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The Milky Way galaxy shown in X-rays.
Abstractions blog

Galaxy-Size Bubbles Discovered Towering Over the Milky Way

January 6, 2021

For decades, astronomers debated whether a particular smudge was close-by and small, or distant and huge. A new X-ray map supports the massive option.

Abstractions blog

Astronomers Get Their Wish, and a Cosmic Crisis Gets Worse

December 17, 2020

We don’t know why the universe appears to be expanding faster than it should. New ultra-precise distance measurements have only intensified the problem.

A computer simulation of two galaxies colliding.

The New History of the Milky Way

December 15, 2020

Over the past two years, astronomers have rewritten the story of our galaxy.

Spheres of three different sizes.
Abstractions blog

Debate Erupts Over How ‘Forbidden’ Black Holes Grow

November 3, 2020

Once missing in action, middleweight black holes have finally been detected. Now researchers are trying to figure out how they grow from small ones.

Abstractions blog

Physics Nobel Awarded for Black Hole Breakthroughs

October 6, 2020

Roger Penrose, Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for their studies of black holes.

Distorted galaxies
Abstractions blog

A New Cosmic Tension: The Universe Might Be Too Thin

September 8, 2020

Cosmologists have concluded that the universe doesn’t appear to clump as much as it should. Could both of cosmology’s big puzzles share a single fix?

Photo of a sign reading “To Telescope” near Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.
Quantized Columns

Social Distancing From the Stars

August 11, 2020

Professional astronomers may not point their telescopes by hand anymore, but COVID-19 has still closed observatories and impeded research.

Magnetic fields in the universe.

The Hidden Magnetic Universe Begins to Come Into View

July 2, 2020

Astronomers are discovering that magnetic fields permeate much of the cosmos. If these fields date back to the Big Bang, they could solve a major cosmological mystery.

A magnetar.

A Surprise Discovery Points to the Source of Fast Radio Bursts

June 11, 2020

After a burst lit up their telescope “like a Christmas tree,” astronomers were able to finally track down the source of these cosmic oddities.