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Strange Star Likely Swarmed by Comets

A star called KIC 8462852 has been in the news recently for unexplained and bizarre behavior. NASA’s Kepler mission had monitored the star for four years, observing two unusual incidents, in 2011 and 2013, when the star’s light dimmed in dramatic, never-before-seen ways. Something had passed in front of the star and blocked its light, Read More

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Strange Star Likely Swarmed by Comets

A star called KIC 8462852 has been in the news recently for unexplained and bizarre behavior. NASA’s Kepler mission had monitored the star for four years, observing two unusual incidents, in 2011 and 2013, when the star’s light dimmed in dramatic, never-before-seen ways. Something had passed in front of the star and blocked its light, Read More

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NASA’s Fermi Mission Finds Hints of Gamma-ray Cycle in an Active Galaxy

Astronomers using data from NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope have detected hints of periodic changes in the brightness of a so-called “active” galaxy, whose emissions are powered by a supersized black hole. If confirmed, the discovery would mark the first years-long cyclic gamma-ray emission ever detected from any galaxy, which could provide new insights into Read More

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Dark Matter and Particle Acceleration in Near Space

Peering into darkness can strike fear into the hearts of some, but a new space telescope will soon peer into the darkness of “near space” (within a few thousand light years of Earth). Scientists are using the telescope to seek answers related to the field of high-energy astrophysics. The CALorimetric Electron Telescope (CALET) investigation will Read More

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Voyager 1 Helps Solve Interstellar Medium Mystery

NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft made history in 2012 by entering interstellar space, leaving the planets and the solar wind behind. But observations from the pioneering probe were puzzling with regard to the magnetic field around it, as they differed from what scientists derived from observations by other spacecraft. A new study offers fresh insights into Read More

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NASA’s K2 Finds Dead Star Vaporizing a Mini “Planet”

Scientists using NASA’s repurposed Kepler space telescope, known as the K2 mission, have uncovered strong evidence of a tiny, rocky object being torn apart as it spirals around a white dwarf star. This discovery validates a long-held theory that white dwarfs are capable of cannibalizing possible remnant planets that have survived within its solar system. Read More

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Hubble Shears a “Woolly” Galaxy

This new image of the spiral galaxy NGC 3521 from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope is not out of focus. Instead, the galaxy itself has a soft, woolly appearance as it a member of a class of galaxies known as flocculent spirals. Like other flocculent galaxies, NGC 3521 lacks the clearly defined, arcing structure to Read More

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Milky Way’s Black Hole Shows Signs of Increased Chatter

Three orbiting X-ray space telescopes have detected an increased rate of X-ray flares from the usually quiet giant black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy after new long-term monitoring. Scientists are trying to learn whether this is normal behavior that was unnoticed due to limited monitoring, or these flares are triggered by Read More

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Hubble Peers into the Heart of a Galactic Maelstrom

This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image shows Messier 96, a spiral galaxy just over 35 million light-years away in the constellation of Leo (The Lion). It is of about the same mass and size as the Milky Way. It was first discovered by astronomer Pierre Méchain in 1781, and added to Charles Messier’s famous catalogue Read More

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Hubble Finds a Little Gem

This colorful bubble is a planetary nebula called NGC 6818, also known as the Little Gem Nebula. It is located in the constellation of Sagittarius (The Archer), roughly 6,000 light-years away from us. The rich glow of the cloud is just over half a light-year across — humongous compared to its tiny central star — Read More