Phycists at at LIGO - laser interferometer gravitational-wave observatory - have detected gravitational waves for the first time in known history. Einstein's theory states the fabric of space-time can become curved by any massive event in the universe, such as two black holes merging or stars exploding, and these curves ripple out as gravitational waves, similar to dropping a stone in a pond. When these ripples reach Earth, they're tiny (1 billionth of the diameter of an atom), which explains why it's taken so long to find them. Click here for more pictures of the LIGO laboratory. Continue reading for two more videos and information.
In observational astronomy, an Einstein ring is the deformation of the light from a source, such as a galaxy, into a ring through gravitational lensing of the source's light by an object with an extremely large mass, like a black hole. This occurs when the source, lens, and observer are all aligned. The first complete Einstein ring, designated B1938+666, was discovered by collaboration between astronomers at the University of Manchester and NASA's Hubble Space Telescope in 1998. The simulation above depicts a Schwarzschild black hole in front of the Milky Way. The first Einstein ring corresponds to the most distorted region of the picture and is clearly shown by the galactic disc. Click here for the first image in this week's art of trolling gallery. Continue reading for a viral video of an illusionist performing drone magic.
Yutu is an unmanned lunar rover that formed part of the Chinese Chang'e 3 mission to the Moon, launched at 17:30 UTC on December 1, 2013, and reaching the lunar surface on December 14, 2013. It's the first soft landing on the Moon since 1976 and the first rover to operate there since the Soviet Lunokhod 2 ceased operations back in 1973. This week, the China National Space Administration, has released true color images of its surface from their recent landing. Continue reading to see more.
NASA's newly released video provides viewers with a flight over the surface of dwarf planet Ceres, based on images from the Dawn spacecraft. It shows Ceres in enhanced color, which helps to highlight subtle differences in the appearance of surface materials, as well as showcasing the most prominent craters, such as Occator, and the tall, conical mountain Ahuna Mons. Dawn is the first mission to visit Ceres, the largest object in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The spacecraft is currently in its final and lowest mapping orbit, at approximately 240-miles from the surface. Click here to view the first image in this week's funny internet trolls gallery. Continue reading for a viral video of droneboarding.
Caltech researchers Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown have found discovered a giant planet in our outer solar system tracing a bizarre, highly elongated orbit. Officially nicknamed "Planet Nine," it has a mass about 10-times that of Earth and orbits 20-times further from the sun on average than does Neptune (which orbits the sun at an average distance of 2.8-billion-miles). It would take this new planet approximately 10,000-20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the sun. Continue reading for a video showcasing the findings in more detail. Click here to view more potentially habitable planets.
NASA's New Horizon spacecraft has spotted an anomaly on Pluto's surface, and while it may look like a snail, the research team claims it's just a dirty block of water ice. That's right, they say it's floating in denser solid nitrogen, which has been dragged to the edge of a convection cell. The images you see above, captured at the very center of Sputnik Planum, an icy plain that forms the left side of Pluto's 'heart' feature, were transmitted to Earth on Dec. 24. Continue reading for more up-close images and another video.
Marcus Reed, a 15-year-old from Seaford, East Sussex, captured this amazing image of Saturn, complete with its dramatic rings, using a 102mm diameter reflector telescope in his backyard. However, he did get some help from an iPhone app called Sky Guide to pinpoint the planet in the sky. "I had turned on the app and saw that Saturn was visible, so straight away I put my slippers on and ran downstairs, setting up my telescope on the back lawn. I was pleasantly surprised when I looked back and saw I had such a clear picture - Saturn is my favorite planet," said Reed. Continue reading for another video and more information. Click here to view images that NASA has captured of the gas giant.
A 22-year old from the UK has managed to take amazing photos of the edge of space by floating a £30 camera into the atmosphere using a large helium balloon. That's right, Adam Cudworth created a home-made device consisting of a box with a GPS, radio and microprocessor. After spending 40-hours building it, the box was attached to a balloon and lifted to an incredible height of 110,210-feet. It took 2.5-hours to fly 20-miles up into the atmosphere, before snapping impressive views of Earth from space. A GPS tracker was used to track the device's ascension and an attached radio transmitter alerted its location. Continue reading for another video and more information.
Several bright spots were discovered on the dwarf planet Ceres by the Dawn spacecraft in 2015. The brightest cluster of spots ("Spot 5") is located in an 80-kilometer (50 mi) crater called Occator. The largest and brightest component of the cluster is in the center of the crater, with dimmer spots located towards this crater's eastern rim. To this day, scientists still have not yet figured out what exactly is in these crater. Continue reading for more interesting Ceres facts.
WR 124 (above) is a Wolf-Rayet star in the constellation of Sagitta surrounded by a ring nebula of expelled material known as M1-67. It is one of the fastest runaway stars in the galaxy with a radial velocity around 200 km/s, and was discovered by Paul W. Merrill in 1938, identified as a high velocity Wolf Rayet star. It's surrounded by an intensely hot nebula formed from the star's extreme stellar wind. The nebula M1-67 is expanding at a rate of over 150,000 km/h (100,000 mph) and is nearly 6 light-years across, leading to the dynamical age of 20,000 years. Continue reading for more amazing space photos that were captured this year.