Heavens

By following up on mysterious high-energy sources mapped out by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, the Netherlands-based Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) radio telescope has identified a pulsar spinning at more than 42,000 revolutions per minute, making it the second-fastest known.

Sea ice in the Arctic Ocean is in a downward spiral, with summer minimum extents about 40 percent smaller than in the 1980s. But predicting how the sea ice is going to behave in a particular year is tricky: There are still many unknowns about the conditions of the sea ice cover, to say nothing of the difficulties of forecasting weather and ocean behavior over seasonal timescales.

An international team of astronomers used the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to estimate whether there might be water on the seven earth-sized planets orbiting the nearby dwarf star TRAPPIST-1. The results suggest that the outer planets of the system might still harbour substantial amounts of water. This includes the three planets within the habitable zone of the star, lending further weight to the possibility that they may indeed be habitable.

MADISON, Wis. -- Astronomers have measured magnetic fields in a galaxy 4.6 billion light-years away -- a big clue to understanding how magnetic fields formed and evolved over cosmic time.

On a cold March night in Seoul almost 600 years ago, Korean astrologers spotted a bright new star in the tail of the constellation Scorpius. It was seen for just 14 days before fading from view. From these ancient records, modern astronomers determined that what the Royal Imperial Astrologers saw was a nova explosion, but they had been unable to find the binary star system that caused it -- until now. A new study published today by the journal Nature pinpoints the location of the old nova, which now undergoes smaller-scale "dwarf nova" eruptions.

A team led by Edith Falgarone (Ecole Normale Supérieure and Observatoire de Paris, France) has used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA - http://eso.org/alma) to detect signatures of the carbon hydride CH+ [1] in distant starburst galaxies[2]. The group identified strong signals of CH+ in five out of the six galaxies studied, including the Cosmic Eyelash (eso1012 - https://www.eso.org/public/news/eso1012/ ) [3].

Soon after the Big Bang, the universe went completely dark.

The intense, seminal event that created the cosmos churned up so much hot, thick gas that light was completely trapped. Much later--perhaps as many as one billion years after the Big Bang--the universe expanded, became more transparent, and eventually filled up with galaxies, planets, stars, and other objects that give off visible light. That's the universe we know today.

How it emerged from the cosmic dark ages to a clearer, light-filled state remains a mystery.

During the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21, NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, captured an image of the Moon's shadow over a large region of the United States, centered just north of Nashville, Tennessee.

As LRO crossed the lunar south pole heading north at 3,579 mph (1,600 meters per second), the shadow of the Moon was racing across the United States at 1,500 mph (670 meters per second).

[Toronto] A team of astronomers has observed the magnetic field of a galaxy five billion light-years from Earth. The galaxy is the most distant in which a coherent magnetic field has been observed and provides important insight into how magnetism in the Universe formed and evolved.

The observation shows a magnetic field of a similar strength and configuration to that seen in our own Milky Way Galaxy, even though the distant galaxy is five billion years younger than ours. This is evidence that galactic magnetic fields form early in a galaxy's life and remain relatively stable.

ATLANTA--An international team of astronomers has used a new algorithm to enhance observations from the NASA Kepler Space Telescope in its K2 Mission and perform the most detailed study yet of the variability of the Seven Sisters star cluster.