Don't call them planets.This year two unmanned spacecrafts are taking us to worlds we have never seen up close. The Dawn mission has been in orbit around Ceres, the largest asteroid in the solar system since March, and the New Horizons spacecraft will make a close fly-by of Pluto on July 14.
Could it be that no one is out there? Are we now free to declare ourselves the acme of brain power in this part of the cosmos, and certify that everything out to 50 million light-years is Klingon-free?
Centuries from now, when historians look back at the discoveries that have shaped our view of the universe, I believe that the Hubble Space Telescope will have earned its place.
If you are at all interested in astronomy, chances are you've already heard that the Hubble Space Telescope is celebrating its 25th anniversary this week. What some people may not know is that Hubble is one of four siblings, so to speak.
Tonight on April 4, 2015 I walked the streets of downtown Los Angeles. I was walking down Spring Street on the night of the full moon and a lunar eclipse. I'm not surprised that it was a night of discovery, of the unexpected, of something new.
An odd phenomenon that's descriptively called a "fast radio burst" is the latest celestial discovery to capture the attention of both astrophysicists and the media -- and be labeled by some as the work of crafty extraterrestrials.
Most art collectors have their niche -- one medium or period that they particularly gravitate toward. While this isn't necessarily a bad thing, too much of the same style can lead to some awfully monotonous walls.
Just as a hurricane drives rain, wind, and floods, the space weather arising from a solar eruption can come in different forms. First comes the light from a solar flare, disrupting high-frequency radio communications more or less immediately.
Light is one of those things that we almost inevitably take for granted. In fact, many of us might not realize the extent that we overlook its contributions to our lives, because it's hard to see - literally -- just how much it does.
Astronomers have known about these objects for decades, but in the depths of cosmic time, it's hard to understand how they can grow so quickly -- or maybe not!
Except for a few notable exceptions, nearly all stars appear as mere points of light because their distance simply precludes our current capabilities from seeing otherwise. Let's look at a cool analogy to understand the issue and how it relates to planets.
New data from the Planck satellite indicates that the cosmic microwave background pattern once thought to be from gravitational waves is an artifact of galactic dust.
Astronomers have been waiting for this for a long time, and at some time in the not so distant future the brilliant red star in the constellation Orion will explode. What will it look like?
Looking at our own Solar System helps us understand how the placement of an Exoplanet within the habitable zone of its star will drastically affect its climate.