Using NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, astronomers have discovered the first Earth-size planet orbiting a star in the “habitable zone” — the range of distance from a star where liquid water might pool on the surface of an orbiting planet. The discovery of Kepler-186f confirms that planets the size of Earth exist in the habitable zone of stars other than our sun.
The total lunar eclipse of April 15 will begin a so-called tetrad series of eclipses that is making the rounds online as a potential harbinger of doom, due in part to a recent book on the four blood moons that makes the dubious claim. Astronomers rarely if ever use the term blood moon. When they do, they are usually using it as an alternate name for the Hunter’s Moon, the full moon that follows the Harvest Moon, usually in late October. The Hunter’s Moon, like the Harvest Moon, rises slowly on autumn evenings so that it shines through a thick layer of the Earth’s atmosphere, and is colored red by Rayleigh scattering and air pollution.
The universe is huge. Travelling at light speed to the nearest star would take more than four years. Venturing to the other side of the galaxy? More than 100,000 years. So what’s an intrepid space traveler to do? One option is a cosmic shortcut called a wormhole, a tunnel through the fabric of space and time that can connect far-flung corners of the universe. Hopping through a wormhole would be incredibly difficult, say scientists, but they have yet to rule it out. So, what would it take in reality, and what exactly is stopping us now?
A recent find may give a boost to the hunt for Planet X. On Wednesday (March 26), researchers announced they had discovered a dwarf planet orbiting the sun in a distant, largely unexplored region known as the inner Oort Cloud. Further, the orbits of the newfound object, known as 2012 VP113, and some of its neighbors are consistent with (though by no means proof of) the existence of a planet-size “perturber” far from the sun — perhaps so distant that it cannot be detected with current instruments.
Discovery of an icy “dwarf” world beyond Pluto hints that a much bigger planet may hide even farther out in the dim reaches of the solar system, astronomers suggested on Wednesday.
The first direct evidence of cosmic inflation — a period of rapid expansion that occurred a fraction of a second after the Big Bang — also supports the idea that our universe is just one of many out there, some researchers say. This theory posits that, when the universe grew exponentially in the first tiny fraction of a second after the Big Bang, some parts of space-time expanded more quickly than others. This could have created “bubbles” of space-time that then developed into other universes.
On March 17, 2014 scientists announced the first direct detection of the cosmic inflation behind the rapid expansion of the universe just a tiny fraction of a second after the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago. A key piece of the discovery is the evidence of gravitational waves, a long-sought cosmic phenomenon that has eluded astronomers until now.
The largest yellow star ever discovered has another star orbiting so closely they’re actually touching. The stats for the star are impressive: dubbed HR 5171 A, the binary system weighs in at a combined 39 solar masses, has a radius of over 1,300 times that of our Sun, and is a million times as luminous. Located 3,600 parsecs or over 11,700 light years distant, the star is 50% larger than the famous red giant Betelgeuse.
After searching hundreds of millions of objects across our sky, NASA’s Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) has turned up no evidence of the hypothesized celestial body in our solar system commonly dubbed “Planet X.” Researchers previously had theorized about the existence of this large, but unseen celestial body, suspected to lie somewhere beyond the orbit of Pluto.
As far as universal limits go, the speed of light gets all the glory. But did you know there is a different speed limit for particles? It’s called the GZK limit, and some people think it has already been exceeded. Which has some pretty weird implications for the laws of the universe.
We had an X4.9 solar flare – the largest since 2012. The CME will NOT be geo-effective, but it heralds more to come and caused a radio blackout over much of the Western Pacific. Expect more flaring in the wake of this eruption.
Last night, a giant asteroid was supposed to streak by the Earth, close enough for us to catch a glimpse as it zipped by. Except it never showed, and now astronomers say they have no idea just where the 900-foot asteroid has gone. So, just how does one misplace an asteroid the size of three football fields? The most likely explanation is that its orbit was miscalculated.
Did a vast ocean once cover Mars’ northern plains? The idea has been hotly debated among scientists for the past 20 years, ever since Viking Orbiter images revealed possible ancient shorelines near the pole. Later findings even suggested that the primordial ocean—dubbed Oceanus Borealis—could have covered a third of the planet. Now a new study by Lorena Moscardelli, a geologist at the University of Texas, Austin, puts forward yet another line of evidence
Hank Green explains the science behind recent reports that physics great Stephen Hawking said “there are no black holes.” There are. They’re just super complicated.