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Study says gravity and Higgs boson interacted to save the universe

View larger. | Time line of the universe via NASA/WMAP Science Team

Time line of the universe via NASA/WMAP Science Team

One startling announcement earlier this year was that the Higgs boson should have made our universe collapse less than one second after it began expanding outward from the Big Bang. The universe did not collapse, and now European physicists say they can explain why without the need for “new physics.”

Venus returning to evening sky!

View larger.| See the little white dot of the planet Venus in the upper right of this photo?  It'll be back to your evening sky in early December.  Helio de Carvalho Vital captured this image on November 18, 2014 from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  He wrote,

View larger.| Venus near the setting sun on November 18, 2014 by Helio de Carvalho Vital in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Helio de Carvalho Vital captured this image of Venus – which will soon return to your western sky after sunset – on November 18, 2014 from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. See the planet? It’s the little white dot in the upper center of this photo. Look inside to learn how he captured it, and when you might see this brightest of planets.

Ten things you might not know about space

Image credit: UltraVISTA/Terapix/CNRS/CASU

Image credit: UltraVISTA/Terapix/CNRS/CASU

Ten oddities and misconceptions about space that you may – or may not – have heard before.

Big Dipper bowl points to star Capella

You've heard of the Big Dipper's

You’ve heard of the Big Dipper’s “pointer” stars? You can use them to find the star Capella, too.

If you can see the Big Dipper tonight, use the top two bowl stars to find the bright star Capella. But can you see the Dipper? Maybe yes, and maybe no. The Big Dipper sits low in the northern sky on November evenings from northerly U.S. latitudes. From southerly U.S. latitudes, and farther south, you can’t see the Dipper at all. It is hidden below the horizon in the evening.

Thud of Philae landing on comet

Today, German scientists released a two-second recording of the sound the Rosetta mission’s Philae lander made when it touched down on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko’s icy surface. Philae landed on the comet, which is about 311 million miles (500 million kilometers) from Earth, last week (November 12, 2014).

What makes a halo around the sun or moon?

Halo around the sun, seen from Sweden on April 24, 2014 and captured by Fotograf Goran Strand.

Halo around the sun, seen from Sweden on April 24, 2014 and captured by Fotograf Goran Strand.

A ring or circle of light around the sun or moon is called a halo by scientists. We get many messages throughout each year from people who’ve just spotted a ring around the sun or moon.

People want to know: what causes a halo around the sun or moon?

Burning questions about winter cold

Snowfall departure from normal October 2014, via Rutgers Snow Lab

Snowfall departure from normal October 2014, via Rutgers Snow Lab

Old Man Winter seems to have gone maverick in the Northern Hemisphere over the last few years. Take 2014 as an example. It’s on track to be the warmest globally in more than a century of record-keeping, with May, June, August, and September all setting world heat records for those particular months. Yet February only managed to tie for 21st warmest globally, mainly because of two regions of prolonged cold across North America and central Eurasia.

One of the highest resolution images of Mercury, ever

Mercury via MESSENGER

This image shows an area at 83.20 degrees North latitude and 267.80 degrees East longitude on Mercury. Resolution 10 meters. Image via NASA / JHU / APL MESSENGER spacecraft.

Here is the sun’s innermost planet, Mercury, imaged on September 15, 2014 by the MESSENGER spacecraft. This is of the highest resolution images of Mercury ever obtained. MESSENGER has been orbiting Mercury since 2011, but now the craft’s fuel is nearly depleted. It is slipping toward Mercury in orbit, and space engineers have been periodically boosting it higher. MESSENGER will impact Mercury in March 2015. For now, we’re getting some of the best-ever Mercury pics.

Sky Bear comes to Earth on November evenings

09nov12_430

In our Northern Hemisphere, the Big Dipper is probably the sky’s best known asterism. In other words, it’s a recognizable pattern of stars — not an official constellation. The Big Dipper is part of the constellation Ursa Major, otherwise known as the Great Bear.

Every year, the Big Dipper (Great Bear) descends to its lowest point in the sky on November evenings. In fact, people in the southern part of the United States can’t see the Big Dipper in the evening right now, because it swings beneath their northern horizon.

This date in science: Edwin Hubble and the expanding universe

This image is the Hubble eXtreme Deep Field, released in 2012.  Read more about this image here.

This is the Hubble eXtreme Deep Field, released in 2012. Nearly every speck of light here is a separate galaxy, beyond our Milky Way.

November 20, 1889. Happy birthday, Edwin Hubble! The Hubble Space Telescope is named for this astronomer. How did this honor come to be? Hubble’s work was pivotal in changing our entire cosmology: our idea of the universe as a whole.