Astronomers Trace Spiral Structure of Milky Way With WISE

Using data from NASA’s WISE spacecraft, astronomers were able to trace the shape of our Milky Way galaxy’s spiral arms, by revealing the presence of hundreds of open clusters of very young stars shrouded in dust, called embedded clusters, which are known to reside in spiral arms. The image shows the location of the […]

Construction Site Ahead: Hubble Observes Planet-Forming Circumstellar Dust Disks in Great Detail

A set of high-resolution images of the vast circumstellar debris disks around 11 nearby young stars, which were obtained with the Hubble Space Telescope, have helped astronomers to study their complex and dynamic structure for the first time in great detail. This visible-light survey, called HST/GO 12228, was done with Hubble’s Space Telescope Imaging […]

Between the Planet and the Star: A New Ultra-Cold, Sub-Stellar Object Discovered Close to Sun

An artist’s depiction of the newly discovered WISE J085510.83-071442.5, the coldest known brown dwarf candidate, located 7.2 light-years from the Sun. Image Credit: Penn State University/NASA/JPL-Caltech

Contrary to the human need for organising objects in well-defined and distinct categories, our Solar System seems to be replete with celestial objects that defy our tidy definitions […]

Studying the Light of Alien Atmospheres With NESSI

A new multi-object, near-infrared spectrograph, installed on the Magdalena Ridge Observatory’s 2.4-m Telescope, will study the atmospheres of extrasolar planets located relatively close to Earth, allowing astronomers to probe their chemical composition. Image Credit: MRO

Exoplanetary astronomy has been one of the most productive scientific endeavors in recent years, with new discoveries of planets […]

Putting an End to the Planet X Saga? Latest Search for Hypothetical Planet at Edge of Solar System Comes Up Empty

The notion of Planet X, a hypothetical massive planet orbiting the Sun beyond the known reaches of the Solar System, has held great appeal for the general public for many decades. The newest results from NASA’s WISE mission, however, indicate that no such planet exists. Image Credit: Warner Bros.


Deeply ingrained in popular […]

Exoplanet Research Steps Up: Traces of Water in Exoplanet Atmospheres Discovered

An artist’s concept of extrasolar planet HD 209458b. A recent study discovered traces of water in the planet’s atmosphere, using the Hubble Space Telescope. Image Credit: NASA.


In a big step forward for exoplanet research, two teams of astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope were able to conclusively identify traces of water in […]

It's an Alien Blue World—But Nothing Like Earth

Artist’s conception of exoplanet HD 189733b—a “deep blue dot” reminiscent of Earth from a distance. Image Credit: NASA / ESA / M. Kornmesser

The planets and moons in our Solar System come in a wide variety of colors, and the natural beauty can be breathtaking. Now, the true color of a much more distant […]

Key Milestone Passed in Construction of the James Webb Space Telescope

Construction of the crucial “backbone” of the James Webb Telescope has now been completed. Image Credit: NASA.

The James Webb Space Telescope, a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency, is planned to be launched in 2018 on an ESA Ariane 5 rocket. The Northrop Grumman Corporation […]

Hubble Space Telescope Reveals Evidence of Farthest Known Planet From Its Star

A gap in the protoplanetary disk of dust and gas whirling around TV Hydrae uncovered evidence of an unseen, growing planet, according to astronomers studying Hubble data. Image Credit: NASA, ESA, J. Debes (STScI), H. Jang-Condell (University of Wyoming), A. Weinberger (Carnegie Institution of Washington), A. Roberge (Goddard Space Flight Center), G. Schneider (University […]

Hubble and Herschel Make Surprising Deep-Space Finds

The Ring Nebula, with its dying progenitor star clearly visible. Photo Credit: NASA

New data from the Hubble Space Telescope and the Herschel Space Observatory have provided new insights into the shape and structure of the far-off Ring Nebula—whose fate has important ramifications for the future of our own Sun—and may have begun the […]