What's up in

astronomy

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.
cosmology

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.
astrophysics

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.

Video of hot gas falling into a supermassive black hole.
Abstractions blog

Why Are Black Holes So Bright?

April 22, 2020

And why is the black hole at the center of our own galaxy so dim?

Antares photograph.
Abstractions blog

New Wrinkle Added to Cosmology’s Hubble Crisis

February 26, 2020

A problem confronts cosmology: Two independent measurements of the universe’s expansion give incompatible answers. Now a third method, advanced by an astronomy pioneer, appears to bridge the divide.

Painting of a planet and a star.
exoplanets

New Exoplanet Search Strategy Claims First Discovery

February 18, 2020

By watching for a special kind of flare, astronomers have identified the fingerprints of an Earth-size planet orbiting a distant star.