Over the past two decades, powerful instruments, like the now-retired Kepler space telescope, have allowed astronomers to identify thousands of exoplanets. While the unique new worlds, which range from fiery gas giants to icy spheres, have helped increase astronomers' knowledge about the development of planets, the process of how they form has always been a mystery. Now, scientists may finally get some answers thanks to the stunning first-ever images of a new exoplanet being "born" about 520 light years from Earth.
Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) are always thrilled to welcome new crew members to the orbiting laboratory. However, the May 31, 2020, arrival of NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley on SpaceX's Endeavour was particularly exciting. It was the first piloted launch from American soil since the US Space Shuttle program was retired in 2011 and the first human spaceflight performed by a public-private partnership — NASA and SpaceX.
The Sahara Desert, which encompasses over 3.6 million square miles of Northern Africa, is one of the harshest and most inhospitable places on the planet today. However, new research conducted by a team of international paleontologists has found that millions of years ago, the area was a lush green oasis filled with a frightening line-up of ferocious carnivores, including flying reptiles, crocodile-like hunters, and aquatic dinosaurs.
Due to COVID-19, the Class of 2020 is missing out on a traditional graduation. However, those who accepted SpaceX's invitation to upload selfies to the company's website will commemorate their milestone year with a journey most people only dream about.
Given their reputation as solitary creatures that come together only to mate and hibernate, the notion of snakes hanging out in groups with their "best friends" may sound a little far-fetched. However, a recent study conducted by researchers from Canada's Wilfrid Laurier University asserts that the reptiles not only actively seek out socialization with their peers, but are also extremely particular about who they spend time with.
Since early May, visitors to the Padre Island National Seashore off the coast of South Texas have been discovering specimens of the rare blue dragon, or Glaucus atlanticus. Though the name evokes images of flying, fire breathing monsters, the delicate creatures are a type of sea slug that spend their lives in the temperate and tropical waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans.
Given that each light-year — defined as the distance light travels in one Earth year — is about 6 trillion miles (9 trillion km), a black hole that lies 1,000 light-years away may not seem very close. However, to astronomers who are accustomed to cosmic distance scales, the recently-discovered HR 6819's black hole, which lies in the constellation Telescopium, is an extremely close neighbor.
Nickelodeon's annual Kids Choice Awards show is notorious for dumping buckets of green slime on the heads of unsuspecting hosts and celebrities. Fortunately for the winners, that was not possible during this year's virtual award ceremony, aired on May 2, 2020. To compensate, the popular children's cable channel surprised the millions of online viewers with footage of International Space Station (ISS) astronauts getting "slimed". The video's debut was particularly timely given that May 2, 2020, was National Astronomy Day!