Latest Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics Stories
Four galaxies are slamming into each other and kicking up billions of stars in one of the largest cosmic smash-ups ever observed. The clashing galaxies will eventually merge into a single, behemoth galaxy up to 10 times as massive as our own Milky Way.
Astronomers are hunting an elusive target: rogue black holes that have been ejected from the centers of their home galaxies.
The gas giant planet, called HAT-P-2b, contains more than eight times the mass of Jupiter, the biggest planet in our solar system. Its powerful gravity squashes it into a ball only slightly larger than Jupiter.
Two rambunctious young stars are destroying their natal dust cloud with powerful jets of radiation, in an infrared image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. The stars are located approximately 600 light-years away in a cosmic cloud called BHR 71.
Astronomers have found the lowest mass white dwarf known in our galaxy: a Saturn-sized ball of helium containing only about one-fifth the mass of the Sun.
Even though the sun is the closest star to Earth and has been studied for hundreds of years, it still holds surprises. The recently launched Hinode spacecraft is one of the latest observatories to probe the sun from afar.
The Large Magellanic Cloud and Small Magellanic Cloud are two of the Milky Way's closest neighboring galaxies. By studying their orbits, astronomers can learn about both the histories of the Clouds and the structure of the Milky Way.
Astronomers have proposed an improved method of searching for intelligent extraterrestrial life using instruments like the one now under construction in Australia. This instrument could detect Earth-like civilizations around any of the 1,000 nearest stars.
Scientists have measured a stellar-mass black hole spinning so rapidly - turning more than 950 times per second - that it pushes the predicted speed limit for rotation.
The Andromeda galaxy, the closest large spiral to the Milky Way, appears calm and tranquil as it wheels through space. But appearances can be deceiving.
- A gift; a largess; a gratuity; a present; a dole.