NASA's NuSTAR untangles mystery of how stars explode

One of the biggest mysteries in astronomy, how stars blow up in supernova explosions, finally is being unraveled with the help of NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR).

When a black hole shreds a star, a bright flare tells the story

Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz uses computer simulations to explore the universe's most violent events, so when the first detailed observations of a star being ripped apart by a black hole were reported in 2012 (Gezari et al., Nature), he was eager to compare the data with his simulations. He was also highly skeptical of one of the published conclusions: that the disrupted star was a rare helium star.

NASA responds to potential asteroid redirect mission targets

One year ago, on Feb. 15, 2013, the world was witness to the dangers presented by near-Earth Objects (NEOs) when a relatively small asteroid entered Earth's atmosphere, exploding over Chelyabinsk, Russia, and releasing more energy than a large atomic bomb.

Sunspots like pinwheels

Sunspots come in many sizes and shapes and are locations of strong magnetic fields that extend from below the solar surface through the solar atmosphere into the interplanetary medium. They are also the locations of eruptive phenomena, such as flares, that release a tremendous amount of energy and can disrupt technology on Earth.

Mars Rover heads uphill after solving 'Doughnut' riddle

Researchers have determined the now-infamous Martian rock resembling a jelly doughnut, dubbed Pinnacle Island, is a piece of a larger rock broken and moved by the wheel of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity in early January.

Space station SPHERES run circles around ordinary satellites

These are, in fact, the droids that NASA and its research partners are looking for. Inspired by a floating droid battling Luke Skywalker in the film Star Wars, the free-flying satellites known as Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) have been flying aboard the International Space Station since Expedition 8 in 2003.

LADEE sends Its first images of the moon back to Earth

Earlier this month, NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) observatory successfully downlinked images of the moon and stars taken by onboard camera systems, known as star trackers. This is the first time the LADEE team commanded the spacecraft to send these pictures back to Earth.

2014 is a good year to find a comet

A team of European astronomers has found a previously unknown comet, detected as a tiny blob of light orbiting our Sun deep in the Solar System. Europe’s Teide Observatory Tenerife Asteroid Survey team has been credited with discovering comet P/2014 C1, named ‘TOTAS’ in recognition of the teamwork involved in the find.

IBEX helps paint picture of the magnetic system beyond the solar wind

Understanding the region of interstellar space through which the solar system travels is no easy task. Interstellar space begins beyond the heliosphere, the bubble of charged particles surrounding the sun that reaches far beyond the outer planets. Voyager 1 has crossed into this space, but it’s difficult to gain a complete global picture from measurements in only one direction.

NASA moves longest-serving Mars spacecraft for new observations

NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft has tweaked its orbit to help scientists make the first systematic observations of how morning fogs, clouds and surface frost develop in different seasons on the Red Planet.

Largest solar system moon detailed in geologic map

More than 400 years after its discovery by astronomer Galileo Galilei, the largest moon in the solar system – Jupiter's moon Ganymede – has finally claimed a spot on the map.

How stellar death can lead to twin celestial jets

Astronomers know that while large stars can end their lives as violently cataclysmic supernovae, smaller stars end up as planetary nebulae — colorful, glowing clouds of dust and gas.

NASA's Curiosity rover drives on after crossing Martian dune

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover is continuing its traverse toward enticing science destinations after climbing over a dune spanning a gap in a ridge.

Source of ‘moon curse’ revealed by eclipse

Strange events have long been linked to nights of a full moon, though careful scrutiny dispels any association. So, when signals bounced off the lunar surface returned surprisingly faint echoes on full moon nights, scientists sought an explanation in reason rather than superstition. Still, the most compelling evidence arrived during another event that once evoked irrational fears—on a night when Earth's shadow eclipsed the full moon.

NASA spacecraft get a 360-degree view of Saturn's auroras

NASA trained several pairs of eyes on Saturn as the planet put on a dancing light show at its poles. While NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, orbiting around Earth, was able to observe the northern auroras in ultraviolet wavelengths, NASA's Cassini spacecraft, orbiting around Saturn, got complementary close-up views in infrared, visible-light and ultraviolet wavelengths. Cassini could also see northern and southern parts of Saturn that don't face Earth.

NASA wants better batteries for electric vehicles

Electricity producing batteries are a vital part of daily life on Earth and in space. Power storage devices keep spacecraft operating, cars running, cell phones connected and flashlights lit. The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) now is funding 22 projects across 15 states with a total of $36 million to develop better, more efficient power sources for electric vehicles (EV).

Galileo satellite checks in (orbit)

The in-orbit validation of Galileo has been achieved: Europe now has the operational nucleus of its own satellite navigation constellation in place – the world’s first civil-owned and operated satnav system. In 2011 and 2012 the first four satellites were launched into orbit. Four is the minimum number needed to perform navigation fixes.

NASA Mars Orbiters spots clues to possible water flows

NASA spacecraft orbiting Mars have returned clues for understanding seasonal features that are the strongest indication of possible liquid water that may exist today on the Red Planet.

Billion-star surveyor comes into focus

ESA’s billion-star surveyor Gaia is slowly being brought into focus. This test image shows a dense cluster of stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of our Milky Way.

Looking back to the cradle of our Universe

NASA's Spitzer and Hubble Space Telescopes have spotted what might be one of the most distant galaxies known, harkening back to a time when our universe was only about 650 million years old (our universe is 13.8 billion years old). The galaxy, known as Abell2744 Y1, is about 30 times smaller than our Milky Way galaxy and is producing about 10 times more stars, as is typical for galaxies in our young universe.