Astronomy & Astrophysics

Astronomy may well be the oldest science of all, seeking answers to questions such as: "Where did it all come from?" and "Are we alone?" But, today's astronomers are focusing on phenomena our forbearers never imagined—planets orbiting other stars, for example; black holes the size of our solar system; galaxies being driven apart by invisible "dark energy"; ripples in the fabric of space and time; and of course the big bang, where time itself began.

Using frequency combs to search for planets

The hunt for Earth-like planets, and perhaps extraterrestrial life, just got more precise, thanks to record-setting starlight measurements made possible by a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) "astrocomb"

Event Horizon Telescope's monumental discovery, explained

The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) -- a planet-scale array of eight ground-based radio telescopes forged through international collaboration -- was designed to capture images of a black hole. On April 10, in coordinated press conferences across the globe, EHT researchers revealed that they have succeeded, unveiling the first direct visual evidence of a supermassive black hole and its shadow

What is a black hole?

What is a black hole? Hans Krimm, an observational astronomer at the National Science Foundation, answers the question on this edition of "Ask a Scientist."

How the seeds of planets take shape

In theoretical research that could explain everything from planet formation to outflows from stars to even the settling of volcanic ash, Caltech researchers have discovered a new mechanism to explain how the act of dust moving through gas leads to clumps of dust

A time-lapse of the Vavilov Ice Cap's collapse

In the last few years, the Vavilov Ice Cap in the Russian High Arctic has dramatically accelerated, sliding as much as 82 feet a day in 2015, according to a new multi-national, multi-institute study

Multi-messenger astrophysics neutrino breakthrough

On Sept. 22, 2017, the National Science Foundation's IceCube Neutrino Observatory alerted the international astronomy community that a high-energy neutrino had passed through the Earth. That notification set in motion follow-on observations from nearly two dozen observatories on Earth and in space, ultimately confirming the source of the neutrino, a first for science