In recent radio telescope studies, many hundreds of previously undiscovered galaxies have been found to exist in an area in which an enormous magnetic abnormality known as the "Great Attractor" is located. The new research may help shed light on why our galaxy, along with hundreds of thousands of others, is being inextricably pulled in that direction.
For the first time, astronomers have used the Hubble Space Telescope to measure the chemical composition of a vast gas cloud that is set to collide with the Milky Way. Upon impact, the Smith Cloud will act as the catalyst for a colossal burst of star creation.
The cosmos came into sharper focus this week with astronomers releasing the highest resolution astronomical image yet. The product of 15 earthbound radio telescopes and a Russian satellite, the image of a black hole in a galaxy 900 millions light years away is detailed enough to show the equivalent of a US 50-cent piece on the Moon.
In an astronomical astronomical discovery, scientists have identified what's believed to be the widest known planetary system. Situated about 104 light years from Earth, a planet that could be 15 times the size of Jupiter is in a 900,000-year orbit at a mind-boggling distance of 1 trillion km from its parent star – that's 7,000 times the distance of the Earth from the Sun.
With the number of potentially habitable exoplanets in our galaxy alone estimated to be in the billions, many wonder why we are yet to see signs or hear from intelligent alien life. A pair of astrobiologists from the Australian National University (ANU) Research School of Earth Sciences hypothesize the reason may be that ET could be long dead. According to Aditya Chopra and Charley Lineweaver, conditions on young planets are so volatile that if life doesn't evolve fast enough to stabilize the environment, it will quickly become extinct.
In a rapidly expanding universe, it can be hard for casual stargazers to keep track of all those stars, planets and constellations in the night sky. Universe2go tackles this task with a clever augmented reality headset and smartphone app package that instantly turned us into aspiring astronomers when we tried it out for this review.
Ireland has been chosen as the site for latest expansion of the world's largest connected radio telescope. The Ireland-LOFAR consortium (I-LOFAR) has been awarded grants totaling €1.9 million (US$2 million) to extend the network for the International LOFAR Telescope (ILT), in hope of providing it with a resolution rivaling that of the Hubble Space Telescope.
NASA's Dawn spacecraft has sent home the first images from its best-ever viewpoint around the dwarf planet Ceres, orbiting at an altitude of around 240 miles (385 km). The views include a chain of craters across the body's scarred surface, and two 3D snaps, viewable through red-blue glasses.
A team of astronomers has made use of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to observe four distant stars, finding the best evidence yet of massive planets forming in the surrounding disk of dust and gas. The observations, which wouldn't have been possible without the instrument, have helped scientists to confirm an existing theory on planet formation.
If you've never made a wish on a falling star, now's your chance to make up for lost time. The Geminid meteor shower, which is best viewed without a telescope and in clear, dark skies, should peak from 13 to 15
December with scores of meteors expected to shoot across the sky each hour.