Distant Grind: The Largest Hurricane in the Solar System on Jupiter

The Great Red Spot has been observed since 1831. Continuous observation began in 1879. Curated/Reviewed by Matthew A. McIntoshPublic HistorianBrewminate Overview The Great Red Spot is a persistent high-pressure region in the atmosphere of Jupiter, producing an anticyclonic storm that is the largest in the Solar System. Located 22 degrees south of Jupiter’s equator, it produces wind-speeds up to 432 km/h (268 mph). Observations from 1665 to[…]

Distant Grind: Keeping an Eye on Space Rocks

JPL manages NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies, which tracks comets and asteroids that drift close to Earth’s orbital neighborhood. Introduction A Near-Earth Object (NEO) is generally defined as an asteroid or comet that approaches our planet less than 1.3 times the distance from Earth to the Sun (the Earth-Sun distance is about 93 million[…]

Getting to the Icy Heart of Comets

What is inside a comet’s nucleus? Marshmallows? Chewy caramel? Nuts? Introduction A comet’s nucleus is in the center of its coma. A comet’s nucleus is like a snowball made of ice. As the comet nears the Sun, the ice starts to melt off, along with particles of dust. These particles and gases make a cloud around the[…]

Distant Grind: An Incorrect Hypothesis and the Trapped Water on Mars

New data challenges the long-held theory that all of Mars’s water escaped into space. By Robert PerkinsContent and Media Strategist / Emergency Communications CoordinatorCalifornia Institute of Technology Billions of years ago, the Red Planet was far more blue; according to evidence still found on the surface, abundant water flowed across Mars and forming pools, lakes,[…]

New Telescope Will Scan Skies for Asteroids on Collision Course with Earth

Artist depiction of an asteroid on a collision course with Earth. By Mopic/shutterstock.com An asteroid on a collision course with Earth is inevitable. Astronomer Michael Lund explains how a new telescope under construction in Chile will become a vital tool fordetecting objects that could devastate our planet. By Dr. Michael B. Lund / 06.28.2018 Post-Doctoral Researcher Department of Physics & Astronomy Vanderbilit University Around sunrise on Feb. 15, 2013,[…]

Habitable Planets Could Exist around Pulsars

It is theoretically possible that habitable planets exist around pulsars – spinning neutron stars that emit short, quick pulses of radiation. According to new research, such planets must have an enormous atmosphere that converts the deadly x-rays and high energy particles of the pulsar into heat. The results, from astronomers at the University of Cambridge[…]

Dating the Sun’s Prenatal History Can Help Find Life on Other Planets

A new approach to dating the birth of our solar system could help find other similar systems. Flickr/Dmitry Boyarin, CC BY Without the sun, there would be no Earth – but amazingly, we don’t know the finer details about the prenatal history of our sun.    By Dr. Maria Lugaro (left) and Dr. Alexander Heger (right) / 08.08.2014[…]

Goodbye Kepler, Hello TESS: New Satellite in the Search for Distant Planets

Imagined view from Kepler-10b, a planet that orbits one of the 150,000 stars that the Kepler spacecraft is monitoring. NASA/Kepler Mission/Dana Berry, CC BY When NASA first started planning the Kepler mission, no one knew if the universe held any planets outside our solar system. Thousands of exoplanets later, the search enters a new phase. By Dr. Jason Steffen / 04.09.2018 Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy[…]

Stephen Hawking: A Life of Success against All Odds

By Dr. Martin Rees / 03.14.2018 Emeritus Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics University of Cambridge Soon after I enrolled as a graduate student at Cambridge University in 1964, I encountered a fellow student, two years ahead of me in his studies, who was unsteady on his feet and spoke with great difficulty. This was Stephen[…]

Why Physics Needs Art to Help Picture the Universe

Fig 1 By Dr. Frank Wilczek / 12.11.2015 Herman Feshbach Professor of Physics Massachusetts Institute of Technology Historians of science usually date the origin of the Scientific Revolution as 1543, when Copernicus’ De Revolutionibus first put the Earth in motion. While that is a convenient and defensible choice, it is not the only good candidate. An earlier[…]

Water Has Been Discovered on Mars and May Accelerate Human Exploration

Huge ice sheets discovered on Mars could mean human exploration of the planet is closer than scientists had thought. (Science Photo Library RF/Getty Images) Scientists believe the ice layers and water are the result of accumulated snow. By Alexa Lardieri / 01.12.2018 Large sheets of ice have been discovered just below Mars’ surface, leading scientists to[…]

Most Distant and Youngest Supermassive Black Hole Discovered to Date

This artist’s concept shows the most distant supermassive black hole ever discovered. It is part of a quasar from just 690 million years after the Big Bang. / Robin Dienel/Carnegie Institution for Science 12.06.2017 Scientists have uncovered a rare relic from the early universe: the farthest known supermassive black hole. This matter-eating beast is 800 million[…]

Black Holes are Simpler than Forests and Science has Its Limits

Complex nature. Photo by Alan L/Flickr By Dr. Martin Rees / 12.01.2017 Emeritus Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics University of Cambridge Albert Einstein said that the ‘most incomprehensible thing about the Universe is that it is comprehensible’. He was right to be astonished. Human brains evolved to be adaptable, but our underlying neural architecture has barely changed since[…]

Solar System’s First Observed Interstellar Visitor Dazzles Scientists

Artist’s concept of interstellar asteroid 1I/2017 U1 (‘Oumuamua) as it passed through the solar system after its discovery in October 2017. The aspect ratio of up to 10:1 is unlike that of any object seen in our own solar system. Credits: European Southern Observatory/M. Kornmesser 11.20.2017 Astronomers recently scrambled to observe an intriguing asteroid that zipped[…]

First Detection of Gravitational Waves and Light Produced by Colliding Neutron Stars

In a galaxy far away, two dead stars begin a final spiral into a massive collision. The resulting explosion unleashes a huge burst of energy, sending ripples across the very fabric of space. In the nuclear cauldron of the collision, atoms are ripped apart to form entirely new elements and scattered outward across the Universe.[…]

Incredible Photos of Jupiter from NASA’s Jupiter Probe

Image from NASA By Azriel ReShel / 11.09.2017 All photos credit NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstädt/Seán Doran Witness the Beauty of this Great Gas Giant NASA’s Juno probe has sent thrilling images of Jupiter back to Earth, the largest planet in the solar system. The fresh close-up images of Jupiter share unbelievable views of a hidden world. This is[…]

Dark Matter: The Mystery Substance Physics Still Can’t Identify that Makes Up the Majority of Our Universe

Map of all matter – most of which is invisible dark matter – between Earth and the edge of the observable universe. ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech, CC BY By Dr. Dan Hooper / 10.25.2017 Associate Scientist in Theoretical Astrophysics, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory Associate Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Chicago The past few decades have ushered in an[…]

Cosmic Alchemy: Colliding Neutron Stars Show Us How the Universe Creates Gold

Illustration of hot, dense, expanding cloud of debris stripped from the neutron stars just before they collided. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/CI Lab, CC BY    By Dr. Duncan Brown (left) and Dr. Edo Berger (left) / 10.24.2017 Brown: Professor of Physics, Syracuse University Berger: Professor of Astronomy, Harvard University For thousands of years, humans have searched[…]

A Look Back at Cassini’s Incredible Mission to Saturn before Final Plunge into the Planet

An illustration of Cassini diving between Saturn and the planet’s innermost ring. NASA/JPL-Caltech By Dr. Tanya Hill / 09.04.2017 Honorary Fellow, University of Melbourne Senior Curator, Astronomy Museums Victoria The Cassini space probe mission came to an end this month when the probe made its final destructive plunge in to Saturn. It spent the past thirteen years studying the planet,[…]