The dust rings of the Andromeda Galaxy stand out in this infrared image taken by the Spitzer Space Telescope. Astronomers have discovered even brighter infrared galaxies that have inspired some imaginative explanations.

The Weirdest Objects in the Universe

With a new encyclopedia, seekers for intelligent life ask astronomers to reexamine the sky.

The Vera C. Rubin Observatory, under construction in May 2019, promises to reveal more objects faster than any previous telescope. The photo was taken from Gemini South, another large telescope on Chile’s Cerro Pachón mountaintop, a popular site due to its dry air and excellent astronomical “seeing.”

Forget Still Pictures. This New Observatory Will Make Astronomy Videos

The Universe in time-lapse.

Artist's visualization of the exoplanet LHS 3884b, a likely "lava world" newly discovered by TESS.

TESS Starts to Deliver

Early results from the world’s leading exoplanet survey.

NASA’s WB-57s once served in the U.S. Air Force. Now they serve science. Here, the fleet flies over Houston in 2015.

A Mission for the Resurrected

To fly through the apex of a storm, NASA needed to raid the boneyard.

Super-pressure balloons—like this one being inflated in New Zealand last May—can stay aloft longer. Scientists want to use them at the South Pole, where they might circle over the continent 100 days while observing deep into the universe.

100 Days Over the South Pole

A science balloon floats closer to the stars.

Most supernovas, like this one, 1987A (seen here in a Hubble Space Telescope image) explode only once. So what's going on with iPTF14hls?

“Zombie Star” Has Astronomers Stumped

The supernova that came back from the dead.

Artist's depiction of rotating disc galaxies in the early Universe (right) and the present day (left). Galaxies in the early Universe were less influenced by dark matter (shown in red). As a result the outer parts of distant galaxies rotate more slowly than comparable regions of galaxies in the local Universe.

Where Was Dark Matter in the Early Universe?

Observations of early-forming galaxies shows they're pretty...normal. And that's unexpected.

The LUX experiment, deep underground in South Dakota, was an attempt to find dark matter particles by observing any flashes of light when they passed through liquid xenon. It didn't find anything.

Little Light in the Search for Dark Matter

Scientists have to re-think the particles believed to make up most of the universe when another experiment comes up empty.

The Green Bank radio telescope in West Virginia may pull in an alien signal.

SETI Gets an Upgrade

If we broaden our search, will we hear aliens? $100 million says yes.

Instruments on top, living quarters below. Observations from Harqua Hala helped identify changes in the sun’s energy output.

The Devil’s Observatory

The worst thing about Harqua Hala was the isolation.

A disk included on the Mars-orbiting MAVEN spacecraft included student artwork and haiku.

"Hi! I'm from Earth!"

When sending spacecraft, it's customary to include a note.

The octagonal 26-foot-tall MINOS detector is one of several experiments housed in a former iron mine in Minnesota; two others seek cosmic dark matter.

Dark Matter Detectives

The hunt for the most elusive particles in the universe is half a mile underground.


Interstellar Flight: A Progress Report

When it comes to star travel, some people won’t take no for an answer

With enough lead time, DE-STAR could vaporize a half-kilometer asteroid before it hits Earth.

A Starship Engine and an Asteroid Killer—In One Handy Package

DE-STAR would tackle two of humanity’s biggest challenges.

HATSouth telescopes search for dim planets orbiting the stars in Chile’s Atacama desert sky.

Pint-Size Sky Watchers

While monster telescopes get the attention, the little guys quietly — and cheaply — rack up cosmic finds.

If the Earth started out with two moons, a slow collision between them could explain our remaining moon's appearance today.

Is Earth's moon the product of a big splat as well as a big whack?

The second-moon theory.

An engineer adjusts the beam-control optics that ride in the nose of the Airborne Laser Testbed, a modified Boeing 747-400F. The optics stabilize and shape the weapon laser’s beam as it is aimed by the nose turret’s computer-controlled telescope at a target missile.

How Things Work: Missile Killer

In this tables-turned scenario, the airplane shoots down the missile.

Duke University’s Steven Cummer (left) and David Schurig of North Carolina State University prepare to test a cloaking device by bombarding it with microwaves.

Now You See It, Now You Don’t

Blinding us with science: the next generation of stealth.

X-rays enter Chandra’s pairs of nested mirrors.

How Things Work: Chandra X-Ray

The Chandra X-Ray Telescope, explained.

An F/A-18 Hornet lights its afterburners to leap from the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt.

How Things Work: Afterburners

Jets get no kick from champagne, but a little fuel in the tailpipe...

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