Black holes don't make a big splash

Throughout our universe, tucked inside galaxies far, far away, giant black holes are pairing up and merging. As the massive bodies dance around each other in close embraces, they send out gravitational waves that ripple space and time themselves, even as the waves pass right through our planet Earth.

From one collapsing star, two black holes form and fuse

Black holes—massive objects in space with gravitational forces so strong that not even light can escape them—come in a variety of sizes. On the smaller end of the scale are the stellar-mass black holes that are formed during the deaths of stars. At the larger end are supermassive black holes, which contain up to one billion times the mass of our sun.

NASA and international researchers obtain crucial data from meteoroid impact

A team of NASA and international scientists for the first time have gathered a detailed understanding of the effects on Earth from a small asteroid impact. The unprecedented data obtained as the result of the airburst of a meteoroid over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk on Feb. 15, 2013, has revolutionized scientists' understanding of this natural phenomenon.

Astronomers answer key question: How common are habitable planets?

NASA's Kepler spacecraft, now crippled and its four-year mission at an end, nevertheless provided enough data to complete its mission objective: to determine how many of the 100 billion stars in our galaxy have potentially habitable planets.

Black hole found in star cluster

Last year when a team of astronomers led by a Michigan State University professor discovered two black holes in a collection of stars known as a globular cluster, the team wasn't sure if the black holes' presence was a common occurrence or a unique stroke of luck.

Researchers develop cutting-edge detector technology for astronomical observations

Semiconductors have had a nice run, but for certain applications, such as astrophysics, they are being edged out by superconductors. Ben Mazin, assistant professor of physics at UC Santa Barbara, has developed a superconducting detector array that measures the energy of individual photons.

NASA's Kepler ushers in a new era of astronomy

Scientists from around the world are gathered this week at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., for the second Kepler Science Conference, where they will discuss the latest findings resulting from the analysis of Kepler Space Telescope data. Included in these findings is the discovery of 833 new candidate planets, which will be announced today by the Kepler team.

10 year old boy discovers supernova 600 million light years away

Canadian Nathan Gray has discovered a supernova in the field of the galaxy designated PGC 61330, which lies in the constellation of Draco (the dragon). Winning the hearts and minds of boys everywhere, Nathan has taken the title from his sister, Kathryn, who was the youngest supernova discoverer back in 2010. 

Magnetic ‘force field’ shields giant gas cloud during collision with Milky Way

Doom may be averted for the Smith Cloud, a gigantic streamer of hydrogen gas that is on a collision course with the Milky Way Galaxy. Astronomers using the National Science Foundation’s Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) and Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT) have discovered a magnetic field deep in the cloud’s interior, which may protect it during its meteoric plunge into the disk of our Galaxy.

Suzaku study points to early cosmic 'seeding'

Most of the universe's heavy elements, including the iron central to life itself, formed early in cosmic history and spread throughout the universe, according to a new study of the Perseus Galaxy Cluster using Japan's Suzaku satellite.

Former missile-tracking telescope helps reveal fate of baby pulsar

A radio telescope once used to track ballistic missiles has helped astronomers determine how the magnetic field structure and rotation of the young and rapidly rotating Crab pulsar evolves with time. The findings are published in the journal Science today (Friday).

Galaxy growth examined like rings of a tree

Watching a tree grow might be more frustrating than waiting for a pot to boil, but luckily for biologists, there are tree rings. Beginning at a tree trunk's dense core and moving out to the soft bark, the passage of time is marked by concentric rings, revealing chapters of the tree's history.

Mystery world baffles astronomers

Kepler-78b is a planet that shouldn't exist. This scorching lava world circles its star every eight and a half hours at a distance of less than one million miles - one of the tightest known orbits. According to current theories of planet formation, it couldn't have formed so close to its star, nor could it have moved there.

NASA advances world's first spaceborne sodium LIDAR

It's used as a coolant in nuclear power plants and as a desiccant to remove humidity that otherwise would ruin moisture-sensitive products. Found in every cell in the human body, it transmits nerve impulses and regulates blood pressure.

NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover approaches 'Cooperstown'

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity completed its first two-day autonomous drive Monday, bringing the mobile laboratory to a good vantage point for pictures useful in selecting the next target the rover will reach out and touch.

A ghostly trio from NASA's Spitzer space telescope

In the spirit of Halloween, scientists are releasing a trio of stellar ghosts caught in infrared light by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. All three spooky structures, called planetary nebulas, are in fact material ejected from dying stars. As death beckoned, the stars' wispy bits and pieces were blown into outer space.

Preserving the legacy of the X-ray universe

Every year, October is designated as American Archive Month. While many people may think “archive” means only dusty books and letters, there are, in fact, many other types of important archives. This includes the use of archives for major telescopes and observatories like NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory.

NASA's Orion spacecraft comes to life

NASA's first-ever deep space craft, Orion, has been powered on for the first time, marking a major milestone in the final year of preparations for flight. Orion's avionics system was installed on the crew module and powered up for a series of systems tests at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida last week.

Scientists solve mystery of odd patterns of oxygen in solar system's earliest rocks

Cosmochemists have solved a long standing mystery in the formation of the solar system: Oxygen, the most abundant element in Earth's crust, follows a strange, anomalous pattern in the oldest, most pristine rocks, one that must result from a different chemical process than the well-understood reactions that form minerals containing oxygen on Earth.

Cassini swings above Saturn to compose a portrait

It's a view as good as gold. A loop high above Saturn by NASA's Cassini spacecraft revealed this stately view of the golden-hued planet and its main rings. The observation and resulting image mosaic were planned as one of three images for Cassini's 2013 Scientist for a Day essay contest.