August 25, 2011 |
For the first time, astronomers say they've borne witness to a supermassive black hole consuming a star. Two papers released Wednesday by the journal Nature describe powerful blasts of radiation whose brightness and behavior can be explained only by a sun-sized star being torn apart by the gravitational forces of a black hole at the center of its galaxy, the authors say. Scientists believe they have seen the aftermath of such stellar violence...
June 18, 2011 |
Astronomers have discovered a hidden collection of supermassive, growing black holes dating back to the early universe -- showing, for the first time, that black holes populated the cosmos far earlier than thought. The findings, published online Wednesday in the journal Nature, could help scientists understand how these black holes are born, how big they grow and how galaxies develop with them. "We know the nearest galaxies, like our own Milky Way, all have supermassive black holes in the center," said lead author Ezequiel Treister, an astronomer at the University of Hawaii.
January 9, 2011 |
How I Killed Pluto And Why It Had It Coming Mike Brown Spiegel & Grau: 267 pp., $25 Moon A Brief History Bernd Brunner Yale University Press: 290 pp., $25 Pluto. Poor little guy. He never wanted much. The others could be bigger, they could be better-looking or brag about themselves ("I'm burning hot!" or "I have rings!" or "I support life!"). He didn't care. All he wanted was to be part of the planet club. And for about 75 years, that tiny frozen world billions of miles from the sun was a card-carrying member.
August 28, 2010 |
Astronomers have found two new solar systems circling distant stars, one with as many as seven planets and both with planets only slightly larger than Earth. The system with seven planets is the largest yet known beyond our own, and the two planets close to the size of Earth are the smallest yet discovered. Neither could be considered Earth-like, however. Both orbit so close to their stars that their surfaces are blistering hot — so hot that they might even glow, experts said.
July 10, 2010 |
When the moon blots out the sun's blinding rays on Sunday, a sliver of the Earth's surface will be plunged into eerie darkness. Travelers who have crossed thousands of miles to witness the celestial show will gaze at the sky and, for a few minutes, see a thing most people never get to see: a halo of fire — the sun's corona — flickering around the edges of the silhouette of the moon. But Jay Pasachoff, over on Easter Island, may be looking down more than up — calibrating his instruments, checking for technical glitches, peering through lenses.
October 17, 2009 |
Is 2012 the end of the world? If you scan the Internet or believe the marketing campaign behind the movie "2012," scheduled for release in November, you might be forgiven for thinking so. Dozens of books and fake science websites are prophesying the arrival of doomsday that year, by means of a rogue planet colliding with the Earth or some other cataclysmic event. Normally, scientists regard Internet hysteria with nothing more than a raised eyebrow and a shake of the head. But a few scientists have become so concerned at the level of fear they are seeing that they decided not to remain on the sidelines this time.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
June 25, 2009 |
Astronomer Frank J. Low, the experimental genius who developed and distributed sensors for infrared astronomy and performed the first successful observations above the Earth's atmosphere, died June 11 in Tucson after a long illness, the University of Arizona announced. He was 75.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 27, 2009 |
Maybe it's because a working model of the Mars rover is plopped in the nook of what was once a grand, ornate fireplace. Or because the old coach house, with its loft that once stored hay, now accommodates a design for a spacecraft powered by solar sail. Whatever the reason, the headquarters of the Planetary Society -- in a Pasadena house built by Charles and Henry Greene in 1903 -- is a study in juxtapositions.
December 13, 2008 |
Researchers using the Hubble Space Telescope have found evidence for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of a planet orbiting a star 63 light-years from Earth, the first demonstration that it is possible to monitor atmospheric chemistry on such distant exoplanets. Carbon dioxide could be associated with processes involving life, but in this case it probably is not because the Jupiter-sized planet, called HD 189733b, is too hot. Previous observations by Hubble and the Spitzer Space Telescope have also found water vapor and methane in the planet's atmosphere.