Astronomy, Discoveries, Science

Binary black hole discovery may hint at genesis of quasars

OU astrophysicist and his Chinese collaborator used observations from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope to find two supermassive black holes in Markarian 231. Credit: Space Telescope Science Institute,
Baltimore, Maryland

An international astronomy team has detected two supermassive black holes that appear to be orbiting each other in a nearby galaxy. The discovery of a likely binary black hole system suggests that supermassive black holes assemble their masses through violent unions.

Astronomy, News, Space

Welcome back to the family, Pluto!

photo credit: Welcome to the family. Ben Gross/twitter, CC BY-SA

Before you get overly excited, no, Pluto hasn’t been once again accepted as a planet – it’s still officially a dwarf planet (though in our hearts, you’ll always be a planet, Pluto!). However, this emblematic picture of the solar system from my childhood is now complete, as seen in this great family portrait produced by Ben Gross, a research fellow at the Chemical Heritage Foundation. Basically, we have at least the one good image of all the worlds in our solar system.

Astronomy, News

Rosetta to continue its mission and land on a comet

Comet 67P in September 2014. Image credits: ESA.

The European Space Agency has confirmed that the Rosetta mission will continue until at least September 2016, when it will most likely land on a comet called Comet 67P.

Astronomy, Chemistry, Did you know?, Feature Post, Science

How to Build Carbon Soccer Ball Molecules in Space

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Carbon buckyball molecules rarely exist naturally on Earth. Nonetheless, that did not stop astronomers from finding an unexpected abundance of buckyballs in space. Three years ago, Dr. Olivier Berné and Professor Xander Tielens – then, both at Leiden University – suggested a way to form these carbon buckyballs by sifting the hydrogen from larger carbon-hydrogen molecules. Now, a team of astrochemists

Astronomy, News

Cassini captures stunning picture of Titan’s seas

Image credits: NASA/JPL

Saturn’s Moon Titan is a remarkable place; it’s the only place aside for the Earth which has liquids on its surface – albeit, the liquid isn’t water, but rather hydrocarbons: methane and ethane. Titan is too cold to have liquid water on its surface, but that doesn’t make it any less spectacular. NASA’s Cassini spacecraft captured some amazing pictures of

Astronomy, Chemistry, News, Science, Space

All Solar Systems likely have Water (just like ours!)

This flowchart picture shows the evolution of water as it starts out in the Sun's birth cloud, survives the destructive formation of the early solar system, and continues to exist to this day.Credit: Bill Saxton, NSF/AUI/NRAO

We live in a solar system filled with water. Not only does liquid water cover 72% of our planet Earth, we have also found ice water in asteroids and comets, on the Moon, on Mars, and even in the shadows of craters on Mercury; while Europa and other moons of Jupiter and Saturn almost certainly harbor liquid oceans beneath their

Astronomy, News

The Rosetta spacecraft is about to orbit a comet and send a lander on its surface

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A spacecraft from Earth is about to do something no other spacecraft has done before: take off, orbit a comet, and send a lander to it. The European Space Agency (ESA), NASA’s European counterpart has developed the Rosetta probe to hurl towards Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The mission is simple in principle, but the work behind it is gargantuan: study the comet at close-range,

Astronomy, News

Hubble captures most comprehensive picture ever of the Universe

Hubble-wavelengths

Astronomers operating the Hubble telescope have captured the most comprehensive (and most colorful) picture ever assembled of the evolving Universe. This was part of a study called the Ultraviolet Coverage of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (UVUDF) project. Prior to this study, there was a significant lack of data for astronomers. They knew a lot about the galaxies which are close to

Astronomy, Astrophysics

Amazing high energy, relativistic plasma jets coming out of the Hercules A Galaxy

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A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… at about 2 billion light years away from Earth lies radio-galaxy Hercules A, also known as 3C 348. At a first glance it looks just like another massive galaxy out there – at least when looking in the visible spectrum. In the radio wavelengths however, the story is completely different.

Astronomy, Space, Space flight

The Endeavour’s final excursion through Los Angeles

The Endeavour

This past weekend, the last American space shuttle, the Endeavour, made its final trip through the streets of Los Angeles to the California Science Center. The trip lasted from midnight Friday morning until midday Sunday as the shuttle traveled at the high speeds of two miles per hour.  There were many delays and the shuttle reached its destination 17 hours