Astronomy & Astrophysics

Astronomy may well be the oldest science of all, seeking answers to questions such as: "Where did it all come from?" and "Are we alone?" But, today's astronomers are focusing on phenomena our forbearers never imagined—planets orbiting other stars, for example; black holes the size of our solar system; galaxies being driven apart by invisible "dark energy"; ripples in the fabric of space and time; and of course the big bang, where time itself began.

Chapter III: Soledad Fuica at ALMA Observatory

This video is based on a gathering between students and scientists organized last year by AUI/NRAO, SOCHIAS and Inspiring Girls, with the enthusiastic participation of scientists from the ALMA and ESO Observatories and three universities in Chile

Using frequency combs to search for planets

The hunt for Earth-like planets, and perhaps extraterrestrial life, just got more precise, thanks to record-setting starlight measurements made possible by a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) "astrocomb"

Event Horizon Telescope's monumental discovery, explained

The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) -- a planet-scale array of eight ground-based radio telescopes forged through international collaboration -- was designed to capture images of a black hole. On April 10, in coordinated press conferences across the globe, EHT researchers revealed that they have succeeded, unveiling the first direct visual evidence of a supermassive black hole and its shadow

What is a black hole?

What is a black hole? Hans Krimm, an observational astronomer at the National Science Foundation, answers the question on this edition of "Ask a Scientist."

How the seeds of planets take shape

In theoretical research that could explain everything from planet formation to outflows from stars to even the settling of volcanic ash, Caltech researchers have discovered a new mechanism to explain how the act of dust moving through gas leads to clumps of dust

A time-lapse of the Vavilov Ice Cap's collapse

In the last few years, the Vavilov Ice Cap in the Russian High Arctic has dramatically accelerated, sliding as much as 82 feet a day in 2015, according to a new multi-national, multi-institute study

Multi-messenger astrophysics neutrino breakthrough

On Sept. 22, 2017, the National Science Foundation's IceCube Neutrino Observatory alerted the international astronomy community that a high-energy neutrino had passed through the Earth. That notification set in motion follow-on observations from nearly two dozen observatories on Earth and in space, ultimately confirming the source of the neutrino, a first for science

Ripples of gravity, flashes of light

On Aug. 17, 2017, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) and Virgo detected, for the first time, gravitational waves from the collision of two neutron stars

LIGO Detection

LIGO Detection reveals what unfolded behind the scenes between the detection of merging black holes on 14 September 2015, and five months later when LIGO announced it to the world.

NSF Science Now: Episode 50

In this week's episode, we learn how AI uncovers insights into cancer, how loops give toughness to spider silk, a newly released database of stars and finally, we investigate a novel water testing technique. Check it out!

Women engineers discuss ‘Hidden Figures’ and lingering challenges

The nonfiction book and its film counterpart "Hidden Figures" revealed the genius behind the American space race in the 1960s: a cohort of black women who, despite segregation and discrimination, applied their genius in math and engineering to help send our rockets and astronauts into space and bring them back safely.

Supercomputers solve case of missing galaxies

California Institute of Technology (Caltech) associate professor of theoretical astrophysics Phil Hopkins and Carnegie-Caltech Research Fellow Andrew Wetzel use massive supercomputers to build the most detailed and realistic simulation of galaxy formation ever created.

The nature of matter

If there's one thing that we think we understand, it's matter. After all, matter makes up everything around us; it even makes up you. However, all is not as it seems.

Why does time advance? Richard Muller's new theory

A simple question from his wife -- Does physics really allow people to travel back in time? -- propelled physicist Richard Muller on a quest to resolve a fundamental problem that had puzzled him throughout his 45-year career: Why does the arrow of time flow inexorably toward the future, constantly creating new "nows"?

When protons collide

A proton collision is like a car accident--except when it isn't. Boston University physicist Kevin Black explains why. (Watch out for the kitchen sink!)

Happy B-day NSF!

For more than six decades, the National Science Foundation has funded science and engineering research that has led to discoveries and innovations that transformed our world.

Science of Innovation: Origami structures

Origami is the ancient Japanese art of paper folding. But to engineer Mary Frecker of Pennsylvania State University, it is the future for designing tools that could be used in fields such as medicine and space exploration.

NSF Science Now: Episode 40

In this episode we create an ice storm lab, discover gravitational-waves, track the path of chemo drugs and, finally, test out new deep-sea ROV grippers for handling fragile coral and sponges.

Do we live in a multiverse?

In this video, Fermilab's Don Lincoln explains how the existence of a multiverse is a possible answer to the question of why the universe seems so well tuned for human life.

Kiss of death

In episode 26, Charlie and Jordan delve into the discovery of water on Mars, chat about a new Ebola field test and explore the immune system's "kiss of death."

GUTs and TOEs

Albert Einstein said that what he wanted to know was "God's thoughts," which is a metaphor for the ultimate and most basic rules of the universe.

Big mysteries: dark energy

Scientists were shocked in 1998 when the expansion of the universe wasn't slowing down as expected by our best understanding of gravity at the time; the expansion was speeding up!

Super strings

The quest to find the ultimate building blocks of nature is one of the oldest in all of physics. While we are far from knowing the answer to that question, one intriguing proposed answer is that all matter is composed of tiny "strings." The known particles are simply different vibrational patterns of these strings. In this video, Fermilab's Dr. Don Lincoln explains this idea, using interesting and accessible examples of real-world vibrations.

The island rule

In episode 18, Jordan and Charlie chat about the island rule, how spiral galaxies get their shape and the small brains in social wasps.

A new frontier: Mars

After spending years searching for ancient, buried ice elsewhere on planet earth, geologists turn their eyes to Mars, applying their Antarctic field techniques to search for ice buried beneath the Martian surface.

Is the Higgs boson really the Higgs boson?

The deputy physics coordinator for CERN's CMS experiment Darin Acosta explains what we know about the Higgs boson and what remains to be discovered. NSF funds the CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid) experiment, which is investigating a wide range of physics, including the search for the Higgs boson, extra dimensions, and particles that could make up dark matter.

The search for the origin of dark energy

Members of the Dark Energy Survey collaboration explain what they hope to learn by studying the southern sky with the world's most advanced digital camera, mounted on a telescope in Chile.

Quantum foam

The laws of quantum mechanics and relativity are quite perplexing. However, it is when the two theories are merged that things get really confusing. This combined theory predicts that empty space isn't empty at all - it's a seething and bubbling cauldron of matter and antimatter particles springing into existence before disappearing back into nothingness. Scientists call this complicated state of affairs "quantum foam." In this video, Fermilab's Don Lincoln discusses this mind-bending idea and sketches some of the experiments that have convinced scientists that this crazy prediction is actually true.

Big questions: Dark matter

Carl Sagan's statement that there are "billions and billions" of stars in the cosmos gives an idea of just how much "stuff" there is in the universe. However scientists now believe that in addition to the type of matter with which we are familiar, there is another kind of matter out there. This new kind of matter is called "dark matter" and there seems to be five times as much as ordinary matter. Dark matter interacts only with gravity, therefore light simply zips right by it. Fermilab's Don Lincoln tells us why we think this seemingly-crazy idea might not be so crazy after all.

The big bang theory

In this video, Fermilab's Don Lincoln tells about the big bang theory and sketches some speculative ideas about what caused the universe to come into existence.

Is the Higgs boson really the Higgs boson?

The deputy physics coordinator for CERN's CMS experiment Darin Acosta explains what we know about the Higgs boson and what remains to be discovered. NSF funds the CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid) experiment, which is investigating a wide range of physics, including the search for the Higgs boson, extra dimensions, and particles that could make up dark matter.

NSF Science Now: Episode 21

In this week's episode we discover the oldest fossil evidence of modern, venomous snakes in Africa. We discover what was going on in the earliest moments of our universe just after the Big Bang, and finally we learn about a new weather radar network in Texas.

NSF Science Now Episode 17

This week's episode explores silicon chip technology that could possibly extend cell phone battery life, babies and higher math ability, a drone helping farmers better manage their crops, and finally how more than 83,000 volunteer citizen scientists helped an international research team catalog over 300,000 nearby galaxies.

Firefly mission to study lightning

This short teaser video introduces us to the mission of Firefly, a CubeSat built by undergraduate students with the partnership of Goddard Space Flight Center and the National Science Foundation.

Dark Energy Survey

Members of the Dark Energy Survey collaboration explain what they hope to learn by studying the southern sky with the world's most advanced digital camera, mounted on a telescope in Chile.

Star songs

Several different types of stars and their flickers translated into audio files

NSF Science Now, Episode 14

This week's episode of NSF Science Now explores sea turtle locomotion by researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology, new images from the Gemini North telescope of comet ISON, also how researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign have created the first digital cameras that mimics insects' unique, 180-degree vision and finally we'll explore Antarctica through a unique Rutgers University program documentary about science on the frigid continent.

Storms In Space

We depend on the Sun for heat and light, but there's a lot more going on than meets the eye," says NCAR solar physicist Scott McIntosh. On a whirlwind tour of the Sun's magnetic forces, MacIntosh describes the impact solar storms can have on Earth's environment and explains how scientists study this powerhouse of mass and energy.

Science Behind The News: Impacts On Jupiter

The impact of comets on the surface of Jupiter are a fairly common experience. At the University of Central Florida, astronomers Joseph Harrington and Csaba Palotai are leading a project that studies precisely how these impacts happen, and also provides valuable information about what might happen if such a comet struck Earth.

We Are All Stardust

When a meteor hits the earth, there is the possibility that it brings something very rare along with it: cosmic stardust older than our Solar System.

Mapping The Infant Universe

Dr. Charles Bennnett and his 26-member team were awarded the Gruber Foundation's 2012 Cosmology Prize for their transformative study of an ancient light dating back to the infant universe.

Most Distant Quasar Found

This ESOcast is about the discovery of the most distant quasar found to date. This brilliant beacon is powered by a black hole with a mass two billion times that of the Sun. It is by far the brightest object yet discovered in the early Universe.

Saturn's Weirdest Ring

Images from NASA's Cassini spacecraft have revealed half-mile-sized (kilometer-sized) objects punching through parts of Saturn's F ring, leaving glittering trails behind them.

Science Behind The News: Extrasolar Planets

Extrasolar planets, or exoplanets, are planets that orbit stars other than our sun. Astronomers like Dr. William Welsh at San Diego State University primarily use two methods to detect these distant planets: Doppler and Transit methods.

GigaGalaxy Zoom

GigaGalaxy Zoom reveals three amazing, ultra-high-resolution images of the night sky that online stargazers can zoom in on and explore in an incredible level of detail.

Climate And Space Weather

Researchers at the Danish National Space Center in Copenhagen have established a link between the amount of cosmic particles coming from space and changes in our planet's weather.

Fire And Ice

New evidence of water ice found on asteroid leads to new theory on how water arrived on the Earth

Space Food

What are the criteria for which foods get sent into space for astronauts?

Orion In A New Light

The Orion Nebula reveals many of its hidden secrets in a dramatic image taken by ESOs new VISTA survey telescope.

Spaced Out

Graduate students in astronomy get hands on training at the University of Arkansas Center for Planetary Studies

Mysteries Of The Cosmos

A panel of Astronomers speaking at Caltech on several discussions ranging from Measuring expansion of the universe, finding planets in neighboring stars, looking at what lies out towards the edge of our Solar System, the study of black holes.

Infant Galaxies

Hubble's latest image shows 13 billion-year-old infant (and still forming) galaxies.

Searching for E.T.: The Agony and the Ecstasy

In this lively presentation, SETI Institute senior astronomer Seth Shostak discusses the search for extraterrestrial life. With a trillion planets in our galaxy, Shostak believes chances are we are not alone.