April 14, 1991 |
Astronomers seem like friendly people, though they have peculiar ideas. Take Mike Dopita. He has spent the last four years down in Australia, looking at the explosion of a nearby star. It's exciting because it happened "next door," he explains. "Next door" turns out to be only 997,168,320,000,000,000 miles away, give or take a hundred billion or two. The Astronomers, PBS's maddeningly inconsistent six-hour series, visits with 30 or 40 people such as Dopita who live in our world but think about impossible, though not always far-off, things.
October 15, 2010
John Huchra, 61, an astronomer whose pioneering maps of a bubbly universe challenged notions of how the galaxies were born, died last Friday at his home in Lexington, Mass., of a heart attack, his wife, Rebecca M. Henderson, said. Dr. Huchra will be remembered as well for what looks like a child's stick-figure drawing of a man but in fact is a map showing how the galaxies are distributed through about 600 million light-years of space. Astronomers had long presumed that if they looked out far enough beyond the Local Group of galaxies to which the Milky Way belongs, galaxies would be spread more or less evenly.
March 15, 1987 |
The discovery three weeks ago of an exploding star blazing with the intensity of one billion suns has enabled astronomers at the University of Pennsylvania and other institutions around the globe to confirm key theories about the evolution of the universe. The exploding star, known as a supernova, has galvanized astronomers into an unprecedented frenzy of activity. New findings have been reported almost daily, and virtually every available astronomical tool in the Southern Hemisphere, where the supernova is visible to the naked eye, is focused on the star's violent aftermath.
February 19, 1991 |
Personal computers, microwave ovens, garage-door openers and car phones have become nearly essential components of life in the 1990s. But they also have become a growing threat to astronomers, who find that the skies have become polluted with the electromagnetic radiation given off by these common appliances. "You can't stop it. Everybody wants to have cellular telephones, microwaves and other devices that give off electronic pollution," said Paul A. Vanden Bout, director of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlottesville, Va. "I'm worried that the day will come when we can no longer do radio astronomy on Earth.
April 30, 1999
In this April sky, stars are perched, some long dead, irrelevant light that only now reaches us, on this, a night so clear I look up from the road, imagine my car a ship guided by Andromedae, as if I could let go the wheel, glance up into the lit distance, know in my bones I will reach home, the starlight a hand staying all my fears. The velocity of planets whirling above our heads; questions of life beyond our own fade as my astral thoughts regard a woman, closer than the stars, head thrown back perhaps, eyes closed tight - her departed child lost in the high and ominous light.
May 21, 2012 |
LOS ANGELES - Back when single-celled organisms ruled Earth, a gigantic black hole lurking quietly at the center of a distant galaxy dismantled and devoured a star. This month, astronomers reported that they watched the whole thing unfold over a period of 15 months starting in 2010, the first time such an event had been witnessed in great detail from start to finish. "The star got so close that it was ripped apart by the gravitational force of the black hole," said Johns Hopkins astronomer Suvi Gezari, lead author of a paper about the observations that was published online by the journal Nature.
April 19, 1995 |
A team of astronomers yesterday claimed the first definitive detection of objects making up the elusive "dark matter," long believed to lurk between the stars. The identity of dark matter is one of the biggest mysteries facing astronomers in their quest to understand the nature of the universe. The speculated dark matter is, by definition, invisible. Therefore, astronomers from Livermore National Laboratory, along with collaborators from Britain and Australia, used an indirect technique - looking for distorting effects that dark matter would have on light coming to Earth from more distant stars.
August 20, 1998 |
A little extra twinkle of some stars may be shining light on one of astronomy's darkest mysteries: Where is the 90 percent of our galaxy that appears to be missing? For two decades, astronomers have believed that the galaxy has a lot more mass than is visible, because outer stars are speeding around as if the galaxy weighs a lot more. Astronomers trying to track down the missing stuff call it dark matter. A team of American and Australian astronomers believes periodic spurts of extra light from distant stars provide evidence that could help account for about half the missing parts of the Milky Way. Something is causing these stars to brighten incredibly for about 80 days, and that something is probably the same dark matter that accounts for the galaxy's hidden weight, said team leader Charles Alcock of the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory.
July 10, 1994 |
Beginning Saturday, the planet Jupiter is expected to put on a celestial show the likes of which no human has ever seen before. Thousands of astronomers around the world will be glued to their telescopes from Saturday to July 21 to observe 21 mountain-sized chunks of a comet smashing into Jupiter, the solar system's largest planet. Each chunk will hit with an explosive force of about a million megatons of TNT. The total power of the collisions is expected to be 2,000 times greater than the Earth's entire nuclear arsenal.
January 20, 1997 |
About once every day, an explosion of unimaginable power goes off somewhere in space and is recorded by a NASA astronomy satellite. Since these mystery blasts were first picked up by a military satellite in the 1960s, no one has been able to figure out what is causing them or from where they are coming. "There are more than 100 theories - putting the bursts everywhere between the edge of the solar system and the edge of the universe," astronomer Samuel Larson of the University of California, Los Angeles, said.