These Cosmic “Ghosts” Are Some Of The Stranger Things In Our Galaxy

Looking like something out of a Tim Burton movie, the eerie shapes seen here are part of a cloud of gas and dust located 1,470 light-years away in the constellation Cepheus. The transparent anthropomorphic figures with their outstretched “arms” are responsible for the structure’s spooky nickname: the “Ghost Nebula.” Advertisements

Antares is a Bug-Eyed Monster 700 Times Bigger Than Our Sun

From a “mere” 93 million miles away we’re able to view the surface of our home star the Sun very well with telescopes on Earth and in space…you can even observe large sunspots with your unaided eye (with proper protection, of course.) But the surface details of other stars tens, hundreds, or thousands of light-years…

This Blazing Quasar Got Wave Motion Gunned Clear Out Of Its Galaxy

Astronomers still have yet to directly capture an image of a black hole—they’re working on it—but they know where some of the largest ones are: inside the hearts of galaxies, where they power brilliant and powerful quasars whose light can be seen across the Universe. Some of these supermassive black holes (SMBs) can contain the mass…

Did Ancient Supernovas Change Earth’s Climate?

Supernovas are some of the most powerful and energetic events in the entire Universe. When a dying star explodes you wouldn’t want to be anywhere nearby—fresh elements are nice and all, but the energy and radiation from a supernova would roast any planets within tens if not hundreds of light-years in all directions. Luckily for us…

ESO Images NGC 1055, a Spiral Galaxy “On the Edge”

The European Southern Observatory’s unimaginatively-named but incredibly powerful Very Large Telescope (VLT) located on a remote plateau high in the mountains of Chile’s Atacama Desert has captured a detailed view of NGC 1055, a spiral galaxy a little larger than our own located 55 million light-years away. On galactic scales this is relatively close by, and…

Seven Earth-sized Exoplanets Discovered Around a Single Nearby Star!

In what’s being called a “record-breaking exoplanet discovery” NASA announced today the detection of not one, not two, not three or four but seven exoplanets orbiting the ultra-cool dwarf star TRAPPIST-1, located just under 40 light-years away in the constellation Aquarius. (That’s astronomically very close, although still 235 trillion miles distant.) What’s more, these exoplanets aren’t bloated hot…

Astronomers Witness a Star’s Blazing Death by Black Hole

  A star’s violent death by black hole has been spotted by researchers from the University of New Hampshire, using observations made by three orbiting x-ray space telescopes. Located in a small galaxy 1.8 billion light-years away, the event demonstrates what happens when a star gets too close to a supermassive black hole and gets torn apart,…

This Nebula Really Stinks!

This image from the Hubble Space Telescope shows the Calabash Nebula, the cosmic death throes of a low-mass star like our Sun. Caught during the astronomically brief phase between a red giant and a planetary nebula, the star is ejecting much of its mass out into space at velocities of over 620,000 mph. So why does it “stink?” The bright…

Galactic Collisions Meet Supermassive Black Holes in This Deep Space Image

Observations from some of the world’s most powerful telescopes—NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) in India, the National Science Foundation’s Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array in New Mexico, and Japan’s Subaru Telescope in Hawai’i have been combined to create an image of two incredibly powerful cosmic forces colliding, two billion light-years away. Hot gas…

This Star in Our Galaxy is Almost as Old as the Entire Universe

Like anything else, stars have life spans. They are born (from collapsing clouds of interstellar dust), they go through a long main phase where they fuse various elements in their cores, and eventually they die when they run out of fuel. The finer details of these steps are based on what the star is made of, how…

“Alien Megastructure” May Actually Be Scraps of an Ingested Planet

For the past couple of years the astronomy world has been abuzz with news of the strange and randomly-occurring dimming of the star KIC 8462852—aka Tabby’s Star—located 1,276 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus and recently observed by NASA’s Kepler spacecraft. Hypotheses about the cause range from conservative (a transiting cloud of comets) to quite speculative (an “alien megastructure” constructed around the…

What If You Had a Black Hole in Your Pocket?

What would happen if you somehow had a coin-sized black hole to play with? (Come on, you know you’ve been wondering about this.) Well, besides the fact that you’d quickly be dead (spoiler alert) a lot of things would happen—to you, to the world around you and, depending on the kind of black hole, to…