A Dusty Twist Marks the Site of a New Planet’s Birth

  All of the planets in our Solar System formed from a disk of dust and gas surrounding our home star—the Sun—about four and a half billion years ago. Many—maybe even most—of the stars we see in the sky have planets orbiting them, and they all probably formed the same way. But planetary formation is…

Ten Discoveries from SOFIA

(From NASA) Ten years ago, NASA’s telescope on an airplane, SOFIA (the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy), first peered into the cosmos. Since the night of May 26, 2010, SOFIA’s observations of infrared light, invisible to the human eye, have made many scientific discoveries about the hidden universe.

This Toxic Compound on Titan Could Support Life “Not as We Know It”

Saturn’s largest moon Titan is often called an analogy to early Earth, with its thick, chemical-rich atmosphere and widespread system of flowing rivers and north polar lakes. But located almost a billion miles away from the Sun, everything on Titan is shifted into a completely different—and frigid—level of existence from that found on Earth. With…

Meteors May Make Your Hair Hiss

Have you ever gone outside on a cold, clear night to watch a meteor shower and witness a super-bright fireball racing across the sky so brilliantly that you could swear you could hear it? Turns out the sizzling noise might not have been all in your head after all…but rather on it. (And here’s science to prove it.)

The Chirp Heard Round the World: How Scientists Confirmed the LIGO Detection

It’s been a year since researchers with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) announced the first direct observations of gravitational waves, the oscillations in the fabric of space and time created by powerful cosmic events—like the merging of two massive black holes. This cosmic phenomenon was first predicted by Einstein in 1915, but it took a century…

NASA’s Launching Rockets in Alaska to Study Ozone-Killing Compounds

A Black Brant IX sounding rocket was launched 175 miles high early Friday morning, Jan. 27, 2017, from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Poker Flat Research Range to study levels of nitric oxide in the atmosphere as part of the Polar Night Nitric Oxide Experiment (PolarNOx). “The aurora creates nitric oxide, but in the polar night there is no significant…

Spaceflight Affects Everything: First Findings In from NASA’s Twins Study

The first preliminary findings have been announced from NASA’s Twins Study, which used the rare opportunity of having identical twin astronauts—Mark and Scott Kelly—agree to (actually it was their idea!) make “human guinea pigs” of themselves during Scott’s One-Year Mission aboard the Space Station in 2015–2016. The results comparing Mark on Earth to Scott in space show variations in nearly…