ALMA reveals ghostly shape of ‘coldest place in the universe’

At a cosmologically crisp one degree Kelvin (minus 458 degrees Fahrenheit), the Boomerang Nebula is the coldest known object in the Universe – colder, in fact, than the faint afterglow of the Big Bang, which is the natural background temperature of space.

Mars Rover Opportunity heads uphill

Earlier this week, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover began climbing "Solander Point," the northern tip of the tallest hill it has encountered in the mission's nearly 10 Earth years on Mars.

A glimpse of the violent past of Milky Way's giant black hole

Researchers using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory have found evidence that the normally dim region very close to the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy flared up with at least two luminous outbursts in the past few hundred years.

When galaxies collide: the growth of supermassive black holes

Galaxies may look pretty and delicate, with their swirls of stars of many colours – but don’t be fooled. At the heart of every galaxy lies a supermassive black hole, including in our own Milky Way.

Space cargo craft throughout the years

The first Cygnus Spacecraft to visit the International Space Station (ISS), the G. David Low, departed the station at 7:31 AM EST on October 22, 2013. The Cygnus spacecraft is the latest in a long line of cargo vehicles built to resupply the orbital outposts that humanity has positioned in the heavens.

NASA sets record with data connection to Moon; suck it, AT&T U-verse!

Apparently, my U-verse rep is right, getting Internet access is rocket science and I should stop screaming at him. As for its Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD), NASA has demonstrated a new record for data transmission using lasers. Communicating with laser sounds so cool, dude!

ESA's Planck spacecraft on course for safe retirement

In preparation for its final switch-off on 23 October, mission controllers today fired Planck’s thrusters to empty its fuel tanks. The burn is one of the final steps to ensure that Planck ends its hugely successful mission in a permanently safe configuration.

Long-sought pattern of ancient light detected

The journey of light from the very early universe to modern telescopes is long and winding. The ancient light traveled billions of years to reach us, and along the way, its path was distorted by the pull of matter, leading to a twisted light pattern.

Managing the deluge of 'Big Data' from space

For NASA and its dozens of missions, data pour in every day like rushing rivers. Spacecraft monitor everything from our home planet to faraway galaxies, beaming back images and information to Earth. All those digital records need to be stored, indexed and processed so that spacecraft engineers, scientists and people across the globe can use the data to understand Earth and the universe beyond.

Sky survey captures key details of cosmic explosions

Developed to help scientists learn more about the complex nature of celestial objects in the universe, astronomical surveys have been cataloguing the night sky since the beginning of the 20th century. The intermediate Palomar Transient Factory (iPTF)—led by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech)—started searching the skies for certain types of stars and related phenomena in February.

Rings, dark side of Saturn glow in new Cassini image

The gauzy rings of Saturn and the dark side of the planet glow in newly released infrared images obtained by NASA's Cassini spacecraft.

NASA's Hubble sees Comet ISON intact

A new image of the sunward plunging comet ISON suggests that the comet is intact despite some predictions that the fragile icy nucleus might disintegrate as the sun warms it. The comet will pass closest to the sun on Nov. 28.

ALMA probes mysteries of jets from giant black holes

There are supermassive black holes -- with masses up to several billion solar masses -- at the hearts of almost all galaxies in the Universe, including our own galaxy, the Milky Way.

Curiosity confirms origins of Martian meteorite

Earth’s most eminent emissary to Mars has just proven that those rare Martian visitors that sometimes drop in on Earth — a.k.a. Martian meteorites — really are from the Red Planet. A key new measurement of Mars’ atmosphere by NASA’s Curiosity rover provides the most definitive evidence yet of the origins of Mars meteorites while at the same time providing a way to rule out Martian origins of other meteorites.

Rosetta spacecraft wakes up in 100 days

ESA’s comet-chasing mission Rosetta will wake up in 100 days’ time from deep-space hibernation to reach the destination it has been cruising towards for a decade. Comets are the primitive building blocks of the Solar System and the likely source of much of Earth’s water, perhaps even delivering to Earth the ingredients that helped life evolve.

Understanding Martian scars

Ripped apart by tectonic forces, Hebes Chasma and its neighbouring network of canyons bear the scars of the Red Planet’s early history. ESA’s Mars Express has flown over this region of Mars on numerous occasions, but this new eight-image mosaic reveals Hebes Chasma in full and in greater detail than ever (click image for full mosaic).

Watery asteroid discovered in dying star points to habitable exoplanets

Astronomers have found the shattered remains of an asteroid that contained huge amounts of water orbiting an exhausted star, or white dwarf. This suggests that the star GD 61 and its planetary system – located about 150 light years away and at the end of its life – had the potential to contain Earth-like exoplanets, they say.

Water discovered in remnants of extrasolar rocky world orbiting white dwarf

Astrophysicists have found the first evidence of a water-rich rocky planetary body outside our solar system in its shattered remains orbiting a white dwarf. A new study by scientists at the Universities of Warwick and Cambridge published in the journal Science analysed the dust and debris surrounding the white dwarf star GD61 170 light years away.

Soft shells and strange star clusters

GC 6240 is an elliptical galaxy that resembles a pale rose in the sky, with hazy shells of stars encircling a very bright centre. Some of these shells are packed close to the centre of the galaxy, while others are flung further out into space. Several wisps of material have been thrown so far that they appear to be almost detached from the galaxy altogether.

Zooming in on the Toby Jug Nebula

Located about 1200 light-years from Earth in the southern constellation of Carina (The Ship's Keel), the Toby Jug Nebula, more formally known as IC 2220, is an example of a reflection nebula. It is a cloud of gas and dust illuminated from within by a star called HD 65750.