Saturn viewed via spacecraft, half illuminated.

Are Saturn’s rings young or old?

Cassini data suggested that Saturn’s rings were only 10 to 100 million years old. A new study suggests that a “ring rain” onto Saturn makes the rings look younger than they really are, and that in fact Saturn’s rings date back billions of years.

Green blob in galaxy.

Mystery green blob appears and disappears in distant galaxy

What is ULX-4 – a mystery green blob of X-ray light that appeared in the Fireworks Galaxy – and then soon disappeared again? A black hole or neutron star are 2 possibilities.

Shiny blue balls in a white circular net.

Milky Way’s black hole appears to be getting hungrier

“We have never seen anything like this in the 24 years we have studied the supermassive black hole. It’s usually a pretty quiet, wimpy black hole on a diet. We don’t know what is driving this big feast.”

Two planets orbiting a red dwarf star.

Is K2-18b really a habitable super-Earth?

It was exciting last week when scientists announced water vapor in a super-Earth’s atmosphere. But, even as the announcement came, other scientists were cautioning that the planet – K2-18b – is probably less like a super-Earth and more like a mini-Neptune.

A distant galaxy’s black hole seen to flare unexpectedly

Astronomers now call recently-discovered flares from supermassive black holes in distant galaxies quasi-periodic eruptions. “Giant black holes regularly flicker like a candle but the rapid, repeating changes seen in GSN 069 from December onwards are something completely new,” said one scientist.

Astronomers spy a 2nd interstellar visitor

Astronomers think the object they’ve labeled C/2019 Q4 – discovered August 30 – came from a place far, far away. If confirmed, it’s only the 2nd interstellar object ever detected, after ‘Oumuamua in 2017.

Wiggly gray outline with a bright yellow-orange blob in the center, against black background.

Scientists detect towering balloon-like structure near Milky Way’s center

It’s a huge bipolar gas structure, hundreds of light-years across, centered on our galaxy’s center and near the galaxy’s central supermassive black hole. Astronomers found it with the new, supersensitive MeerKAT telescope in South Africa.

Super-Earth exoplanet.

Scientists find water vapor in a super-Earth’s atmosphere

It’s a first-ever detection of water vapor in a super-Earth’s atmosphere, orbiting in the habitable zone of its star, 110 light-years away. The discovery supports the possibility that our galaxy contains many such habitable worlds.

Artist's depiction of looking through haze at a large Titan lake.

Did underground explosions create Titan’s lakes?

The lakes on Saturn’s moon Titan are filled with liquid methane, not water, and some are surrounded by steep rims. A new study suggests these features might have been caused by explosions of warming nitrogen, which created Titan’s lake basins long ago.

Shedding light on black holes

How much of what think you know about black holes is true, and how much is myth? To separate fact from fiction, check out this 4-minute vIdeo from NASA.