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Astronomy

Artist's impression of Kepler-47, the first confirmed binary system with multiple planets ...

It's been more than three and a half years since the Kepler Space Telescope began its mission as humanity's watcher for Earth-like planets outside of the Solar System. In that time, Kepler has done exactly what was asked of it: provide the data to help identify more than 2,300 exoplanet candidates in other star systems. And so NASA has announced the "successful completion" of Kepler's prime mission. There's one nagging detail, though: we are yet to find a truly Earth-like planet. It's time to alter the parameters of the search.  Read More

Artist's concept of the HD 40307 planetary system featuring a close-up view of HD 40307g, ...

Due to the masterful efforts of an international team of astronomers, a new super-Earth planet has been discovered within the habitable zone of a star just 42 light years from Earth. Part of a six planetary system, the super-Earth known as HD 40307g has several promising attributes in terms of its ability to support life and because of its relative proximity, it may soon be possible to observe the planet optically.  Read More

The huge 9-gigapixel image contains some 84 million stars

The European Space Observatory (ESO) has released an impressive 9-gigapixel image of the central part of the Milky Way Galaxy. The historic image contains some 84 million stars and represents the largest ever catalog of the center of our home galaxy.  Read More

Close up view of the Link outcropping (Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

NASA’s unmanned Curiosity rover has found the most direct evidence to date that ancient Mars once had running water. The robot explorer discovered rock outcroppings thrusting from the Martian surface that are the remains of an ancient stream bed consisting of water-worn gravel that was washed down from the rim of Gale Crater where the nuclear-powered rover landed. This means that Mars was once a much wetter place and increases the chances that it once harbored life ... or still does.  Read More

Light from the primordial galaxy, dubbed 'MACS 1149-JD', traveled approximately 13.2 billi...

A team of Johns Hopkins University astronomers have spotted what may well be the most distant galaxy ever detected. Dubbed "MACS 1149-JD", the discovery provides insight into the most remote epoch of cosmic history, as light captured from the faint galaxy shone forth when the universe was just 500 million years old – or 3.6 percent of its present age.  Read More

Zoomed-in image of barred spiral galaxy NGC 1365, around 60 million light years from Earth...

The Dark Energy Camera (DEC) has captured an initial batch of images as part of an ongoing quest to afford scientists with a better understanding of dark energy. The images were taken by the 570-megapixel behemoth from its location within the Chilean Andes on September 12 while undergoing a series of tests. Scientists hope it may soon help answer one of the biggest mysteries in physics: why the expansion of the universe is speeding up.  Read More

View of a cluster of galaxies spread along a dark matter filament (Photo: SDSS-III)

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) is little known to the public, but represents one of the most-challenging efforts in observational cosmology ever attempted. The most recent phase, SDSS-III, began in 2008 and includes the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS), a part of SDSS-III aimed at mapping the cosmos. Its goal is to map the physical locations of all major galaxies back to seven billion years ago, and bright quasars back to 12 billion years ago – two billion years after the Big Bang. This is being done so we can gain a better understanding of dark matter and energy, and hopefully encounter a few surprises.  Read More

Scientists destroy simulated Earths to better understand exoplanets, such as Earth-like pl...

Unlike in old B movies, real scientists don’t scream “Fools! I’ll destroy them all!” before throwing the switch on their doomsday device. At least, most of the them don’t. However, the August 10 issue of the Astrophysical Journal reports that a team of scientists are working on destroying the world - not once, but repeatedly. Fortunately, the world they’re destroying exists only in a computer simulation and its destruction is in the service of learning more about planets revolving around other stars.  Read More

Located in the Elqui Valley in Chile, Elqui Domos is one of the few astronomical hotels in...

Located in the Elqui Valley in Chile’s Norte Chico region, Elqui Domos is one of the few astronomical hotels in the world. The area is renowned for its sparkling clear skies and Elqui Domos takes advantage of this by offering lodgings in a series of geodesic domes with elevated loft beds and open rooftops as well as recently added wooden cabins designed with star-gazing in mind.  Read More

3.75 billion years from now - the nighttime sky showing the Andromeda galaxy (M31) early i...

When Galaxies Collide! It sounds like an early science fiction novel. However, analysis of Hubble measurements shows that our own Milky Way galaxy is moving toward a head-on collision with our nearest neighbor, the Andromeda galaxy (also known as M31). The collision will start in about four billion years, and over the following three billion years the two spiral galaxies will coalesce into a large elliptical galaxy. Based on this data, NASA has produced a video of the upcoming collision.  Read More

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