News

Do stars fall quietly into black holes?

30 May 2017 Astronomy Now

Astronomers at the University of Texas at Austin and Harvard University have put a basic principle of black holes to the test, showing that matter completely vanishes when pulled in. Their results constitute another successful test for Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

News

Cassini survives closest brush with Saturn’s inner ring

30 May 2017 Stephen Clark

Barreling through space near the inner edge of Saturn’s wispy D ring, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft shielded itself from bits of ice and dust Sunday as the probe made its most dangerous plunge close to the planet, collecting spectacular edge-on views of Saturn’s rings with an on-board camera.

News

Newly discovered fast-growing galaxies could solve cosmic riddle

29 May 2017 Astronomy Now

Astronomers have discovered a new kind of galaxy in the early universe, less than a billion years after the Big Bang. These galaxies are forming stars more than a hundred times faster than our own Milky Way. The discovery could explain an earlier finding: a population of surprisingly massive galaxies at a time 1.5 billion years after the Big Bang, which would require such hyper-productive precursors to grow their hundreds of billions of stars.

News

Jupiter surprises in first trove of data from NASA’s Juno mission

27 May 2017 Stephen Clark

The first months of observations of the solar system’s biggest planet from NASA’s Juno spacecraft have revealed huge swirling polar cyclones, previously-undetected structures and motions beneath Jupiter’s distinctive clouds, and the first evidence for what lies at the core of the gas giant, scientists said Thursday.

News

Earlier launch of NASA’s Psyche mission touted as cost-saving measure

26 May 2017 Stephen Clark

A NASA spacecraft set to explore a metallic asteroid for the first time will launch in 2022, a year earlier than originally planned, and reach its destination in 2026, four years ahead of schedule, giving ground teams a shorter wait for the mission’s scientific payoff and shaving $100 million off the project’s total cost, officials said Wednesday.

News

The Galaxy’s strangest star dims again

24 May 2017 Keith Cooper

A sudden dimming in brightness of Tabby’s Star, famed for its large and puzzling fades, has triggered a frenzy of observations as astronomers hurry to try to get to the bottom of what is rapidly become one of the biggest mysteries in astronomy.

Observing

Watch near-Earth asteroid 2017 CS dash across the northern sky 28 May—1 June

23 May 2017 Ade Ashford

Five hundred-metre-wide asteroid 2017 CS passes just 1.9 million miles, or 7.9 lunar distances, from Earth on the afternoon of Monday 29 May 2017. For a few nights around this date, Northern Hemisphere observers with 6-inch and larger ‘scopes can see the asteroid gallop through the constellations of Canes Venatici, Boötes and Hercules at up to 14 degrees/day.

News

VLA reveals new object near supermassive black hole in famous galaxy

23 May 2017 Astronomy Now

Pointing the Very Large Array at a famous galaxy for the first time in two decades, a team of astronomers got a big surprise, finding that a bright new object had appeared near the galaxy’s core. The object, the scientists concluded, is either a very rare type of supernova explosion or, more likely, an outburst from a second supermassive black hole closely orbiting the galaxy’s primary, central supermassive black hole.