The Search for Life

Webb’s 18 mirror segments can lock into the largest telescopic mirror humankind has ever built.

SCIENCE

The Five Big Ways the James Webb Telescope Will Help Astronomers Understand the Universe

An artist's illustration of the planet K2-18b and another planet, K2-18c, that orbits closer to the parent star. Both planets orbit a red dwarf about 110 light-years from Earth in the constellation Leo.

SCIENCE

Water Vapor Detected in the Atmosphere of an Exoplanet in the Habitable Zone

A natural color view of Titan and Saturn taken by NASA's Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on May 6, 2012, at a distance of approximately 483,000 miles (778,000 kilometers) from Titan.

SCIENCE

Dragonfly Spacecraft to Scour the Sands of Titan for the Chemistry of Life

An artist's depiction of Earth during the Archean Eon, from 4 to 2.5 billion years ago, when life consisted of only single-celled microbes with no nucleus (prokaryotes). How these primitive organisms first formed from chemical reactions remains one of the greatest mysteries of science.

SCIENCE

Searching for the Key to Life's Beginnings

An animation of the eight color-coded bases of hachimoji DNA

SMART NEWS

Scientists Successfully Double the DNA Alphabet

Past, Present, Future

Astrolabes were astronomical calculating devices that did everything from tell the time to map the stars. This 16th century planispherical astrolabe stems from Morocco.

INNOVATION

The Story of the Astrolabe, the Original Smartphone

Besides exceptional facial hair, what could these two gentlemen have in common?

SCIENCE

The Hidden Connections Between Darwin and the Physicist Who Championed Entropy

An illustration shows the record-breaking supernova ASASSN-15lh as it would appear from an exoplanet about 10,000 light-years away.

SCIENCE

Astronomers Have Found the Brightest Supernova Yet

SCIENCE

Watch the Universe Evolve Over 13 Billion Years

The Andromeda Galaxy

SCIENCE

What Does the Future of the Universe Hold?

How We Explore

CAMS results for November 28 to December 14 from 2010 to 2016. Each point is direction from which a meteor was measured to approach, with red showing faster meteors and blue slower ones.

SCIENCE

Introducing the Global Effort to Map the Night Sky

Telescope array

SCIENCE

The Hunt for High-Energy Photons Takes Place From a Mountaintop in Mexico

Astrophysicist Kip Thorne dared to dream of a machine to find gravitational waves.

SCIENCE

The Detection of Gravitational Waves Was a Scientific Breakthrough, but What’s Next?

Dragonfly wings have a complex, rigid surface that is maintained by a network of veins. The subtle colors of this immature Black Meadowhawk are caused by sunlight reflecting off the not-quite transparent wings.

SCIENCE

These Dragonflies Helped an Astronomer Find Ghostly New Galaxies

A pigeon trap, on view at the Air and Space Museum, used by Nobel Prize winners Penzias and Wilson to remove the birds roosting in the radio antenna's large horn.

AT THE SMITHSONIAN

How Two Pigeons Helped Scientists Confirm the Big Bang Theory

Galaxies, Quasars, Clusters

DESI will analyze light collected by the four-meter Mayall telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson, Arizona.

SCIENCE

New Project Aims to Create Most Detailed 3-D Map of the Universe

After about a month of darkness, Hubble is back online and already collection impressive scientific data.

SMART NEWS

Retired NASA Engineers Return to Fix Hubble Telescope

A new image of a powerful jet firing out of the black hole at the center of the radio galaxy Centaurus A, taken with the Event Horizon Telescope.

SMART NEWS

New Black Hole Image Shows Plasma Jets Blasting Into Space

Understanding the Cosmos

An infrared image of 47 Tucanae, a dense globular cluster of stars located roughly 16,000 light years from Earth. A new study has predicted that a black hole lies at its center.

SCIENCE

How Astrophysicists Found a Black Hole Where No One Else Could

LIGO's founding fathers, from left: Rainer Weiss, Kip Thorne and Barry Barish. Not pictured: Ronald Drever

INNOVATION

Meet the Team of Scientists Who Discovered Gravitational Waves

After a century in which black holes went from theoretical nuisances to undisputed facts, a new initiative at the Harvard -Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics will study them.

AT THE SMITHSONIAN

Stephen Hawking on Why Black Holes Are Worthy of Your Consideration