Astronomy, News, Observations, Space

Astronomers map the Supercluster the Milky Way belongs to

The Laniakea Supercluster shown its equatorial plane. Image: CEA/Saclay, France

Our sun is but a tiny speck of light among billions, part of the spiral galaxy we familiarly call the Milky Way. That in itself makes us puny humans feel extremely humble, but things get really out of proportion when you zoom out. Galaxies on their own turn congregate in the hundreds or even thousands, bound together by gravity to…

Astronomy, Astrophysics, News, Space

ESA’s billion-star surveyor, Gaia, ready to begin its science mission

Artistic representation of the ESA.

Gaia is an unmanned space observatory of the European Space Agency (ESA) which aims to catalog approximately 1 billion astronomical objects (mostly stars), about 1% of the Milky Way population. Gaia will provide a trove of valuable and spectacular data, including a precise three-dimensional map of astronomical objects throughout the Milky Way and map their motions. We were telling you…

Alien life, Astronomy

101 Dalmatians ?! Probe counts and maps the geysers on Enceladus

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The geysers on the surface of Saturn’s moon Enceladus have been counted and mapped, strengthening theories that Enceladus is one of the best extraterrestrial places in our solar system to look for life. Earth is not the only place in our solar system which holds water. For example, Enceladus also has liquid oceans – albeit ones covered by a thick…

Astronomy, Astrophysics

When Galaxies Collide: Triple Black Hole System Discovered

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Two decades ago, astronomers started to find evidence that almost all galaxies have a supermassive black hole at their center. However, the discovery of a trio of black holes circling the center of a distant galaxy, reported by astronomers on Wednesday indicates that duos and trios of black holes are much more common than previously thought. “We were quite surprised to…

Alien life, Astronomy, Interviews

Scientist Interviews: Marie-Eve Naud [Astrobiology]

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A while ago, we were telling you about the discovery of a huge exoplanet – a gas giant, found just 155 light years away from Earth. The head researcher behind that study was Marie-Eve Naud. Her main research field is the detection and characterization of exoplanets, with a focus on astrobiology. She was kind enough to talk to us and shed some…

Astronomy, Geology

Never before seen “magic island” pops up on Saturn’s Moon Titan

Titan Ligeia Mare.

Astronomers have discovered a previously unspotted geological feature on Saturn’s moon, Titan. Pictures taken by the Cassini probe revealed a transient geological feature – a “magic island”. Now you see it, now you don’t The bright, mysterious object was seen in Ligeia Mare, the second-largest sea on Saturn’s moon Titan. But Cassini took pictures of that area before, and the…

Astronomy, Astrophysics, News

Oldest known potentially habitable exoplanet discovered just 13 lightyears away

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An international team of astronomers reported the discovery of two new planets orbiting a very old and nearby star to the Sun named Kapteyn’s star; one of the planets, Kapteyn b, is potentially habitable – it has the right size, and is at the right distance from its start to host liquid water. What makes it even more interesting is that at…

Astronomy, Astrophysics

Scientists find double supermassive black hole

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Astronomers have for the first time discovered a pair of supermassive black holes that orbit each other in an ordinary galaxy. At the heart of most galaxies, there lies a supermassive black hole – as you probably already figured out from the name, it’s like a normal black hole, but much bigger. But two supermassive black holes? That’s a smoking…

Astronomy, News, Space

NASA activates veggie growing system on the ISS

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Growing vegetables in outer space – something which science fiction readers are very familiar with, but in the real world, this is a first – NASA’s veggie growing chambers have activated. We were telling you a while ago about NASA’s plans to start growing vegetables onboard the ISS – and now, the system is online. The main question which is…

Astronomy, News, Space

Asteroids can have rings, too

Saturn's Rings. Image via NASA.

When it comes to rings, we usually think about gas giants – Jupiter and Saturn have spoiled us that way. But astronauts have showed that asteroids can have rings too – at just 250 kilometres across, Chariklo is the smallest known body which has rings. Previously, only gas giants in our solar system have been seen sporting them: Jupiter, Saturn,…