Articles on Astronomy

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A computer-generated artists impression of the thousands of objects in orbit around Earth. AFP

Space junk and the environment: it’s a very dark picture indeed

Since the launch of the first artificial satellite in 1957 – the Soviet Union’s Sputnik 1 – countries around the world have been putting satellites and spacecraft into Earth orbit. While the majority of…
Is that a planet, a galaxy or a Rosetta Stone? ichewmylips

The Astronomer’s Holy Grail

A vital part of professional astronomy is collecting data using large telescopes. In many cases, these telescopes are national or international facilities, with time available to all through a competitive…
When a black hole devours a nearby star, bright gamma-ray flashes can result. Mark Garlick (University of Warwick)

Death of a star: how radio waves can capture a cosmic obituary

Some 3.8 billion years ago a star in the constellation of Draco wandered a little too close to a nearby black hole. The star was violently torn apart by the black hole’s tidal forces, creating two massive…

Black hole eats star

A bright flash of gamma rays in March may have been the result of a star the size of our sun falling into a massive black…
Despite centuries of study and folklore, we’re still not over the moon. ~BostonBill~

Chile volcano could turn tomorrow’s lunar eclipse red

What do Chile’s recent volcanic eruptions and tomorrow morning’s total lunar eclipse have in common? Well … Just before sunrise, Earth’s shadow will totally hide the normally-bright moon for about 100…
You wouldn’t believe what modern telescopes can do. Professor Fumolatro/Flickr

Will we ever see the Big Bang?

Last week, scientists set a new distance record, seeing a burst of gamma-rays from a star that exploded when the universe was only 520 million years old. The light from this distant source has been travelling…
Amelia Fraser-McKelvie (centre) with supervisors Dr Jasmina Lazendic-Galloway (left) and Dr Kevin Pimbblet (right). Image courtesy of Monash University

Student solves ‘missing mass’ riddle

An undergraduate astrophysics student at Monash University has detected some of the universe’s “missing mass”, solving a…
The universe teems with energy and matter we don’t understand. stuant63/Flickr

Adventures in the dark side of cosmology

In questioning the fundamental nature of the universe, cosmology regularly grabs the public’s attention. But in an era in which we are observing deeper and more widely than ever before, our knowledge of…
Is it a plane? No, it’s Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics. William West/AFP

Superman returns – but who’s looking after his water?

Watching films such as Superman Returns or The Day after Tomorrow, you would have seen dramatic sequences of surging water and crumbling buildings. While doing so, mathematics was probably the last thing…
Is your stress from Venus, your pressure from Mars? Not likely.

Altered mind this morning? Hehe, just blame the planets

Today, and for the next month, four major planets are aligned above us: Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter. Are we interested? Of course we are. From the very beginning of human history we’ve been obsessed…
There’s something happening, but it’s way above your head. bluedharma/Flickr

Look out, world, the planets are aligning

Four planets – Mercury, Mars, Jupiter and Venus – will be aligned at dawn tomorrow. What does this mean? Should we be running for the hills? You’d be forgiven for thinking so. A search on Google or YouTube…

Spacemen’s hardening arteries

Exposure to cosmic radiation may be detrimental to astronauts’ arteries, according to a study by University of Alabama at…
Scientists believe dark matter makes up 23% of the universe. NASA

New chatter on dark matter

Dark matter has worked its way back into the news in the last few days with the completion of a detection experiment in a tunnel deep under the Italian Alps. Researchers from Columbia University used a…
Are CSIRO’s ASKAP antennas in Boolardy a precursor to greater things? By Ant Schinckel, CSIRO

Hip hip hooray for the (Aussie?) Square Kilometre Array

We know a lot about what the universe looks like and how it works. But what we’ve been able to figure out about the cosmos is dwarfed by all the things we don’t know. How do galaxies, stars and planets…
Viewed from afar, the Milky Way might appear similar to the galaxy known as NGC 7331. R. Jay GaBany/NASA

Explainer: a beginner’s guide to the galaxy

Where are we within our galaxy? How did our galaxy form? How did it evolve over the aeons? Astronomers have been asking these questions for the past century, and have recently begun discerning the answers…

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