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In the hunt for extrasolar planets, a new find is shattering records left and right.
A planet called WASP-12b is the hottest planet ever discovered (about 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit, or 2,200 degrees Celsius), and orbits its star faster and closer in than any other known world.
New images taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have revealed rare evidence of an impact crater in Mars' north polar region.
Around the red planet's north pole is a feature called the north polar layered deposits, which are a series of ice-rich layers deposited over time and up to several kilometers thick.
Around a distant star, two planets similar to Earth collided and were destroyed, astronomers said today.
The somewhat speculative scenario is based on the leftovers: a ring of debris around the star that includes a million times more dust than now circles our sun.
"It's as if Earth and Venus collided," said researcher Benjamin Zuckerman, UCLA professor of physics and astronomy. "Astronomers have never seen anything like this before. Apparently, major catastrophic collisions can take place in a fully mature planetary system."
As if the mysteries of dark matter and dark energy weren't vexing enough, another baffling cosmic puzzle has been discovered.
Patches of matter in the universe seem to be moving at very high speeds and in a uniform direction that can't be explained by any of the known gravitational forces in the observable universe. Astronomers are calling the phenomenon "dark flow."
The stuff that's pulling this matter must be outside the observable universe, researchers conclude.
An explosion originating near the edge of the universe has been seen by an orbiting NASA telescope. The burst of gamma rays is the farthest such event ever detected.
he blast, designated GRB 080913, arose from an exploding star 12.8 billion light-years away. It was detected by the Swift satellite and announced today.
"This is the most amazing burst Swift has seen," said the mission's lead scientist Neil Gehrels of the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "It's coming to us from near the edge of the visible universe."
A new study is underway to search for signs of habitability ... on Earth.
If that sounds like the ultimate waste of science funding, take a closer look. The project is designed to scan Earth from a distance and note the evidence for habitability, so that we can better detect that evidence on distant worlds. In essence, if we want to find life on alien planets, we have to study a planet known to host life to determine what clues to look for, scientists say.
Astronomers have confirmed the weight of the most massive star in the galaxy.
This behemoth, estimated to be roughly 116 times the mass of the sun, dwarfs most other stars in the galaxy. In fact, the next most massive star is about 89 solar masses, and it is a gravitationally bound sister to the record setter.
The next most massive ever weighed is 83 solar masses. Theory holds that stars can be up to about 150 solar masses.
Astronomers have identified the least luminous galaxy known, but it's surprisingly massive. The reason: It is loaded with invisible matter.
Dark matter is mysterious, unseen stuff that permeates the universe. Astronomers know it's there because of the gravity it creates. Without invoking dark matter, theories can't explain how galaxies stay together.
The galaxy, called Segue 1, is one of about two dozen small satellite galaxies orbiting our own Milky Way galaxy. A separate study last month, reported in the journal Science, found that all the known satellite galaxies are loaded with dark matter.
Astronomers peering out into our cosmic backyard have long understood that the Milky Way's galactic neighbors only seem similar on the surface. Now a detailed survey from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has revealed the diversity of those galaxies as they evolve over time.
The ACS Nearby Galaxy Survey Treasury (ANGST) program zeroed in on 14 million stars in 69 nearby galaxies. Such galaxies sit close enough so that Hubble's sharp eyes could single out the brightest stars instead of seeing a giant smear of light, and may help settle raging debates over how galaxies and their stars form in the first place.