of ordinary matter in the form of galaxy clusters.

    Scientists with the Dark Energy Survey created the map by...

    04/14/2015 - 15:05 Astronomy, Cosmology
  • Science Ticker

    Atmospheric water may be giving Saturn its spots

    Every 20 to 30 years, Saturn gets hit with a giant thunderstorm. Such storms, dubbed “Great White Spots,” cover the planet and have been observed since 1876. Moisture in the planet’s atmosphere may be suppressing normal storm formation for decades at a time, so when conditions allow, the storms that form are enormous, researchers ...

    04/14/2015 - 10:57 Planetary Science
  • News in Brief

    Comet 67P shows no sign of magnetism

    If astronauts ever go on a walkabout around a comet, they can leave their compasses at home. Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, which the Rosetta spacecraft has been orbiting since August (SN: 9/6/14, p. 8), has no detectable magnetic field, researchers...

    04/14/2015 - 06:00 Planetary Science
  • News in Brief

    Afterglow alerts astronomers to gamma-ray burst

    BALTIMORE — An incredibly energetic explosion in the cosmos has been discovered via its not-so-energetic afterglow. Each year, astronomers observe several hundred of these explosions, known as gamma-ray bursts, but this marks the first time they spotted a burst’s remnant radiance before detecting the burst itself. The finding,...

    04/13/2015 - 17:27 Astronomy