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Space / Astronomy

Why interstellar objects like ‘Oumuamua and Borisov may hold clues to exoplanets

The detection of two celestial interlopers careening through our solar system has scientists eagerly anticipating more

Speedy downloads: Why NASA is turning to lasers for next-gen space comms

The first tests of optical communications far from Earth will take place aboard the asteroid-bound Psyche spacecraft

The ‘least crazy’ idea: Early dark energy could solve a cosmological conundrum

Measurements of the acceleration of the universe don’t agree, stumping physicists working to understand the cosmic past and future. A new proposal seeks to better align these estimates — and is likely testable.

What would signal life on another planet?

Astronomers have long debated what kind of chemistry might serve as a bona fide alien biosignature. With the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, those ideas may be put to the test.

Probing the mysteries of neutron stars with a surprising earthly analog

Ultracold gases in the lab could help scientists to better understand the universe

The long-awaited mission that could transform our understanding of Mars

A next-generation instrument on a delayed Martian rover may be the key to answering the question of life on the Red Planet

Can cosmology untangle the universe’s most elusive mysteries?

From the Big Bang to dark energy, knowledge of the cosmos has sped up in the past century — but big questions linger

What the image of the Milky Way’s black hole really shows

The massive object at the galaxy’s center is invisible. But this year’s picture of the swirling plasma around its edges will help to reveal more about the galaxy’s history and evolution.

Orbiting robots could help fix and fuel satellites in space

Machines that grip, grapple and maneuver will soon have their go at maintaining the fleet of small spacecraft that encircle Earth

The search for exoplanets

PODCAST: Not that long ago, scientists found evidence that our Sun wasn’t unique — other stars have their own orbiting bodies. It was a discovery centuries in the making. What does this mean for Earth today and our place in the universe? (Season 2/Episode 2)

Are we ready? Understanding just how big solar flares can get

Recasting the iconic Carrington Event as just one of many superstorms in Earth’s past, scientists reveal the potential for even more massive, and potentially destructive, eruptions from the sun

A galactic archaeologist digs into the Milky Way’s history

Astrophysicists now have the data and models to uncover subtle imprints from our galaxy’s past

Primordial black holes could explain dark matter, galaxy growth and more

A half-century-old, still-disputed idea about dense cosmic objects from the dawn of time could solve longstanding mysteries about the universe

Keeping time with zircons

Crystals of the mineral zircon are rugged enough to survive the most violent geologic events. Impurities within them provide a time capsule of planetary history.

How black holes morphed from theory to reality

PODCAST: Physicists were mostly skeptical back when the idea of them emerged a century ago from Einstein’s work. The evolution of the evidence, from circumstantial to conclusive, is the quintessential story of science. (Season 1/Episode 1)

How researchers are making do in the time of Covid

The coronavirus pandemic has shuttered labs and sidelined scientists all over the world. Here’s a look at how some of them have coped.

Seeking surprises in comets and asteroids

Exploring small bodies in the solar system provides clues to origins

Rodents in space: Keeping bone and muscle strong on the ISS

Researchers helped mice stay mighty with an experiment to counter the effects of microgravity. The gene treatment might also enhance muscle and bone health on Earth — and in humans.

Beyond the twilight zone

Tidally locked worlds are places of extremes. On one side it’s an endless day, the other a perpetual night. Yet scientists speculate that some may harbor conditions that could support life.

An elemental problem with the sun

For two decades, astronomers have argued over how much carbon, nitrogen and especially oxygen lie within our closest star — a dispute with implications for the entire universe

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