Heavens

On July 4, NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) finished its primary mission, imaging about 75% of the starry sky as part of a two-year-long survey. In capturing this giant mosaic, TESS has found 66 new exoplanets, or worlds beyond our solar system, as well as nearly 2,100 candidates astronomers are working to confirm.

Astronomers have applied artificial intelligence (AI) to ultra-wide field-of-view images of the distant Universe captured by the Subaru Telescope, and have achieved a very high accuracy for finding and classifying spiral galaxies in those images. This technique, in combination with citizen science, is expected to yield further discoveries in the future.

Scientists have made a key discovery thanks to stardust found in meteorites, shedding light on the origin of crucial chemical elements.

Meteorites are critical to understanding the beginning of our solar system and how it has evolved over time. However, some meteorites contain grains of stardust that predate the formation of our solar system and are now providing important information about how the elements in the universe formed.

Helium is the second most abundant element in the universe after hydrogen. But scientists aren't sure just how much there actually is in the Sun's atmosphere, where it is hard to measure. Knowing the amount of helium in the solar atmosphere is important to understanding the origin and acceleration of the solar wind - the constant stream of charged particles from the Sun.

Every night on Mars, when the sun sets and temperatures fall to minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit and below, an eerie phenomenon spreads across much of the planet's sky: a soft glow created by chemical reactions occurring tens of miles above the surface.

An astronaut standing on Mars couldn't see this "nightglow"--it shows up only as ultraviolet light. But it may one day help scientists to better predict the churn of Mars' surprisingly complex atmosphere.

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) took a census of stellar eggs in the constellation Taurus and revealed their evolution state. This census helps researchers understand how and when a stellar embryo transforms to a baby star deep inside a gaseous egg. In addition, the team found a bipolar outflow, a pair of gas streams, that could be telltale evidence of a truly newborn star.

Taking advantage of a total lunar eclipse, astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have detected ozone in Earth's atmosphere. This method serves as a proxy for how they will observe Earth-like planets around other stars in the search for life. This is the first time a total lunar eclipse was captured from a space telescope and the first time such an eclipse has been studied in ultraviolet wavelengths.

Consider it Earth's ultimate mirror selfie.

In a new study, a team led by astrophysicist Allison Youngblood at the University of Colorado Boulder set out to achieve something new in planetary photography: The group used the Hubble Space Telescope to try to view Earth as if it were an exoplanet--or a world orbiting a star many light years from our own.

It wasn't easy: To capture Earth as an alien world, the researchers had to use the moon as a giant mirror, recording sunlight that had passed through our planet's atmosphere, bounced off the lunar surface and come back.

Astronomers using several telescopes at NOIRLab, including the Southern Astrophysical Research (SOAR) Telescope, have obtained critical data on a particular type of exploding star that produces copious amounts of calcium. The calcium produced in this unique type of supernova explosion is the same calcium found in our bones and teeth and these events account for up to half of the calcium found in the Universe.

Scientists have developed a new prediction of the shape of the bubble surrounding our solar system using a model developed with data from NASA missions.

HOUSTON - (Aug. 5, 2020) - Using data from NASA's InSight Lander on Mars, Rice University seismologists have made the first direct measurements of three subsurface boundaries from the crust to the core of the red planet.

EVANSTON, Ill. -- Half of all the calcium in the universe -- including the very calcium in our teeth and bones -- was created in the last gasp of dying stars.

Called "calcium-rich supernovae," these stellar explosions are so rare that astrophysicists have struggled to find and subsequently study them. The nature of these supernovae and their mechanism for creating calcium, therefore, have remained elusive.

Called "calcium-rich supernovae," these stellar explosions are so rare that astrophysicists have struggled to find and subsequently study them. The nature of these supernovae and their mechanism for creating calcium, therefore, have remained elusive.

All the chemical elements in the universe, except for hydrogen and most of the helium, were produced inside stars. But among them there are a few (carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, sulphur and phosphorus) which are particularly interesting because they are basic to life as we know it on Earth. Phosphorus is of special interest because it forms part of the DNA and RNA molecules and is a necessary element in the energetic interchange within cells, and for the development of their membranes.

New detailed observations with NSF's NOIRLab facilities reveal a young exoplanet, orbiting a young star in the Hyades cluster, that is unusually dense for its size and age. Weighing in at 25 Earth-masses, and slightly smaller than Neptune, this exoplanet's existence is at odds with the predictions of leading planet formation theories.