Cosmic Ray Mystery Finally Cracked Thanks to Supermassive Black Hole Beaming Energy Straight at Earth

Every so often, protons and even entire atomic nuclei strike the Earth with extremely high energies—much higher than what scientists can produce in their most powerful physics experiments. Since the discovery of “cosmic rays” a hundred years ago, no one knew for sure where the most energetic of these particles came from—until now. Read More >>

New South African Telescope Releases Epic Image of the Galactic Centre

You’re looking at the centre of our galactic home, the Milky Way, as imaged by 64 radio telescopes in the South African wilderness. Read More >>

New Analysis of Potentially Habitable Exoplanet Makes Us Hungry for Better Telescopes 

Eleven light-years from Earth, orbiting a dim red star, there’s an exoplanet called Ross 128b that, as we recently reported, has some the best prospects for life of any known distant world. New results may help astronomers figure out what the planet is made of—and they offer more evidence that it might be inside its parent star’s habitable zone. Read More >>

Meteorite Hunters Find Remains of Last Month’s Botswana Fireball

Last month, a fireball lit up the skies over Botswana just hours after scientists first spotted the space rock hurtling toward Earth. Researchers from Botswana, South Africa, Finland, and the United States have now found pieces of the meteorite. Read More >>

Einstein’s Theory of Gravity Holds Up on Test of a Three-Star System

Scientists understand gravity pretty well when it comes to two objects, but add a third, and you’ve got chaos—a system that’s impossible to explain with our simplest equations. But you also have a way to test the limits of Einstein’s theory of gravity. Read More >>

Did Something Massive Smash Into Uranus?

You might be aware of one of Uranus’ complexities: It spins on its side, and its moons orbit on that same rotated plane. New evidence strengthens the case that Uranus was smashed in a giant collision, resulting in its sideways orientation to its orbital plane and perhaps explaining some of the planet’s other mysteries. Read More >>

America Isn’t Ready to Handle a Catastrophic Asteroid Impact, New Report Warns

We’ve long said that humans generally worry about the wrong asteroids. Tabloids love to publish headlines about “potentially hazardous asteroids,” a category created by NASA that can be a bit misleading. The truly worrisome rocks are the smaller ones that we aren’t tracking. Read More >>

Astronomers Have Captured First Direct Evidence of an Exoplanet Being Born

At this point, we’ve spotted several thousand exoplanets—there’s nothing super exciting anymore about finding a distant star with several worlds orbiting it. But today, scientists are announcing that they have seen an exoplanet in the middle of forming. Read More >>

NASA Delays James Webb Space Telescope Yet Again, ‘Commits’ to a 2021 Launch

Following an independent review, NASA’s planned James Webb Space Telescope has received yet another delay in its mission schedule. This time, NASA has moved the target launch from May 2020 to March 2021. Read More >>

Two New Papers Offers Clues to Mars’ Weird History

As far as humans are concerned, Mars has two stories. One is in the present: We’re trying to send our ships and our astronauts to the Red Planet in order to understand what it’s like today. But much of that work is meant to tell a second story — what the planet used to be like. Read More >>

general relativity
Einstein’s Theory of Gravity Passes Enormous Test on a Galaxy

It would be hard to overstate how resilient the theory of general relativity has been. In its hundred-plus-year history, it’s managed to predict things far beyond the capabilities of 1910s experiments, and it withstands every new test scientists throw at it. Read More >>

Did Scientists Just Find a Missing Piece of the Universe?

It would be silly to think we completely understand our universe, given how small the Earth is compared to the vastness of the cosmos. But from here on our tiny planet, it appears that much of the universe is missing. And I’m not just talking about dark matter. Regular stuff seems to be missing, too. Read More >>

Can Thousands of Smartphones Help Detect Cosmic Rays?

Your smartphone has a particle detector on it, and scientists want you to help them uncover how the universe really works and maybe even discover the true nature of dark matter. There are just a few bugs to work out. Read More >>

Scientists Find Stronger Evidence for New Kind of Black Hole

We’ve seen supermassive black holes at the centres of galaxies tearing stars to shreds. We’ve detected the energy wave from relatively tiny black holes slamming together to create a wobble in space-time a billion light-years away. But what about the medium-sized black holes in between these extremes? Read More >>

Scientists Propose a New Kind of Matter Inside the Densest Stars

You might have a pretty rigid understanding of the way stuff should look, at the most basic level. It should have a nucleus that is orbited by electrons. The nucleus should have protons and neutrons, inside each of which reside three quarks. Read More >>