Jan 22, 2020

Scientists get a new view of the Swan Nebula

Photo: NASA/SOFIA/Lim, De Buizer & Radomski et al.; ESA/Herschel; NASA/JPL-Caltech

More than 100 young, massive stars shine within the heart of the Swan Nebula.

Why it matters: These types of observations allow scientists to map the nebula, revealing new information about the evolution of this active, star-forming region of the Milky Way.

  • A new photo taken by the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) shows off the clouds and young stars of that nebula more than 5,000 light-years away from Earth.
  • "This is the most detailed view of the nebula we have ever had at these wavelengths," Jim De Buizer, a senior scientist at the SOFIA Science Center, said in a statement. "It's the first time we can see some of its youngest, massive stars and start to truly understand how it evolved into the iconic nebula we see today."

Go deeper: The violent deaths of the first stars

Go deeper

Saying goodbye to the Spitzer Space Telescope

The Tarantula Nebula as seen by the Spitzer Space Telescope. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

On Thursday, NASA will shut down the Spitzer Space Telescope, ending a mission that transformed how we understand the invisible machinations of the universe.

Why it matters: While the telescope is still able to function today, NASA made the decision to shut it down, saying $14 million per year is too high a cost for its diminishing science return as the observatory will likely be inoperable soon.

Go deeperArrowJan 28, 2020

Astronomers capture a stellar deep space confrontation

Photo: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), Olofsson, et al.

There's no match for the drama of a confrontation in deep space. Astronomers spotted this gas cloud created when one dying star became a red giant, growing large enough to encircle a companion star.

What's happening: The companion star then fell toward the dying one, forcing it to slough off its outer layers of gas, according to the European Southern Observatory, exposing its core.

Go deeperArrowFeb 12, 2020 - Science

We're about to learn a lot more about the Sun

The Sun is getting its due. Photo: NASA/SDO/AIA

The Sun is getting a long-overdue close-up thanks to a number of new missions designed to reveal the inner workings of our nearest star.

Why it matters: The mechanisms that govern the solar wind, the Sun's 11-year cycle and magnetic fields are still largely a mystery.

Go deeperArrowFeb 11, 2020 - Science