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Astronomers find weird rogue world with wild auroras

This free-floating rogue planet – untethered to any star – has a magnetic field millions of times more powerful than Earth’s and auroras much more brilliant than our world’s northern lights.

Wow! Zoom to the Milky Way’s center

Decades of work have gone into probing the heart of our Milky Way galaxy. Click in for a video showing stars orbiting the 4-million-solar-mass black hole at our galaxy’s core.

Was the outer solar system shaped by a stellar fly-by?

Computer modeling suggests that – billions of years ago, when our solar system was young – a star swept near, stealing some of our sun’s material and creating the odd orbits of Kuiper Belt objects.

Jupiter’s moon Ganymede has powerful chorus waves

Chorus waves can be converted to sound. The ones around Earth sound like singing or chirping birds. Jupiter has stronger chorus waves, and now its large moon – Ganymede – has been found to have chorus waves a million times stronger than Jupiter’s.

A spacecraft to touch the sun

Launch of the daredevil Parker Solar Probe – which will get closer to the sun than any spacecraft in human history – has been delayed until Sunday, August 12.

How NASA will shield solar probe from crazy heat

The Parker Solar Probe, expected to launch Saturday, will get closer to the sun than any spacecraft in human history. How will the spacecraft withstand the heat?

Astronomers discover new, enigmatic fast radio burst

Fast radio bursts – aka FRBs – are brief, powerful, puzzling bursts of radio waves from deep space. Now astronomers have detected a new and even more unusual type of FRB.

Plate tectonics not necessary for alien life?

New research indicates that plate tectonics may not be necessary for life to evolve after all, increasing the chances that more exoplanets could support life of some kind.

Speck from an asteroid

Viewed under a microscope, it resembles a human hair. But this is actually an extremely precious speck of dust – a tiny sample from the Itokawa asteroid, brought back to Earth by Japan’s Hayabusa mission.

Scientists identify best exoplanets for Earth-like life

Scientists have now identified some exoplanets that might have suitable temperatures for liquid water and enough UV light for the chemistry thought to have led to life on Earth.

Where to look for life on Titan

Saturn’s moon Titan has lakes and seas, filled with liquid ethane and methane. But they might not be the best places to look for life, according to new research.

Dust in space: 10 cool things to know

In space, dust comes from comets and exploding stars. It can form planetary rings, drive global weather patterns and even form the seeds of new planets.

20 years of tracking Near-Earth Objects

Asteroid on a collision course with Earth? These astronomers will likely see it first. NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies – now entering its 3rd decade – makes over 90 percent of near-Earth asteroid and comet discoveries. Here’s how and why they do their work.

How far is a light-year?

How can we comprehend the distances to the stars? This post explains light-years in terms of a scale of miles and kilometers.

An easier way to search for life on Europa

Jupiter’s moon Europa is a promising place to search for evidence of alien life. New research provides insights on what might be the best – and easiest – way to search.

Every point is a galaxy

At first glance, it’s just a square filled with tiny grains of static. But incredible as it is to imagine, every single point of light in this image is actually a distant galaxy, as observed by ESA’s Herschel Space Observatory.

Most Mars dust comes from one place

“Mars wouldn’t be nearly this dusty if it wasn’t for this one enormous deposit that is gradually eroding over time and polluting the planet, essentially.”

Subsurface lake discovered on Mars?

ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft has discovered the 1st evidence for a subsurface liquid lake on Mars. If it exists, this lake is likely salty and cold, but possibly habitable for some microorganisms.

The case for a habitable moon

Not now, but billions of years ago, microbes might have thrived in water pools on the moon until its surface became dead and dry.

Young star caught eating its planet

It had been theorized that some young stars might devour their planets. Now astronomers have the 1st solid evidence – from the Chandra X-ray Observatory – of just such an event caught in the act.