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Monday, May 25, 2020
Images obtained of two stars in the process of a merger

Images obtained of two stars in the process of a merger

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Enlarge / Some of the structures present in the area around the recently described star system. We know two facts about our galaxy that are, in isolation, mundane. One is that many stars are part of a two-star system and may orbit each other at distances similar to those of the planets in our own…
White dwarf causes strange relativity effect called frame dragging

White dwarf causes strange relativity effect called frame dragging

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Enlarge / The lit up rings in this image are caused by wobbles in a pulsar's axis of rotation. Ask about some mind-bending physics, and people will tend to focus on the many mind-bending oddities of quantum mechanics. But there's no shortage of strangeness in another one of physics' cornerstone theories: relativity. From time being…
Finding stars that vanished—by scouring old photos

Finding stars that vanished—by scouring old photos

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First you see it (top left) then you don't. Before the advent of digital imaging, astronomy was done using photographic plates. The results look a bit like biology experiments gone bad (of which I've perpetrated more than a few), with a sea of dark speckles of different intensities scattered randomly about. To separate the real…
No, Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is not disintegrating, physicist claims

No, Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is not disintegrating, physicist claims

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Enlarge / A dramatic view of Jupiter's Great Red Spot and its surroundings, courtesy of Voyager 1 on Feb. 25, 1979, when the spacecraft was 5.7 million miles (9.2 million kilometers) from Jupiter. Earlier this year, several amateur astronomers spotted an unusual anomaly on the planet Jupiter: bits of the gas giant's famed Great Red…
Alternative theory of gravity makes an almost testable forecast

Alternative theory of gravity makes an almost testable forecast

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Enlarge / Galaxy clusters generated by the Universe simulator IllustrisTNG. From our current perspective, the Universe seems to be dominated by two things we find frustratingly difficult to understand. One of these is dark matter, which describes the fact that everything from galaxies on up behaves as if it has more mass than we can…
Space-based gravitational-wave detector might spot odd exoplanets

Space-based gravitational-wave detector might spot odd exoplanets

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Enlarge / A depiction of one of the trio of satellites that will form the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna. The first detection of gravitational waves came via LIGO (the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory)—an instrument that has to strain to overcome the constant background noise of vibrations and jolts that occur on Earth. Its success has…
Swirling patterns in Starry Night match those in gassy star nurseries

Swirling patterns in Starry Night match those in gassy star nurseries

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Enlarge / The bold blue and yellow swirls of Vincent van Gogh's Starry Night (1889) share turbulent properties with the molecular clouds that give birth to stars. In 2004, NASA published an image by the Hubble Space Telescope of turbulent eddies of dusty clouds moving around a supergiant star. The agency noted that this "light…
SOFIA Follows the Sulfur for Hints on Outstanding Advancement

SOFIA Follows the Sulfur for Hints on Outstanding Advancement

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The high-flying SOFIA telescope is shedding light on where some of the basic building blocks for life may have originated from. A recent study published on The Astrophysical Journal: Letters led by astronomers from the University of Hawaii, including collaborators from the University of California Davis, Johns-Hopkins University, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences,…
One Of These 4 Missions Will Be Chosen As NASA’s Subsequent Flagship For Astrophysics

One Of These 4 Missions Will Be Chosen As NASA’s Subsequent...

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Imaging ever closer to the occasion horizon

Imaging ever closer to the occasion horizon

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Enlarge / Artist's conception of a blob of hot matter orbiting close to surface of a black hole. At this distance, its orbit is influenced by the black hole's spin. While black holes themselves swallow any light beyond their event horizon, the area outside the event horizon tends to emit lots of light. That's because…

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