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  • News

    Skepticism grows over whether the first known exomoon exists

    Hopes that astronomers found a moon orbiting a planet outside our solar system may be slowly dimming.

    Two different groups of researchers took another look at data to search for a telltale dip in starlight that could suggest a moon was passing in front of the star Kepler 1625. Their conflicting results raise questions about whether the exomoon exists.

    “When I reanalyzed the data, I...

    04/30/2019 - 12:30 Astronomy, Planetary Science
  • News in Brief

    Pictures confirm Hayabusa2 made a crater in asteroid Ryugu

    Hayabusa2 has successfully blasted a crater into the asteroid Ryugu. On April 25 Japan time, the spacecraft flew over the spot where it had dropped a projectile three weeks earlier and took pictures of the impact (SN Online: 4/5/19).

    “We have confirmed that an artificial crater was created,” JAXA, Japan’s space agency, reports based on a comparison of before and after images. “The size...

    04/26/2019 - 12:09 Planetary Science
  • News

    This is the slowest radioactive decay ever spotted

    For the first time, researchers have directly observed an exotic type of radioactive decay called two-neutrino double electron capture.

    The decay, seen in xenon-124 atoms, happens so sparingly that it would take 18 sextillion years (18 followed by 21 zeros) for a sample of xenon-124 to shrink by half, making the decay extremely difficult to detect. The long-anticipated observation of two...

    04/24/2019 - 13:00 Particle Physics, Physics, Chemistry
  • News in Brief

    NASA’s Mars InSight lander may have the first recording of a Marsquake

    Let’s get ready to rumble: NASA may have just captured the first recording of an earthquake on Mars. On April 6, the Mars InSight lander’s seismometer recorded a short series of howls, grumbles and pings. One of those sounds — a grumble — is probably a Marsquake, representing the first recorded sound from the interior of the Red Planet, scientists say.

    The recording, released by NASA...

    04/23/2019 - 17:59 Planetary Science
  • Editor's Note

    Seeing very far away and hitting closer to home

    The big science news of this issue, and so far this year, is the first-ever view of a black hole, announced at 9:07 a.m. April 10 by the Event Horizon Telescope collaboration, an international effort that linked radio telescopes around the globe to create a planet-sized “camera.” This issue of Science News went to press that very afternoon, and we had a marvelous time making sure the...
    04/23/2019 - 06:30 Astronomy, Physics, Psychology
  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers ponder Opportunity’s future, animal consciousness and more

    Lost Opportunity

    NASA’s Opportunity rover explored Mars for more than a decade until a dust storm last year led to its demise, Lisa Grossman reported in “After 15 years on Mars, it’s the end of the road for Opportunity” (SN: 3/16/19, p. 7).

    Reddit users had a lot of questions about the rover, nicknamed Oppy. scazon wanted to know why the estimated life spans for Opportunity and...

    04/23/2019 - 06:15 Planetary Science, Neuroscience, Biophysics
  • News in Brief

    Mercury has a massive solid inner core

    The smallest planet in our solar system has a massive solid inner core.

    In its final trip around Mercury before crash-landing in 2015, NASA’s MESSENGER mission zoomed in close to the planet, enabling scientists to make detailed measurements of its gravity, spin and internal structure. Those data, researchers report April 10 in Geophysical Research Letters, suggest Mercury has a solid...

    04/22/2019 - 09:58 Planetary Science
  • News

    The M87 black hole image showed the best way to measure black hole masses

    The measure of a black hole is what it does with its stars.

    That’s one lesson astronomers are taking from the first-ever picture of a black hole, released on April 10 by an international telescope team (SN Online: 4/10/19). That image confirmed that the mass of the supermassive black hole in the center of galaxy M87 is close to what astronomers expected from how nearby stars orbit —...

    04/22/2019 - 06:00 Physics, Astronomy
  • News

    The first type of molecule to form in the universe has been seen in space

    Helium hydride ions, thought to be the first type of molecule to form in the universe, have finally been spotted in space.

    These charged molecules, each made of a neutral helium atom and a positively charged hydrogen atom, first emerged within about 100,000 years after the Big Bang. Back then, the universe was composed almost entirely of hydrogen and helium, and helium hydride was the...

    04/17/2019 - 13:00 Chemistry, Astronomy
  • News

    A 2014 meteor may have come from another solar system

    Earth may already have been visited by an object from outside our solar system — a meteor that burned up in the planet’s atmosphere in 2014, astronomers claim. If confirmed, it would be the first known interstellar object to have entered the atmosphere.

    The first interstellar visitor known to have come close to Earth was the roughly 400-meter-wide asteroid named ‘Oumuamua. It swooped...

    04/16/2019 - 14:29 Planetary Science