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Science-based Q&A

How Many Planets Are In Our Solar System?

There are eight planets in the solar system: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.

Green Bank Telescope

Professional Telescopes

Green Bank Observatory Goes Independent

Green Bank is celebrating its 60th birthday by seceding from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.

Solar System

Mars Orbiters Duck for Cover

Mission planners have devised an unusual strategy for protecting orbiting spacecraft when Comet Siding Spring passes the Red Planet in October 2014.

Solar System

Extreme Volcanoes on Jupiter's Moon Io

Even on Io, a world known for spouting off, the titanic volcanic eruption seen on August 29, 2013, was among the most powerful ever recorded — unleashing an estimated 20 terawatts of energy.

Science-based Q&A

Is space flat or curved?

Locally, spacetime is curved by the presence of massive objects. The total mass and energy density of the universe also has an effect on the overall curvature of space.

Science-based Q&A

What came before the Big Bang?

There was no “before the Big Bang"—the Big Bang created both time and space as we know it.

Science-based Q&A

What is dark matter?

Dark matter is a mysterious type of matter that doesn't interact with any form of electromagnetic radiation, i.e., light. Although we’ve never detected dark matter directly, a large amount of evidence points to its existence.

Astronomy Questions & Answers

How fast is the universe expanding?

Just how quickly is the universe expanding? Cosmologists attempt to answer this question in terms of the Hubble Constant, but the exact value of this constant is still a topic of debate.

Science-based Q&A

Is the universe infinite?

Is the universe infinite, or just really, really big? How can we know? To answer these questions, we examine the possible shapes of the universe.

Celestial News & Events

The Not Very Supermoon

The media are all aflutter over the second of this summer's supermoon trio. But just how super is this moon, really?

Solar System

NASA Gears Up for Mars 2020 Rover

Six years from now, there will be a new NASA robot heading to the Red Planet: the Mars 2020 rover. On July 31st mission planners unveiled the rover’s seven scientific instruments, which will pave the way for human exploration of Mars.

Stellar Science

Fermi Finds "Transformer" Pulsar

NASA's Fermi Space Telescope recently spotted a pulsar in a rare transitional phase as it devours the matter of its companion star.

Stellar Science

X-Ray Glow Evidence of Local Hot Bubble

Scientists have confirmed that the soft X-ray glow permeating the sky has two sources: one inside the solar system, one outside.

Science-based Q&A

How Far is the Closest Star?

Barring the Sun, the closest star to Earth is a triple system called Alpha Centauri, which is over four light years away.

Astronomy Questions & Answers

How is Time Changed Inside a Black Hole?

Because black holes severely warp the fabric of spacetime, they have a curious effect on the passage of time as seen by an outside observer.

Supermassive black hole, NASA/JPL-Caltech

Science-based Q&A

Sizes of Black Holes: How Big is a Black Hole?

Black holes are singularities: points of infinitely small volume with infinite density. However, the amount of a mass concentrated in a black hole varies, and the mass determines how wide the black hole's sphere of influence is.

Astronomy Questions & Answers

How do black holes form?

Different types of black holes form through different processes.

Astronomy Questions & Answers

Are Black Holes Real? If so, Who Discovered Them?

The concept of a black hole was first contrived in by John Michell 1783. For a long time, many notable scientists, including Albert Einstein, believed black holes were merely theoretical. However, in the last century, astronomers have gathered a good deal of observational evidence for the existence of black holes.

conceptual image of a black hole

Science-based Q&A

What is a black hole?

A black hole is a region of space where the force of gravity is so strong that the escape velocity exceeds the speed of light.

Astronomy Questions & Answers

What's the Origin of the Universe? What happened during the Big Bang?

The Big Bang marked the beginning of the universe's expansion from a singularity — a single point that was infinitely small, infinitely hot, and infinitely dense. Cosmologists have designated several distinct eras for the universe's evolution from the first moments after the Big Bang to a billion years later.