Heavens

Sound may detect earthquakes on Venus

Sound may detect earthquakes on Venus

Detecting an "earthquake" on Venus would seem to be an impossible task. The planet's surface is a hostile zone of crushing pressure and scorching temperatures--about 874 degrees F, hot enough to melt lead--that would destroy any of the normal instruments used to gauge seismic activity. But conditions in Venus' atmosphere are much more hospitable, and it is here that researchers hope to deploy an array of balloons or satellites that could detect Venusian seismic activity--using sound.

Astronomers find 11 runaway galaxies

Astronomers find 11 runaway galaxies

We know of about two dozen runaway stars, and have even found one runaway star cluster escaping its galaxy forever. Now, astronomers have spotted 11 runaway galaxies that have been flung out of their homes to wander the void of intergalactic space.

"These galaxies are facing a lonely future, exiled from the galaxy clusters they used to live in," said astronomer Igor Chilingarian (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics/Moscow State University). Chilingarian is the lead author of the study, which is appearing in the journal Science.

Tau Ceti the next Earth? Probably not

Tau Ceti the next Earth? Probably not

As the search continues for Earth-size planets orbiting at just the right distance from their star, a region termed the habitable zone, the number of potentially life-supporting planets grows. In two decades we have progressed from having no extrasolar planets to having too many to search. Narrowing the list of hopefuls requires looking at extrasolar planets in a new way. Applying a nuanced approach that couples astronomy and geophysics, Arizona State University researchers report that from that long list we can cross off cosmic neighbor Tau Ceti.

It shouldn't be there: Black hole hunters use Henize 2-10 to tackle a cosmic conundrum

It shouldn't be there: Black hole hunters use Henize 2-10 to tackle a cosmic conundrum

What does it mean when a supermassive black hole exists in a place where it isn't supposed to be? It means a new door has opened, and it might lead to insight on what things were like in the early universe.

Constellation Eridanus and a cold spot in the cosmic microwave background

Constellation Eridanus and a cold spot in the cosmic microwave background

In 2004, astronomers examining a map of the radiation leftover from the Big Bang (the cosmic microwave background, or CMB) discovered the Cold Spot, a larger-than-expected unusually cold area of the sky. The physics surrounding the Big Bang theory predicts warmer and cooler spots of various sizes in the infant universe, but a spot this large and this cold was unexpected.

Abell 3827 may show signs of self-interacting dark matter

Abell 3827 may show signs of self-interacting dark matter

Using the MUSE instrument on ESO's VLT in Chile, along with images from Hubble in orbit, a team of astronomers studied the simultaneous collision of four galaxies in the galaxy cluster Abell 3827. The team could trace out where the mass lies within the system and compare the distribution of the dark matter with the positions of the luminous galaxies.

Violent methane storms on Titan may solve dune direction mystery

Violent methane storms on Titan may solve dune direction mystery

With its thick, hazy atmosphere and surface rivers, mountains, lakes and dunes, Titan, Saturn's largest moon, is one of the most Earthlike places in the solar system.

As the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft examines Titan over many years, its discoveries bring new mysteries. One of those involves the seemingly wind-created sand dunes spotted by Cassini near the moon's equator, and the contrary winds just above.

In the Milky Way's stellar baby boom, Sol came late

In the Milky Way's stellar baby boom, Sol came late

In one of the most comprehensive multi-observatory galaxy surveys yet, astronomers find that galaxies like our Milky Way underwent a stellar "baby boom," churning out stars at a prodigious rate, about 30 times faster than today.

Our sun, however, is a late "boomer." The Milky Way's star-birthing frenzy peaked 10 billion years ago, but our sun was late for the party, not forming until roughly 5 billion years ago. By that time the star formation rate in our galaxy had plunged to a trickle.

PSO J334.2028+01.4075 light may indicate supermassive black hole merger

As two galaxies enter the final stages of merging, scientists have hypothesized that the galaxies' supermassive black holes will form a "binary," or set of two, black holes in such close orbit they are gravitationally bound to one another. In a new study, astronomers at the University of Maryland present direct evidence of a pulsing quasar, which may substantiate the existence of black hole binaries.

How to date the moon-forming impact event with meteorites

Through a combination of data analysis and numerical modeling work, researchers have found a record of the ancient Moon-forming giant impact observable in stony meteorites. Their work will appear in the April 2015 issue of the Journal Science. The work was done by NASA Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) researchers led by Principal Investigator Bill Bottke of the Institute for the Science of Exploration Targets (ISET) team at the Southwest Research Institute and included Tim Swindle, director of the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory.