Seeing Starspots: The Curious Case of XX Trianguli

Ever wonder what happens on the surface of other stars? An amazing animation was released this week by astronomers at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics (AIP) in Potsam Germany, showing massive sunspot activity on the variable star XX Trianguli (HD 12545). (…)Read the rest of Seeing Starspots: The Curious Case of XX Trianguli (786 words) […]

Astronomers Spot a Intriguing ‘5-Star’ Multiple System

An interesting multiple star discovery turned up in the ongoing hunt for exoplanetary systems. The discovery was announced by Marcus Lohr of Open University early this month at the National Astronomy Meeting that was held at Venue Cymru in Llandudno, Wales. The discovery involves as many as five stars in a single stellar system, orbiting […]

What’s the Big Deal About the Pentaquark?

“Three quarks for Muster Mark!,” wrote James Joyce in his labyrinthine fable, Finnegan’s Wake. By now, you may have heard this quote – the short, nonsensical sentence that eventually gave the name “quark” to the Universe’s (as-yet-unsurpassed) most fundamental building blocks. Today’s physicists believe that they understand the basics of how quarks combine; three join up to form baryons (everyday particles like the […]

Solved: The Riddle of the Nova of 1670

It is a 17th century astronomical enigma that has persisted right up until modern times. On June 20, 1670, a new star appeared in the evening sky that gave 17th century astronomers pause. Eventually peaking out at +3rd magnitude, the ruddy new star in the modern day constellation of Vulpecula the Fox was visible for almost […]

As It Turns Out, We Really Are All Starstuff

“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars,” Carl Sagan famously said in his 1980 series Cosmos. “We are made of starstuff.” And even today, observations with NASA’s airborne SOFIA observatory are supporting this statement. Measurements […]

‘Lopsided’ Supernova Could Be Responsible for Rogue Hypervelocity Stars

Hypervelocity stars have been observed traversing the Galaxy at extreme velocities (700 km/s), but the mechanisms that give rise to such phenomena are still debated.  Astronomer Thomas M. Tauris argues that lopsided supernova explosions can eject lower-mass Solar stars from the Galaxy at speeds up to 1280 km/s.   “[This mechanism] can account for the majority (if not all) of […]

Luna vs. the Hyades! The 1st of 13 Occultations of Aldebaran Set For January 29th

The cosmos is continually in motion. Be it atoms, stars or snowflakes from the latest nor’easter pounding the New England seaboard, anything worth studying involves movement. And as skies and snowbound roads clear, this Wednesday and Thursday evening will give us a reason to brave the January cold, as the waxing gibbous Moon pierces the […]

Challenge Yourself! See an Astronomical Event that Only Happens Once Every 26 Years

A truly fascinating event may be in the offing this month. Picture two distant burning embers (candles, light bulbs, LEDs, what have you) circling each other in the distance. From our far-flung vantage point, the two points of light are too faint to resolve individually, but as they pass in front of each other, a […]