Category Archives: Astronomy

Astronomers say they have spotted the universe’s first stars

Jonathan O’Callaghan writes: A group of astronomers poring over data from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has glimpsed light from ionized helium in a distant galaxy, which could indicate the presence of the universe’s very first generation of stars. These long-sought, inaptly named “Population III” stars would have been ginormous balls of hydrogen and… Read More »

The remarkable emptiness of existence

Paul M Sutter writes: In 1654 a German scientist and politician named Otto von Guericke was supposed to be busy being the mayor of Magdeburg. But instead he was putting on a demonstration for lords of the Holy Roman Empire. With his newfangled invention, a vacuum pump, he sucked the air out of a copper… Read More »

The Webb Telescope is just getting started

The New York Times reports: So far it’s been eye candy from heaven: The black vastness of space teeming with enigmatic, unfathomably distant blobs of light. Ghostly portraits of Neptune, Jupiter and other neighbors we thought we knew already. Nebulas and galaxies made visible by the penetrating infrared eyes of the James Webb Space Telescope.… Read More »

Asymmetry detected in the distribution of galaxies

Katie McCormick writes: Physicists believe they have detected a striking asymmetry in the arrangements of galaxies in the sky. If confirmed, the finding would point to features of the unknown fundamental laws that operated during the Big Bang. “If this result is real, someone’s going to get a Nobel Prize,” said Marc Kamionkowski, a physicist at… Read More »

Why this universe is more likely than any other

Charlie Wood writes: Cosmologists have spent decades striving to understand why our universe is so stunningly vanilla. Not only is it smooth and flat as far as we can see, but it’s also expanding at an ever-so-slowly increasing pace, when naïve calculations suggest that — coming out of the Big Bang — space should have… Read More »

Should we really be messing with asteroid orbits?

Caleb Scharf writes: Things go bump in the cosmic night all the time. Rocky objects collide in planetary systems across our galaxy, providing astute astronomers with telltale signatures of warmly glowing dust from these grinding impacts. Stellar remnants like neutron stars can crash together unleashing bursts of searing gamma-rays, and even black holes can collide… Read More »

Jupiter glows in pictures from Webb telescope

Live Science reports: Jupiter glows with polar lights and shimmering clouds in new imagery from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). NASA released the sharp new pictures Monday (Aug. 22). The images are composites from several different wavelengths of light. In some of the new images, two of the planet’s moons, Amalthea and Adrastea, sparkle… Read More »

Dark energy may come from giant cosmic voids

Paul Sutter writes: Gigantic deserts of almost complete nothingness that make up most of the universe may be causing the expansion of the universe to speed up, new research suggests. That means these vast tracts of nothingness could explain dark energy, the mysterious force that seems to be flinging the universe apart. Zoom all the… Read More »

New theories are taking shape about how planets are made

Rebecca Boyle writes: Start at the center, with the sun. Our middle-aged star may be more placid than most, but it is otherwise unremarkable. Its planets, however, are another story. First, Mercury: More charred innards than fully fledged planet, it probably lost its outer layers in a traumatic collision long ago. Next come Venus and… Read More »