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Magellan Baade telescope and CMB illustration

Earliest Black Hole Gives Rare Glimpse of Ancient Universe

It weighs as much as 780 million suns and helped to cast off the cosmic Dark Ages. But now that astronomers have found the earliest known black hole, they wonder: How could this giant have grown so big, so fast?

Plunge Into A (Virtual Reality) Black Hole

Plunge Into a (Virtual Reality) Black Hole

Join a fleet of robotic probes on a one-way virtual-reality trip into the abyss of a massive black hole.

An artist’s conception of the Vela Supercluster peeking out from behind the Milky Way’s Zone of Avoidance.

Hidden Supercluster Could Solve Milky Way Mystery

Astronomers generally stay away from the “Zone of Avoidance.” When one astronomer didn’t, she found a giant cosmic structure that could help explain why our galaxy moves so fast.

A projection showing how the positions of some 2 million stars measured by the Gaia satellite are expected to evolve in the future.
Abstractions blog

Deathblow Dealt to Dark Matter Disks

New data tracking the movements of millions of Milky Way stars have effectively ruled out the presence of a “dark disk” that could have offered important clues to the mystery of dark matter.

An artist’s view of a pulsar near the center of the Messier 82 galaxy.

Galactic Glow, Thought to Be Dark Matter, Now Hints at Hidden Pulsars

A number of high-energy anomalies raised hopes that astrophysicists had seen their first direct glimpses of dark matter. New studies suggest a different source may be responsible.

‘Crazy’ Supernova Looks Like a New Kind of Star Death

‘Crazy’ Supernova Looks Like a New Kind of Star Death

Astronomers are mystified by a strange star explosion in a distant galaxy that might be a relic from an earlier cosmological era.

Zoomable Universe - rectangular thumbnail

From the Edge of the Universe to the Inside of a Proton

The Zoomable Universe, a new book by the astrobiologist Caleb Scharf, the illustrator Ron Miller and 5W Infographics, tours the universe’s 62 orders of magnitude.


Squishy or Solid? A Neutron Star’s Insides Open to Debate

The core of a neutron star is such an extreme environment that physicists can’t agree on what happens inside. But a new space-based experiment — and a few more colliding neutron stars — should reveal whether neutrons themselves break down.

Artist’s rendering of merging neutron stars.

Colliding Neutron Stars Could Settle the Biggest Debate in Cosmology

Newly discovered “standard sirens” provide an independent, clean way to measure how fast the universe is expanding.