July 15th was a historic occasion as it marked the first time we were able to see close-up pictures of Pluto’s surface. Traveling at over 30,000 mph, New Horizons snapped some very interesting pictures of the dwarf planet’s surface as it came within 47 thousand miles of it, beaming back to us details never before seen. What New Horizons captured for us was a first glimpse at mountain ranges and deposits of methane & nitrogen ice.
The first validated Earth-sized planet to orbit a star in the habitable zone, Kepler-186f, has been discovered. It beats out the current most potential candidate for a world with Earth-like life which went to Kepler-62f–a planet forty percent larger than Earth, yet still residing in its own habitable zone.
Hello from the Southeastern Planetarium Association. I’m currently at the SEPA 2015 and while I’m here I participated in a brief story-telling workshop where planetarians got together to share their favorite stories of the night sky. I chose to tell the story of the largest star ever observed (so far): UY Scuti.
For over six decades, scientists have speculated that there might be structures of plasma residing in the upper atmosphere of Earth, affecting civilian and military satellite-based navigation systems. Thanks to Australian researcher, Cleo Loi, this theory has been confirmed.
I’ve always imagined that one day I’d get home, turn on the news, and see this big developing news story that evidence of life beyond our solar system had been discovered. It’s typically the stuff of movies and comic books, but recently NASA’s chief scientist, Ellen Stofan, predicted that signs of alien life will be discovered by 2025 with even stronger evidence for extraterrestrials in the years that follow.
Democritus was the first to claim that the Milky Way consisted of distant stars, but it was William Herschel in 1785 that made the first map of the Milky Way. Herschel was the first to study and measure the distribution of stars in space, and when he counted the stars he came to a conclusion that they were grouped in a huge disk formation. It is believed that this disk–our Milky Way Galaxy–is about 100,000 light years from tip to tip; however, recent evidence may suggest that it could be about 50 percent larger than we initially ever thought.
Back in 2005, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft first revealed that Saturn’s moon, Enceladus, had active geologic activity. It discovered an icy spray issuing out of the moon’s southern polar region as well as temperatures in that region that were higher than expected. Currently, it is being suggested, that there also may be a 6-mile deep, 25 mile thick, ocean beneath the moon’s icy shell.
In a galaxy far, far away (that is to say, about 12.8 billion light-years away) a supermassive black hole has been discovered that is estimated to weigh as much as 12 billion suns and is 420 trillion times brighter than the sun. But it isn’t the weight and size that is baffling scientists–it’s how young it is.
NASA released photos on Wednesday that show details that astronomers have only dreamed of: first images captured of Pluto’s moons by New Horizons probe in 2015.
The Hubble Space Telescope recently captured an image which looks remarkably like a smiling face in the sky. It is SDSS J1038+4849, a galaxy cluster that resides just outside the constellation of Ursa Major. But what makes this image look so close to a smiley face?