Latest Stars Stories

2007-12-06 16:11:56

Cambridge, MA - The Sun is minimally active right now, but this quiet state of affairs won't last for long. Over the next few years, the number of solar flares and eruptions known as coronal mass ejections will increase until reaching solar maximum in 2011 or 2012.  Such eruptions can impact Earth, disrupting satellites, communications, and even power grids. Some predict the next solar cycle will be the most intense in 50 years. As a result, scientists are striving to understand the...

2007-12-04 11:08:49

The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) celebrated its twelfth launch anniversary on 2 December 2007. The satellite has witnessed the Sun change through almost a complete solar cycle - from quiet to stormy, and back again. The solar cycle normally lasts about 11 years. In late 1996, shortly after its launch, SOHO was able to observe the last minimum of the 11-year activity cycle. The minimum was followed by a rapid rise in solar activity, peaking 2001 and 2002. Activity levels have...

2007-12-04 09:45:00

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is providing strong evidence that white dwarfs, the burned out relics of stars, are given a "kick" when they form. The sharp vision of Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys uncovered the speedy white dwarfs in the ancient globular star cluster NGC 6397, a dense swarm of hundreds of thousands of stars. Before the stars burned-out as white dwarfs, they were among the most massive stars in NGC 6397. Because massive stars are thought to gather at a globular cluster's...

2007-12-02 18:47:17

Right in time for the festive season, ESA's XMM-Newton X-ray observatory has discovered a huge cloud of high-temperature gas resting in a spectacular nearby star-forming region, shaped somewhat like the silhouette of Santa Claus. An early present for astronomers, the cloud suggests that hot gas from many star-forming regions leaks into the interstellar medium. The Orion nebula is the nearest dense star-forming region to Earth that contains stars much more massive than the Sun. XMM-Newton's...

2007-11-01 10:00:00

Cambridge, MA - Astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) have found that a supernova discovered last year was caused by two colliding white dwarf stars. The white dwarfs were siblings orbiting each other. They slowly spiraled inward until they merged, touching off a titanic explosion. CfA observations show the strongest evidence yet of what was, until now, a purely theoretical mechanism for creating a supernova. "This finding shows that nature may be richer than...

2007-09-20 12:55:00

"We've never seen anything quite like it," says solar physicist Lika Guhathakurta from NASA headquarters. Last week she sat in an audience of nearly two hundred colleagues at the "Living with a Star" workshop in Boulder, Colorado, and watched in amazement as Saku Tsuneta of Japan played a movie of sunspot 10926 breaking through the turbulent surface of the sun. Before their very eyes an object as big as a planet materialized, and no one was prepared for the form it took. "It looks like a...

2007-09-13 00:00:00

Using NASA's Swift and Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) satellites, astronomers have discovered one of the most bizarre planet-mass objects ever found. The object's minimum mass is only about 7 times the mass of Jupiter. But instead of orbiting a normal star, this low-mass body orbits a rapidly spinning pulsar. It orbits the pulsar every 54.7 minutes at an average distance of only about 230,000 miles (slightly less than the Earth-Moon distance). "This object is merely the skeleton of a...

2007-08-13 11:35:00

A new study reveals correlations between plentiful sunspots and periods of heavy rain in East Africa. Intense rainfall in the region often leads to flooding and disease outbreaks. The findings shed light on how life on Earth can be affected by changes in the Solar System environment. Understanding the links between the Sun and Earth is also important for astrobiologists trying to define what conditions make a planet habitable. The analysis by a team of U.S. and British researchers shows that...

2007-08-04 14:10:00

VLTI Snapshots Dusty Puff Around Variable Star Using ESO's Very Large Telescope Interferometer, astronomers from France and Brazil have detected a huge cloud of dust around a star. This observation is further evidence for the theory that such stellar puffs are the cause of the repeated extreme dimming of the star. R Coronae Borealis stars are supergiants exhibiting erratic variability. Named after the first star that showed such behaviour [1], they are more than 50 times larger than our Sun....

2007-07-24 12:50:00

How many stars does it take to "raise" a planet? In our own solar system, it took only one -- our Sun. However, new research from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows that planets might sometimes form in systems with as many as four stars. Astronomers used Spitzer's infrared vision to study a dusty disk that swirls around a pair of stars in the quadruple-star system HD 98800. Such disks are thought to give rise to planets. Instead of a smooth, continuous disk, the telescope detected gaps...

Latest Stars Reference Libraries

2009-03-03 21:30:30

Georg Friedrich Julius Arthur von Auwers (September 12, 1838 "“ January 24, 1915) was a German astronomer born in Göttingen, Germany. He attended the University of Göttingen and worked at the University of Königsberg. Auwers specialized in astrometry, making very precise measurements of stellar positions and motions. He detected the companion stars of Sirius and Procyon from their effects on the main star's motion, before telescopes were powerful enough to visually observe them....

2009-03-03 21:08:51

Charles Greeley Abbot (May 31, 1872 "“ December 17, 1973) was an American astrophysicist and astronomer born in Wilton, New Hampshire. He graduated from Phillips Academy in 1891 and MIT in 1894, with a degree in chemical physics. In 1895 Abbot was hired by Samuel Pierpont Langley as an assistant at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) despite his lack of experience in astronomy. Hired originally for his laboratory skills, Abbot became acting director of the SAO in 1896. When...

2004-10-19 04:45:44

Triangulum Australe Constellation -- Triangulum Australe, the Southern Triangle, is completely visible in latitudes south of 20 degrees north from April through June. Its three brightest stars have been called the "Three Patriarchs", Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It can easily be recognized by its shape, or asterism. This is one of the 12 southern constellations named by Johann Bayer in the early 1600's. The three bright stars in this constellation are so recognizable that they can be...

2004-10-19 04:45:44

Serpens Constellation -- Serpens (the snake) is one of the 88 modern constellations, and was also one of the 48 listed by Ptolemy. Among the modern constellations it is unique in being split into two pieces, Serpens Caput (representing the head of the snake) to the west and Serpens Cauda (representing the tail) to the east. Between these two pieces lies the constellation of Ophiuchus, the serpent bearer. Notable features Since Serpens is regarded as being one constellation...

2004-10-19 04:45:44

Scorpius Constellation -- Scorpius (the scorpion) is one of the constellations of the zodiac. In western astrology it is known as "Scorpio." It lies between Libra to the west and Sagittarius to the east. It is a large constellation located in the southern hemisphere near the center of the Milky Way. Notable features Scorpius contains many bright stars, including Antares (α Sco), Graffias (β1 Sco), Dschubba (δ Sco), Sargas (θ Sco), Shaula (λ Sco), Jabah (ν Sco),...

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Word of the Day
  • A somewhat riotous parade, accompanied with the blowing of tin horns, and other discordant noises; also, a burlesque serenade; a charivari.
'Callithump' is a back-formation of 'callithumpian,' a 'fanciful formation' according to the Oxford English Dictionary. However, the English Dialect Dictionary, says 'Gallithumpians' is a Dorset and Devon word from the 1790s that refers to 'a society of radical social reformers' or 'noisy disturbers of elections and meetings.'