Closest, brightest supernova in decades is also a little weird

A bright supernova discovered only six weeks ago in a nearby galaxy is provoking new questions about the exploding stars that scientists use as their main yardstick for measuring the universe.

NASA's Kepler finds 715 new worlds

Earlier this week, NASA's Kepler mission announced the discovery of 715 new planets. These newly-verified worlds orbit 305 stars, revealing multiple-planet systems much like our own solar system.

Sentinel 1 satellite spreads its wings

When Sentinel-1 is placed in orbit around Earth in a few weeks, it has to perform a complicated dance routine to unfold its large solar wings and radar antenna. Engineers have recently been making sure the moves are well rehearsed.

Spitzer stares into the heart of new supernova in M82

The closest supernova of its kind to be observed in the last few decades has sparked a global observing campaign involving legions of instruments on the ground and in space, including NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. With its dust-piercing infrared vision, Spitzer brings an important perspective to this effort by peering directly into the heart of the aftermath of the stellar explosion.

NASA eyes four spacecraft to study magnetic reconnection

First thing every morning, the engineering team for NASA's Magnetospheric Multiscale mission gathers for a 10-minute meeting. A white board sits at the front of the room with the day's assignments – who will wrap tape around the wires, which instruments need to be installed where, which observatory needs to undergo its next test.

Water detected on planet outside our solar system

Water has been detected in the atmosphere of a planet outside our solar system with a new technique that could help researchers to learn how many planets with water, like Earth, exist throughout the universe.

Stream of stars in Andromeda satellite galaxy shows cosmic collision

The Andromeda Galaxy is surrounded by a swarm of small satellite galaxies. Researchers from the Niels Bohr Institute, among others, have detected a stream of stars in one of the Andromeda Galaxy's outer satellite galaxies, a dwarf galaxy called Andromeda II.

Galactic diamonds in the tail of the scorpion

Messier 7, also known as NGC 6475, is a brilliant cluster of about 100 stars located some 800 light-years from Earth. In this new picture from the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope it stands out against a very rich background of hundreds of thousands of fainter stars, in the direction of the centre of the Milky Way.

Astronomers find solar storms behave like supernovae

Researchers at UCL have studied the behaviour of the Sun's coronal mass ejections, explaining for the first time the details of how these huge eruptions behave as they fall back onto the Sun’s surface. In the process, they have discovered that coronal mass ejections have a surprising twin in the depths of space: the tendrils of gas in the Crab Nebula, which lie 6500 light-years away and are millions of times larger.

NASA's smart SPHERES are about to get a whole lot smarter

Smart devices – such as tablets and phones – increasingly are an essential part of everyday life on Earth. The same can be said for life off-planet aboard the International Space Station. From astronaut tweets to Google+ Hangouts, our reliance on these mobile and social technologies means equipment and software upgrades are an everyday occurrence – like buying a new pair of shoes to replace a pair of well-worn ones.

The gas cloud where stars are born

Using a telescope installed at the driest place on earth - Ridge A in Antarctica – a UNSW-led team of researchers has identified a giant gas cloud which appears to be in an early stage of formation. Giant clouds of molecular gas – the most massive objects in our galaxy – are the birthplaces of stars.

Let's go planet hunting

A space-based observatory to search for planets orbiting alien stars has been selected today as ESA’s third medium-class science mission. It is planned for launch by 2024. The PLATO – Planetary Transits and Oscillations of stars – mission was selected by ESA’s Science Programme Committee for implementation as part of its Cosmic Vision 2015–25 Programme.

Rocks around the clock: Asteroids pound tiny star

Scientists using CSIRO's Parkes telescope and another telescope in South Africa have found evidence that a tiny star called PSR J0738-4042 is being pounded by asteroids — large lumps of rock from space.

With a deadly embrace, 'Spidery' pulsars consume their mates

Black widow spiders and their Australian cousins, known as redbacks, are notorious for their tainted love, expressed as an unsettling tendency to kill and devour their male partners. Astronomers have noted similar behavior among two rare breeds of binary system that contain rapidly spinning neutron stars, also known as pulsars.

NASA finds planet-sized space weather explosions on Venus

Researchers recently discovered that a common space weather phenomenon on the outskirts of Earth’s magnetic bubble, the magnetosphere, has much larger repercussions for Venus. The giant explosions, called hot flow anomalies, can be so large at Venus that they’re bigger than the entire planet and they can happen multiple times a day.

NASA's Curiosity adds reverse driving for wheel protection on Mars

Terrain that NASA's Curiosity Mars rover is now crossing is as smooth as team members had anticipated based on earlier images from orbit. On Tuesday, Feb. 18, the rover covered 329 feet (100.3 meters), the mission's first long trek that used reverse driving and its farthest one-day advance of any kind in more than three months.

RXTE reveals the cloudy cores of active galaxies

Picture a single cloud large enough to span the solar system from the sun to beyond Pluto's orbit. Now imagine many such clouds orbiting in a vast ring at the heart of a distant galaxy, occasionally dimming the X-ray light produced by the galaxy's monster black hole.

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.