The Milky Way galaxy is enormous, and we’ve scanned only the tiniest fraction of it in search of planets. We’ve spotted a few thousand of them orbiting distant stars, and now a team of researchers from Penn State University has used that data to estimate the number of Earth-like exoplanets in the entire galaxy -- they peg that number between 5 and 10 billion. That’s a lot of places to look for alien life.
The conventional wisdom is that if you want to look at more distant objects in the universe, you need a bigger telescope. What if you didn’t have to build one, though? A new analysis claims it may be possible to use the Earth’s atmosphere as a giant lens to observe far-away stars and galaxies on the cheap. The process may even work in reverse to send signals to distant locales.
The Hubble Space Telescope has been silently hovering above Earth for over 25 years, but it’s still returning spectacular images of the cosmos. That’s an amazing technological achievement. But it wasn’t always a smooth ride.
The GMT is taking shape on a mountaintop in the Chilean Andes. The telescope will feature seven primary mirrors, which together will create a light-collecting surface 80 feet (24.5 m) wide. The powerful scope will allow astronomers to investigate some of the cosmos' deepest mysteries -- the nature of dark matter and dark energy, for example, and whether Earth life is alone in the universe.
By calculating the distance from the sun to thousands of pulsating stars across the Milky Way, astronomers have now charted our galaxy in 3D on a larger scale than ever before, a new study finds. These new findings shed light on the warped, twisted shape of the galaxy's disk, researchers added.
This asteroid wasn’t one that scientists had been tracking and it had seemingly appeared from “out of nowhere,” Michael Brown, a Melbourne-based observational astronomer, told The Post. According to data from NASA, the craggy rock was large, roughly 110 yards wide, and moving quickly along a path that brought it within about 45,360 miles of Earth. That’s about one-fifth of the distance to the moon and what Duffy considers “uncomfortably close.”
Astronomers have been pondering the nature of our first interstellar visitor ever since its discovery. ‘Oumuamua is bizarre -- not only is it from beyond the stars, but it’s also long and cigar-shaped. That led some to wonder if it wasn’t really an alien spacecraft, but past studies of ‘Oumuamua have suggested that it’s just a space rock.
The effective diameter of the Terahertz Space Telescope, Walker says, would be about 25 meters. To put this in perspective, the James Webb Space Telescope--which is slated to launch in 2021, and will be the most sensitive telescope ever sent to space--has an aperture of about 6.5 meters. The price difference is even more dramatic: Walker estimates the inflatable telescope would cost around $200 million to send to orbit, whereas the James Webb telescope is expected to cost about $10 billion by the time it’s launched.
At the center of a galaxy more than 55 million light-years away, there's a supermassive black hole with the mass of several billion suns. And now, for the first time ever, we can see it. Astrophysicist Sheperd Doeleman, head of the Event Horizon Telescope collaboration, speaks with TED's Chris Anderson about the iconic, first-ever image of a black hole -- and the epic, worldwide effort involved in capturing it.
Astrophysicists and astronomers testified on Capitol Hill about the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), which captured the very first image of a supermassive black hole. Among the witnesses were Event Horizon Telescope Director Sheperd Doeleman and National Science Foundation Director France Cordova.