A Moon of Saturn Is Habitable

Today Earthlings came one very giant step closer to finding life elsewhere in our solar system. In the final months of its 20-year mission, the spacecraft Cassini delivered its most noteworthy revelation yet: the ocean of Enceladus, a moon of Saturn, is releasing hydrogen, an energy source for some microorganisms. In other words, that ocean…

Cassini probe shoots through Saturn’s rings

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has successfully executed its daring dive through the 1,500-mile-wide gap between Saturn and its rings, the first time a man-made object has navigated through the icy halo that hugs the gas giant. Controllers operating the Deep Space Network antenna in Goldstone, California confirmed data collected during its passage was being received from…

Saturn’s moon, Enceladus, could support life

The main illustration shows Cassini diving through the Enceladus plume in 2015. New ocean world discoveries from Cassini and Hubble will help inform future exploration and the broader search for life beyond Earth. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech) In a major press announcement, NASA announced Enceladus, Saturn’s moon, could support life thanks to the presence of hydrogen discovered….

Black Hole Swallowing a Star Mistaken for Brightest Supernova

The universe’s brightest supernova ever may be something far more rare. An extraordinary display of light in a distant galaxy that had been previously dubbed brightest supernova ever turned out to be a giant black hole tearing apart a massive star. The luminous event, named ASASSN-15lh, took place in 2015, inside a galaxy 4 billion…

A tour of our solar system

Our solar system is a fascinating place. For decades, ambitious engineers and scientists around the world have been sending brave humans and robotic emissaries deep into our solar system to see what they could find. They’ve learned a lot, with 2016 marking major milestones in space exploration. The Cassini spacecraft has revealed previously unknown truths…

Bizarre Hexagon on Saturn Shines

A stunning new photo of Saturn’s north pole spotlights the planet’s bizarre hexagon-shaped vortex and beautiful bands of swirling winds. NASA’s Cassini spacecraft captured this dramatic view on Sept. 5, as the probe flew 890,000 miles (1.4 million kilometers) above the planet. The image, which NASA released Monday (Nov. 14), looks toward the sunlit side…

If you like the northern lights, Jupiter takes them to the next level

If you want to see beautiful auroras, forget Alaska, Canada, and Iceland—check out Jupiter. At the gas giant’s north pole, the most powerful and luminous northern lights in the solar system shimmer and glow in an endless geomagnetic storm that’s larger than our entire planet.

The first galaxies came together in three minutes (video)

Minute Physics pieces together what we know about the great-great-grandfathers of galaxies that we see today. The Milky Way is just one of 100 billion galaxies in the universe, and each one is a bit of a time capsule. Thanks to their immense distance, we see them as they were milions or even billions of…

Measuring a massive black hole

It’s about 660 million times as massive as our sun, and a cloud of gas circles it at about 1.1 million mph. This supermassive black hole sits at the center of a galaxy dubbed NGC 1332, which is 73 million light years from Earth. And an international team of scientists that includes Rutgers associate professor…

Shockwave Of An Exploding Star

Shockwaves (aka a “shock breakout”) like this only last for 20 minutes, so it was really exciting for astronomers to capture the moment, which they recorded as a sudden flare of optical light from a distant star. The shock breakout is the initial flash of brightness from the explosion that precedes the big event, as…