Alan MacRobert previews Comet ISON

Celestial News & Events

Comet ISON Preview (Video)

S&T senior editor Alan MacRobert tells you what you need to know to get ready for Comet ISON.

Sunspot and granulation from Hinode

Stellar Science

Old, Fat Stars Flicker

Observing the pattern of flickers in a star’s light offers a new way for astronomers to measure one of the basic properties of stars — and any exoplanets they might host.


Kepler KO'd; NASA Ponders New Purpose

The disabled space telescope's prolific planet-hunting run is officially over, as the team abandons efforts to salvage its full pointing ability and focuses on data analysis. Its next mission? Hunting for a job.

Solar System

Under Stress, Asteroids May Be Fragile

A new microgravity experiment demonstrates the weird, unstable fluidity of asteroid surfaces, with potential consequences for visiting craft.

Space Missions

Wave at Saturn (But Will Cassini See You?)

Cassini is taking our picture on Friday, but how much light do we humans actually reflect? We've crunched the numbers, and the answer may surprise you.


A Glassy Blue Jupiter

For the first time, astronomers know the true color of an exoplanet — and it appears an un-Earthly shade of blue. But don't pack your bags…

Stellar Science

Taming the "Zoo" of Neutron Stars

These stellar corpses have many faces, from pulsars to magnetars. New models provide evidence for unifying these disparate objects under one theory.

Stellar Science

Now Playing: Core Collapse in 3D

Scientists have made the most realistic simulations yet of the violent collapse of dying massive stars in three dimensions.

Stellar Science

Stars Spinning Beats

A phenomenon you usually hear can now be seen in stars' rotation, and it may help untangle the mysteries of their magnetic fields.


Three Habitable Planets? Maybe

Two new studies highlight the growing importance of red dwarfs in the competitive search for alien worlds — and the challenges of characterizing them.


How to Toast a Planet

A new study suggests that close-in gas giants may heat up electrically like toaster coils plugged in to their host stars via the power lines of the stellar wind — explaning why the planets inflate.

Professional Telescopes

Sequestration's Impact on Astronomy

From international travel to interplanetary probes, the U.S. budget cuts are having impacts on both ground- and space-based astronomy.


Exoplanets After Kepler: What’s next?

In the wake of the apparent loss of the Kepler mission, the exoplanet community salutes one of its legends while pivoting to new ground- and space-based opportunities.


No Planet of Alpha Centauri B?

The uncertain tale of our closest exoplanet neighbor — is it there or isn’t it? — may end on a cliffhanger.

Stellar Science

The Oldest, Loneliest Supernova

A distant explosion of a white dwarf, the oldest of its kind, may help reveal the cause of death for other, closer dwarfs.

Stellar Science

Does a Famous Nova Have a "Suicide Pact"?

The usual fate for a recurrent nova is that a white dwarf fattens up at the expense of its companion and then explodes as a supernova. But the two stars of the system T Pyxidis might be bringing about their own destruction in an unusual way.