Astronomy

Spotting a galaxy, and other discoveries that were total accidents

Astrophysicist Patrick Treuthardt wasn’t looking for a rare galaxy. But while gazing at a cluster of galaxies, he happened to notice a small, unobtrusive speck. The speck turned out to be PGC 10000714, an elliptical galaxy surrounded by two rings of stars. It’s one of the rarest types of galaxies in the universe and Treuthardt found it by chance. 

A lot of major scientific discoveries can happen by accident, failure or just plain dumb luck. 

NASA Scientists Discover Seven Potentially Earth-Like Planets

NASA scientists discover seven potentially Earth-like planets
 
March 3, 2017

In the search for life beyond our solar system, the discovery of a planet theoretically capable of sustaining life is monumental. Scientists working with NASA’s Spitzer and Hubble telescopes have found seven of these rare planets orbiting a single star.

Understanding a Solar Eclipse: Then and Now

Thanks to scientific observations with telescopes, satellites and mathematical calculations, we not only understand what happens during a solar eclipse but we can also predict when they will occur and where they will be seen well into the future. 

That hasn’t always been the case. 

Take, for example, the origin of the word eclipse. It’s derived from the ancient Greek word ekleipsis, meaning "abandonment." You get the idea. The folks back then thought the Sun had just turned off. It had, in effect, abandoned the Earth. 

Star Finders

Pulsars are rotating neutron stars that appear to be blinking from where we see them on Earth, and astronomers have not found very many of them. Watch as High Point University students travel to an observatory in Chile to discover one of of these rare stars.

To Lasso an Asteroid

Officially, it’s called the Asteroid Initiative.

The plan was incented by President Barack Obama's call for NASA to send a manned mission to a near-Earth asteroid by 2025, and then aim for flight to Mars in the 2030s.

NASA's initiative offered a number of advantages. It was new and novel; no human had visited an asteroid before. And with very little gravity, the project didn’t require expensive landers and ascent vehicles.

Space Scoop

See the new device NASA is testing to chip pieces off an asteroid. The new tool for astronauts was not developed in NASA labs, but rather at High Point University right here in North Carolina. Scientists are interested in asteroids because they haven't changed much since the dawn of the solar system. Asteroid fragments that the "chip and ship" could capture would help give scientists an early picture of the solar system.

Pages