Black Hole Swallowing a Star Mistaken for Brightest Supernova

The universe’s brightest supernova ever may be something far more rareAn 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 light…

Supernovae showered Earth with radioactive debris

An international team of scientists has found evidence of a series of massive supernova explosions near our solar system, which showered the Earth with radioactive debris. The scientists found radioactive iron-60 in sediment and crust samples taken from the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans. The iron-60 was concentrated in a period between 3.2 and 1.7…

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…

A black hole flashing red with the energy of 1,000 Suns

As if black holes needed another horrifyingly weird characteristic, astronomers have observed one of the brightest black hole ‘outbursts’ in years, with each pulse emitting the energy of 1,000 Suns. The event was witnessed back in June 2015 when V404 Cygni, a black hole that lies roughly 7,800 light-years from Earth, dramatically brightened for a…

Milky Way’s black hole spewing cosmic rays

Mysterious high-energy particles known as cosmic rays zip through space at a wide range of energies, some millions of times greater than those produced in the world’s most powerful atom smasher. Scientists have long thought cosmic rays from inside our galaxy come from supernova explosions, but a new study has fingered a second source: the…

Dust in the interstellar wind

Cosmic dust is not simply something to sweep under the rug and forget about. Instead, NSF-funded astronomers are studying and even mapping it to learn more about what it might be hiding from us, where it comes from and what it’s turning into. Some researchers are delving deep down to see how dust comes together…

The Key to the Origin of the Universe

“If you want to know where the universe came from and where it’s going, you need to know about time,” says Joan Vaccaro at the Griffith University’s Center for Quantum Dynamics. “Experiments on subatomic particles over the past 50 years ago show that nature doesn’t treat both directions of time equally. In particular, subatomic particles…

Hawking says his group has solved a black hole puzzle

Stephen Hawking, the world’s most famous living physicist, thinks he has solved a mystery. It’s one that has puzzled scientists for more than 40 years: What happens to information about matter as it falls into a black hole? Black holes are regions in space that contain huge amounts of matter. All that mass is packed…

Links in Time and Space May Form the Universe’s Foundation

  In November, construction workers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology came across a time capsule 942 years too soon. Buried in 1957 and intended for 2957, the capsule was a glass cylinder filled with inert gas to preserve its contents; it was even laced with carbon-14 so that future researchers could confirm the year…

Strange Galaxy Discovered Swept By Fierce Oxygen Winds

“I was actually very surprised to discover that this wind is made mostly of oxygen because nobody has seen a galaxy like this before,” says Anna Lia Longinotti of Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Astrofísica. “Because the galaxy is broadly similar to our own, it raises questions about the history of the Milky Way and the…

A curious cosmic collision revisited

The spectacular aftermath of a 360-million-year-old cosmic collision is revealed in great detail in new images from the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the Paranal Observatory. Among the debris is a rare and mysterious young dwarf galaxy. This galaxy is providing astronomers with an excellent opportunity to learn more about similar…

Quantum Blips Triggered the Formation of Galaxies, Stars, Planets

Data from the Planck telescope have confirmed beyond any reasonable doubt a theory of the quantum origin of structure in the Universe. What exactly happened after the Universe was born? Why did stars, planets and huge galaxies form? These are the questions that concern Viatcheslav Mukhanov, a cosmologist at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich, an expert…