Astrophysics Science Division (660) Press Releases & Feature Stories Archive

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New NASA Podcast Helps Listeners Explore Our ‘Curious Universe’

NASA’s newest podcast is taking listeners on an adventure to explore the wonders of Earth and help unravel the mysteries of the universe.

Hubble Captures a Cannibal Galaxy

This remarkable spiral galaxy, known as NGC 4651, may look serene and peaceful as it swirls in the vast, silent emptiness of space, but don’t be fooled — it keeps a violent secret.

NASA Science Keeps the Lights On

Across NASA’s many missions, thousands of scientists, engineers, and other experts and professionals all over the country are doing what they do best, but now from home offices and via video conferencing. With most personnel supporting missions remotely to keep onsite staff at a minimal level in response to COVID-19, the Agency is moving ahead strongly with everything from space exploration to using our technology and innovation to help inform policy makers.

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Full Mirror Deployment a Success

In a recent test, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope fully deployed its primary mirror into the same configuration it will have when in space.

Hubble Finds Best Evidence for Elusive Mid-Sized Black Hole

Astronomers have found the best evidence for the perpetrator of a cosmic homicide: a black hole of an elusive class known as "intermediate-mass," which betrayed its existence by tearing apart a wayward star that passed too close.

Warped Space-time to Help WFIRST Find Exoplanets

NASA’s Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) will find thousands of planets outside our solar system, known as exoplanets. Studying the properties of exoplanet worlds will help us understand what planetary systems throughout the Milky Way are like and how planets form and evolve.

Hubble Hooks a One-Arm Galaxy

Located about 21 million light-years from our galaxy in the constellation Canes Venatici, NGC 4618 has a diameter of about one-third that of our Milky Way. Together with its neighbor, NGC 4625, it forms an interacting galaxy pair, which means that the two galaxies are close enough to influence each other gravitationally.

Hubble Gazes at Fluffy-Looking Galaxy

NGC 4237 is classified as a flocculent spiral galaxy. This means that its spiral arms are not clearly distinguishable from each other, as in “grand design” spiral galaxies, but are instead patchy and discontinuous. This gives the galaxy a fluffy appearance, somewhat resembling fluffy cotton.

Quasar Tsunamis Rip Across Galaxies

Astronomers have discovered the most energetic outflows ever witnessed in the universe. They emanate from quasars and tear across interstellar space like tsunamis, wreaking havoc on the galaxies in which the quasars live.

NASA Selects Proposals to Study Volatile Stars, Galaxies, Cosmic Collisions

NASA has selected proposals for four missions that would study cosmic explosions and the debris they leave behind, as well as monitor how nearby stellar flares may affect the atmospheres of orbiting planets.

Hubble Investigates Hungry Galaxy

Spiral galaxy NGC 1589 was once the scene of a violent bout of cosmic hunger pangs. As astronomers looked on, a poor, hapless star was seemingly torn apart and devoured by the ravenous supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy.

Statement on NASA Goddard’s Coronavirus Prep Actions

Goddard has canceled all non-mission-essential visits to its facilities. Goddard also is closing its Visitor Centers at Greenbelt and at Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia.

Slime Mold Simulations Used to Map Dark Matter Holding Universe Together

The behavior of one of nature's humblest creatures is helping astronomers probe the largest structures in the universe. There is an uncanny resemblance between the networks single-cell slime molds create to seek food and the vast cobweb structure of filaments gravity builds to tie galaxies and clusters of galaxies together.

Hubble Spies Galactic Traffic Jam

NGC 3887 is one of many galaxies in our universe with spiral arms, just like our own Milky Way. Until the 1960s, the behavior of spiral arms was an astronomical puzzle. The arms emanate from a spinning core and "should" therefore become wound up ever more tightly over time. Instead, they move more slowly, like an interstellar traffic jam.

NASA Approves Development of Universe-Studying, Planet-Finding Mission

NASA’s Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) project has passed a critical programmatic and technical milestone, giving the mission the official green light to begin hardware development and testing.

Hubble Spots a Spiral With a Past

NGC 691, shown in this Hubble image, features intricate details of the galaxy's layers of stars and spiraling arms — which would no doubt amaze astronomer William Herschel, who discovered this galaxy almost 200 years before Hubble launched.

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Students Catch Unexpected Glimpse of Newly Discovered Black Hole

Last fall, the student-built Regolith X-Ray Imaging Spectrometer onboard OSIRIS-REx detected a newly flaring black hole while observing the limb of asteroid Bennu.

Record-breaking Explosion by Black Hole Spotted

The biggest explosion seen in the universe has been found. This record-breaking, gargantuan eruption came from a black hole in a distant galaxy cluster hundreds of millions of light years away.

Examining Ice Giants With NASA’s Webb Telescope

Far-flung Uranus and Neptune — the ice giants of our solar system — are as mysterious as they are distant. Soon after its launch in 2021, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will change that by unlocking secrets of the atmospheres of both planets.

Hubble Fingerprints a Galaxy

The galaxy NGC 4689 appears like a smudged fingerprint on the sky. No matter how good the image quality, there is little contrast between the spiraling arms of stars, gas and dust, and the less dense areas in between. This is because NGC 4689 contains only quite small quantities of the raw materials needed to produce stars.

Hubble Team Wins 2020 Michael Collins Trophy

In recognition of the NASA Hubble Space Telescope's 30 years of civilization-changing astronomical discoveries, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum has awarded its 2020 Collins Trophy for Current Achievement to the Hubble operations team at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

Beyond the Brim, Sombrero Galaxy’s Halo Suggests Turbulent Past

These latest Hubble observations of the Sombrero galaxy indicate only a tiny fraction of older, metal-poor stars in the halo, plus an unexpected abundance of metal-rich stars. Past major galaxy mergers are a possible explanation, though the stately Sombrero shows none of the messy evidence of a recent merger of massive galaxies.

Hubble Embraces Spiral With Open Arms

The spiral galaxy NGC 2008 sits center stage, its ghostly spiral arms spreading out toward us, in this image captured by Hubble.

Hubble Captures Grand Spiral

Eye-catching NGC 5364 is known as a grand design spiral galaxy — a descriptive name deserved by only one-tenth of spirals. They are characterized by their prominent, well-defined arms, which circle outward from a clear core. Despite being classified in this way, NGC 5364 is far from perfect.

NASA’s Webb Will Seek Atmospheres around Potentially Habitable Exoplanets

More than one team of astronomers will study the TRAPPIST-1 system with Webb. They plan to use a variety of instruments and observing modes to tease out as many details as they can for each planet in the system.
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