When did we first realize that Saturn had rings

Before the invention of the telescope, no one on Earth knew that Saturn had rings until the 1600s. Galileo Galilei discovered them with his telescope in 1610, but he did not know what these were either. Thus they remained a mystery until 1655 when the Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens (see notes 1) figured out that they …

A small telescope beyond Saturn could solve mysteries of the universe better than giant telescopes near Earth

Dozens of space-based telescopes operate near-Earth and provide incredible images of the universe. But imagine a telescope far away in the outer solar system, 10 or even 100 times farther from the Sun than Earth. The ability to look back at our solar system or peer into the darkness of the distant cosmos would make …

Search for Life Beyond Earth: Developing a Guidebook

Are we alone in the universe? Searching for life beyond our Solar System is one of the most ambitious efforts humans have ever undertaken. Because we do not have the ability to travel to distant exoplanets, scientists must rely on indirect clues that could help us find extraterrestrial life. Dr. Edward Schwieterman and his colleagues …

Stardust is raining down on Earth

It is all around us. Every day in our lives we are in contact with it. In fact, we are made from it: ancient stardust. All the atoms around us have witnessed the most violent explosions in the universe. Their journeys through space are the longest, roughest and loneliest voyages imaginable. Dominik Koll, Australian National …

Here’s how scientists planning to deflect asteroids that might damage Earth

Asteroids – the bits and pieces left over from the formation of the inner planets – are a source of great curiosity for those keen to learn about the building blocks of our solar system, and to probe the chemistry of life. Humans are also considering mining asteroids for metals, but one of the crucial …

Astronomers image the magnetic field of a black hole for the first time – here’s what it reveals

There was a lot of excitement when the Event Horizon Telescope collaboration showed the world the first-ever image of a black hole back in April 2019. Weighing in at 6.5 million times the mass of our Sun, this supermassive black hole is located in the galaxy Messier 87, or M87, some 55 million light-years away …

You’ll be amazed how cramped the TRAPPIST-1 System is

Science writer Pat Brennan has published a great article on the NASA exoplanets website titled “Life in the Universe: What are the Odds?”. In the article, he published a diagram showing the habitable zones of our solar system, and the TRAPPIST-1 system. The amazing thing is how cramped the TRAPPIST-1 system is: the orbits of …