2014 Paris Motor Show highlights

Space telescope

The astro-comb will try to 'rediscover' Venus by measuring its gravitational effects on th...

Astronomers looking for exoplanets are using a fine-toothed comb – a fine-toothed astro-comb, to be precise. And just to make sure it works, the first planet they’ll be looking for is Venus. Developed by astronomers Chih-Hao Li and David Phillips of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the astro-comb uses a new spectroscopic device installed in the Italian Telescopio Nazionale Galileo in the Canary Islands that will detect the beclouded planet by its gravitational effect on the Sun as a test of a potentially valuable tool in the hunt for Earth-like planets beyond our Solar System.  Read More

Artist's concept of HAT-P-11b crossing in front of its star (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

In a display of interstellar teamwork, NASA’s Hubble, Spitzer and Kepler space telescopes have discovered clear skies and water vapor in the atmosphere of a Neptune-sized planet orbiting a star 120 light years from Earth. According to the space agency, this may not only provide insights into the formation of giant exoplanets, but also act as a new tool for detecting water on Earth-like planets orbiting other stars.  Read More

A star accompanying a supernova in close orbit has been discovered using NASA's Hubble Spa...

A star accompanying a rare type of supernova in close orbit has been discovered by astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. Confirming a long-held theory that the explosion originated in a binary star arrangement, observations verify that the companion star precipitated the destruction of the aging primary star by drawing off mass until its core collapsed and triggered a supernova event.  Read More

Exploded view of the CubeSat-class 50-mm (2-in) imaging instrument (Image: NASA Goddard/Ja...

Telescopes are very simple devices in theory, but getting one to work in space means a complex assembly of mechanical parts that is expensive, difficult to build, and hard to operate in the hostile environment outside the Earth’s atmosphere. To simplify things, NASA aerospace engineer Jason Budinoff is working on the first space telescope made entirely from 3D-printed parts.  Read More

Scientists suggest looking for industrial pollution as a new way of searching for extrater...

According to researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), we might soon be able to detect hints of technologically advanced alien civilizations by measuring high levels of polluting gases in the atmospheres of distant exoplanets. The approach should become viable soon after the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is launched in late 2018.  Read More

Artist's impression of the Hubble/James Webb successor, the ATLAST space telescope (Image:...

NASA has assembled a team of scientists and engineers to lay the first tentative plans for a successor platform to the Hubble and James Webb telescopes. The project, currently in the study phase, is being assessed for the technological and financial requirements needed to create so advanced a deep space observation platform.  Read More

The spiral galaxy NGC 4258 is ejecting gas and high-energy particles in a spectacular disp...

As the US prepares for 4th of July fireworks here on Earth, a nearby spiral galaxy similar to our Milky Way is putting on a pyrotechnics display of its own. The galaxy, NGC 4258 (also known as Messier 106 or M 106), is ejecting gas and high-energy particles in a spectacular display of power that is rippling across the face of the galaxy with shock waves of stellar energy.  Read More

Artist's impression of the New Horizons probe encountering a Kuiper Belt object (Image: JH...

Once you've sent the first space probe to Pluto, what do you do for an encore? As NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft races to its encounter with the dwarf planet next year, the Hubble Space Telescope Time Allocation Committee have given its recommendation that the Hubble be used to find the Horizons’ next destination in the outer reaches of the Solar System.  Read More

The Hubble Space Telescope has taken a long-exposure picture of space in the ultraviolet, ...

A newly-released picture taken by the Hubble Telescope is adding more color to the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF) image by detecting thousands of galaxies in the ultraviolet spectrum. The study, called the Ultraviolet Coverage of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (UVUDF), directly imaged stars and other celestial bodies that would have been impossible to observe on the ground, and gives astronomers critical information that will prove useful as the launch of the more powerful James Webb Space Telescope approaches.  Read More

Kepler-10c is 17 times more massive than the Earth (Image: NASA/Harvard-Smithsonian Center...

Despite being currently offline, the Kepler space telescope is still turning up surprises. One of them is an Earth-like planet that’s so large that astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics call it a “mega-Earth.” Planet Kepler-10c is 17 times heavier than the Earth, and may require scientists to rethink their ideas on planet formation and the likelihood of life in our galaxy.  Read More

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