Astronomy

SpaceX's Starlink has a new foe: Astronomers

Gif of Starlink satellite being released
Starlink satellites deploying in orbit. Credit: SpaceX

Many skywatchers were delighted to spot a bright line of SpaceX's internet-beaming Starlink satellites pass overhead this weekend, but to astronomers, it was an ominous sign of things to come.

Why it matters: Bright satellites in the night sky can affect astronomy by getting in the way of sensitive, long exposure photos. Usually, researchers can work around these satellites by tracking their orbits and accounting for their predictable movements, but with more satellites come more complications.

The violent deaths of the first stars

A photo of a supernova explosion in deep space.
The remnants of a supernova explosion. Photo: NASA/CXC/SAO

The first stars born just millions of years after the Big Bang are thought to have been massive, bright balls of helium and hydrogen, with heavy elements like carbon, zinc and iron forming in their cores.

Driving the news: A new study published in the Astrophysical Journal details how these stars died, seeding the universe with elements that eventually gave rise to our sun, planets, other stars and more.