Billions of years from now, Earth’s night sky will change as the Andromeda galaxy rushes toward a merger with the Milky Way.
This illustration depicts what the Andromeda galaxy's gaseous halo might look like if it were visible to humans on Earth. At 3 times the size of the Big Dipper, the halo would be "easily the biggest feature on the nighttime sky," according to NASA
. Image via NASA, ESA, J. DePasquale and E. Wheatley (STScI), and Z. Levay (background image).
Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket successfully launched an uncrewed test flight on October 13, with both its capsule and booster later executing a flawless landing.
Are there worlds out there – orbiting distant stars – even better suited for life than Earth? Might they be older, larger, warmer, wetter and with longer-living stars? Now astronomers have identified 24 possible superhabitable worlds.
Artist's concept of Kepler-186f, the first Earth-sized exoplanet to be discovered in the habitable zone of its star. Some planets like this, and super-Earths, may be "superhabitable" and even better suited for life than Earth is. Image via NASA Ames/ SETI Institute/ JPL-Caltech.
Satellite imagery has revealed that 2 of the fastest-changing glaciers in Antarctica – Pine Island and Thwaites – are fracturing and weakening faster than ever, a step towards the glaciers’ disintegrating and causing sea levels to rise dramatically.
Rift evolution across the ice tongue – a long, narrow ice sheet extending seaward – of Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier (PIG) in September and October of 2018, as seen by the Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission. The video shows the emergence of an ice sheet rift in a region that was previously stable. Image via ESA http://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Images/2020/09/A_break_in_Antarctica_s_Pine_Island_Glacier
New moons generally can’t be seen. They cross the sky with the sun during the day. This month’s new moon happens on October 16 at 19:31 UTC.
Photos from the EarthSky community of the bright planet Mars, now at its best. Earth passed between Mars and the sun – bringing the planet to a once-in-two-years opposition – on October 13, 2020.
View at EarthSky Community Photos
. | Nancy Ricigliano
captured Mars from Long Island, New York, on October 6, using a Celestron 11-inch telescope. She wrote: "I had this telescope for three years. I could never get it collimated right. The week before I said I'm going to get this once and for all. I finally did it and this was my reward." Thank you, Nancy.
Astronomers have spotted a rare blast of light from a star being ripped apart by a supermassive black hole. The phenomenon – known as a tidal disruption event – is the closest such flare recorded to date at just over 215 million light-years from Earth.
This illustration depicts a star (in the foreground) experiencing spaghettification as it’s sucked in by a supermassive black hole (in the background) during a ‘tidal disruption event’. In a new study, a team of astronomers found that when a black hole devours a star, it can launch a powerful blast of material outwards. Image via ESO.
The James Webb Space Telescope – successor to the Hubble – just passed a series of environmental testing trials, designed to simulate the rigors of its anticipated launch in 2021.
The fully assembled James Webb Space Telescope with its sunshield and unitized pallet structures that will fold up around the telescope for launch. Image by NASA.
Today, most life on Earth is supported by oxygen. But ancient microbial mats existed for a billion years before oxygen was present in the atmosphere. So what did life use instead?
Purple microbial mats offer clues to how ancient life functioned. Image via Pieter Visscher