Latest Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics Stories
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 gigantic sonic boom generated by a supermassive black hole has been found with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, along with evidence for a cacophony of deep sound.
Using a network of small automated telescopes known as HAT, Smithsonian astronomers have discovered a planet unlike any other known world. This new planet, designated HAT-P-1, orbits one member of a pair of distant stars 450 light-years away in the constellation Lacerta.
Long predicted by theory, the Smithsonian's Submillimeter Array has found the first conclusive evidence of an hourglass-shaped magnetic field in a star formation region. Measurements indicate that material in the interstellar cloud is dense enough to allow it to gravitationally collapse, warping the magnetic field in the process.
As astronomers increasingly link two telescopes as interferometers to reveal greater detail of distant stars, a Keck Observatory astronomer is showing the power of linking three or even more telescopes together.
In the distant, young universe, quasars shine with a brilliance unmatched by anything in the local cosmos. Although they appear starlike in optical telescopes, quasars are actually the bright centers of galaxies located billions of light-years from Earth.
Astronomers have discovered a new "super-Earth" orbiting a red dwarf star located about 9,000 light-years away. This newfound world weighs about 13 times the mass of the Earth and is probably a mixture of rock and ice, with a diameter several times that of Earth.
Gamma-ray bursts are the most powerful explosions in the universe, emitting huge amounts of high-energy radiation. For decades their origin was a mystery. Scientists now believe they understand the processes that produce gamma-ray bursts.
- A person or thing gazed at with wonder or curiosity, especially of a scornful kind.