astronomy

Astronomers discover a massive family of stars in the Milky Way

Astronomers discover a massive family of stars in the Milky Way

Glancing at the image below, it's clear that there are huge numbers of stars in the Milky Way. Astronomers say that the galaxy is filled with streams of stars, but one of those streams appears to have nearly 500 stars inside. Astronomers, on a new study, have discovered 8292 stellar streams in the galaxy.

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Astronomers discover the most distant quasar ever found

Astronomers discover the most distant quasar ever found

An international team of astronomers has discovered the most distant quasar yet. The quasar is known as J0313-1806, and it's so distant it's seen as it was when the universe was only 670 million years old. The discovery gives scientists worldwide valuable insights into how massive galaxies and the supermassive black holes in their core formed in the early universe.

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ALMA observes a distant colliding galaxy as it sheds star-forming gas

ALMA observes a distant colliding galaxy as it sheds star-forming gas

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) has observed a distant galaxy that has collided with another galaxy. Scientists have observed colliding galaxies before. What's unique about this one is that as the galaxies collide, the resulting merged galaxy is shedding its star-forming gas. Astronomers say the galaxy is ejecting nearly half of its star-forming gas, and it's happening at a very fast rate.

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A conjunction of Saturn, Jupiter, and Mercury can be seen in the nighttime sky

A conjunction of Saturn, Jupiter, and Mercury can be seen in the nighttime sky

Skywatchers have something to look for tonight, assuming you have clear weather and can see the sky. The two largest planets in the solar system, Saturn and Jupiter, will be nearby in the nighttime sky along with Mercury. When planets appear to be close to each other in the sky, it's called a conjunction.

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The Earth is at its closest point to the sun today

The Earth is at its closest point to the sun today

NASA recently talked a bit about something going on between the Earth and the sun today, January 2, 2021. Today marks the Earth's perihelion, which is the closest point it reaches to the sun in our planet's elliptical orbit around our host star. NASA says the sun won't appear noticeably larger in the sky.

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2021 kicks off with the Quadrantid meteor shower peaking tonight

2021 kicks off with the Quadrantid meteor shower peaking tonight

We're only a couple of days into the new year, and skywatchers have something to look forward to in the late evening hours tonight, and the early morning hours on Sunday, January 3. The Quadrantid meteor shower reached its peak Saturday night into the early AM hours of Sunday morning. This could be one of the strongest meteor showers of the year, but we won't have ideal viewing conditions.

A bright waning gibbous moon will limit the amount of meteors visible from the ground. Other challenges could prevent some from being able to see the meteors, including cloud cover. The meteor shower also has a relatively short peak lasting only six hours. Ideal viewing hours in the northern hemisphere will be 2 a.m. local and dawn.

Viewers can expect between 50 and 100 meteors per hour with the best viewing in rural areas. The brightness of the moon will reduce the number of meteors seen. Those wanting to try and view the Quadrantid meteor shower will want to watch the northeastern sky and look about halfway up.

The Quadrantid shower could produce some fireballs, but mostly watchers will see what are typically called shooting stars. The American Meteor Society says that viewers should watch the sky for at least an hour. The Quadrantid meteor shower gets its name from a constellation called Quandris Muralis, which no longer exists as a recognized constellation.

The constellation was first observed in 1795 between Bootes and Draco, but it is considered obsolete and is no longer on the International Astronomical Union's list of modern constellations. The meteor shower will radiate between the Big Dipper and Bootes. The source of the meteor shower is a "rock comet" similar to the Geminid shower.

Researchers believe dark matter could be composed of primordial black holes

Researchers believe dark matter could be composed of primordial black holes

Researchers from the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe have been conducting a study of black holes that could've formed in the early universe. These so-called primordial black holes are believed to have formed before stars and galaxies were born. Primordial black holes could account for all or part of dark matter and be responsible for some of the observed gravitational wave signals and supermassive black holes found in the center of our galaxy and others.

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Ursid meteor shower peaks on December 21 and 22

Ursid meteor shower peaks on December 21 and 22

Skywatchers need to be looking to the skies next week when on December 22, the Ursid meteor shower will reach its peak. This is a significantly smaller meteor shower than others that have occurred in recent months and is only viewable from the northern hemisphere. However, those able to see it will be treated to between five and ten meteors streaking across the night sky per hour.

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Strange radio transmissions are emanating from Proxima Centauri

Strange radio transmissions are emanating from Proxima Centauri

Something strange is going on at the closest star to the sun. A mysterious radio signal is coming from Proxima Centauri, which is too dim to be seen from Earth with the naked eye. Despite being too dim for us to see from Earth, it's a cosmic stone throw away at only 4.2 light-years away. A mysterious signal is emanating from the star, which was discovered in archived data gathered last year.

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Astronomers measure the distance to the farthest galaxy in the universe

Astronomers measure the distance to the farthest galaxy in the universe

The team of astronomers used the Keck I telescope to measure the distance to an ancient galaxy described as the farthest galaxy in the universe. The galaxy in question is called GN-z11, and it's both the oldest and most distant galaxy from us. The astronomers say that the galaxy is so far away that it defines the observable universe's boundary.

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Geminid meteor shower peaks tonight and tomorrow morning

Geminid meteor shower peaks tonight and tomorrow morning

Skywatchers have something to look forward to tonight with the Geminid meteor shower peaking December 13 and 14th. Some Western states currently have snow cover and snowstorms, which might rule out sky watchers getting to observe one of the strongest meteor showers of the year. The Geminids could be visible in the late evening hours on Sunday, but the ideal time to look to the skies would be around 2 AM Monday.

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This giant sunspot is larger than the Earth

This giant sunspot is larger than the Earth

New images have been released from the world's largest solar observatory. The observatory is called the Daniel K Inouye Solar Telescope, and it is located on the Hawaiian island of Maui. Scientists took the image on January 28, 2020, but it has only been released to the public now. The giant sunspot seen in the center of the photo below is about 10,000 miles across.

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