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Astronomy & Space Discoveries

NSF's public investment in science, engineering, education and technology helps to create knowledge and sustain prosperity. Read here about the Internet, microbursts, Web browsers, extrasolar planets, and more... a panoply of discoveries and innovations that began with NSF support.

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Image of two white starts orbiting one another. Predicting "Cosmic Fireworks" From Our Own Backyard
Using the largest map of the cosmos ever, astronomers have counted nearby double white dwarfs, stars thought to cause an important type of supernova
Released  March 13, 2012
Photo of an NSF-funded ISR radar in Resolute Bay, Nunavut, Canada. Tracking the Causes of Space-based Weather Disruptions
Scientists use innovative Radio Aurora Explorer satellite to discover conditions that cause disruptions in space-based communication and navigation signals
Released  March 16, 2011
High-resolution image of a sunspot taken at the Sacramento Peak Observatory, New Mexico. How the Sun Gets Its Spots
To prevent solar damage to communication, navigation and other high tech systems, scientists are determining the temperatures, composition and movement of materials inside the sun
Released  January 7, 2011
Kavli Prize logo Three NSF-Funded Scientists Among Recipients of $3 Million Kavli Prize
Among the latest winners of the Kavli Prize are three scientists who have received NSF funding over the past several years
Released  November 28, 2010
Diagram showing gravitational lensing. Gigantic Gravity "Lenses" Magnify Galaxies Far, Far Away
Submillimeter observatories penetrate cold, dusty galaxies to see stars forming in the primeval past
Released  November 19, 2010
Photo of a Blackhawk helicopter lifting off in front of the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope. Observatory Staff Aid in Military Helicopter Crash Rescue
Green Bank Telescope's staff typically spend their days helping scientists carry out their research, but on one dramatic day in February 2010, they helped rescue soldiers from a crashed helicopter
Released  September 10, 2010
Image of the observable surface of a star about 3,000 degrees cooler than our sun. 3-D Images Reveal New Composition of the Sun
Improved 3-D simulations carried out at the NSF-supported Texas Advanced Computing Center are leading scientists to reevaluate the sun's composition and theories about the structure and evolution of stars
Released  August 18, 2010
Image of an interacting galaxy. Coming to a Home Near You: Citizen Science Contributes to Research
Discovery may be in front of your home computer, thanks to "citizen scientist" projects
Released  March 24, 2010
Image from a simulated interplanetary disturbance caused by an solar magnetic eruption (SME) Taking the "Surprise" out of Surprise Solar Storms
Scientists are learning to predict giant solar storms that could, at any time, hit the Earth and produce cascading catastrophes
Released  March 18, 2010
Color-enhanced optical image of the galaxy DDO 87 in the constellation Ursa Major showing stars. Tiny Galaxies Reveal How First Stars Formed
Lowell Observatory astronomer Deidre Hunter and her team studies small, diffuse galaxies to learn about star formation in those regions and, perhaps, shed light on the birth of the first stars after the Big Bang
Released  February 25, 2010
Image shows a composite visible/infrared view of Titan. Titan: A Climate Out of This World
Researchers using ground-based telescopes and space probes make amazing discoveries about the atmospheric cycle of Saturnís largest moon, and find similarities to Earth
Released  January 7, 2010
Composite of two Hubble Space Telescope images of a global dust storm on Mars. Monitoring and Predicting Extraterrestrial Weather
Scientists adapt a weather research and forecasting tool to model global weather on the Earth, Mars and beyond
Released  September 22, 2009
Adaptive optics image of Titan showing storm feature. Methane Clouds Observed Near Titan's Equator May Explain Presence of Riverbeds on the Surface
The Huygens probe discovered fluid-formed channels in the arid equatorial regions of Titan, Saturn's largest moon
Released  August 12, 2009
Photo showing Caroline Moore at work in her home observatory New Supernova Is Discovered by Young Citizen Scientist
Caroline Moore's discovery has made experts question how stars die
Released  July 9, 2009
Eight thumbnail images and 2008 in Review 2008: Year in Review
A look back at some of the NSF-supported advances and activities that made news last year
Released  March 13, 2009
Illustration of a highly-magnetized neutron star undergoing a "starquake." Shockwave of X-ray Starquake Enthralls Scientists
For postdoctoral researcher Andrew Steiner and other astrophysicists, the shockwave that jolted the Earth in late December 2005 was a lucky find, providing new data on neutron stars
Released  March 2, 2009
Artist's conception of the Milky Way. New Galactic Distance Measurements Increase Milky Way's Mass and Rotation Speed
Galaxy is spinning faster and is 50 percent more massive than earlier studies indicated
Released  January 30, 2009
Photo of the  Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope in Green Bank, Pocahontas County, W. Va. Magnetic Fields in Far Away Galaxies Observed to be 10 Times Stronger than those in Milky Way
Conventional theories of star and galaxy formation challenged
Released  November 12, 2008
Photo of Timothy Beers, professor of astronomy and physics at Michigan State University. Archaeology of the Stars
Michigan State researcher Timothy Beers studies the formation and evolution of stars born many billions of years before the Sun
Released  September 17, 2008
A picture of the setting sun off the coast of Estonia and the letter "A." Cracking the Code of Images
New software easily detects pictures' hidden messages
Released  July 15, 2008
Illustration of a supernova explosion. Not a Quirk But a Quark ... a Quark Star!
Super-luminous stellar explosion observed via Caltech's Palomar Observatory, possibly resulting in a quark star
Released  June 26, 2008
Photo of galaxy NGC 2770 showing location of star and lines from John Keats' poem. International Gemini Observatory Captures Birth of a Supernova
Stellar discovery marks a new epoc in astronomical research
Released  May 28, 2008
2007 In Review 2007: Year in Review
A look back at some of the NSF-supported advances and activities reported last year
Released  January 30, 2008
Composite image of supernova remnant W49B showing a barrel-shaped nebula. Search Is on for Hot Young Stars
Long duration gamma-ray bursts allow astronomers to collect more information than ever imagined
Released  September 21, 2007
Photo of TW Hydrae Planetary Construction Zone?
Astronomers detect the beginnings of planet formation in a dusty disk surrounding a nearby star
Released  July 5, 2007
2006 in Review 2006: Year in Review
A look back at some of the NSF-supported activities highlighted last year
Released  January 9, 2007
The Spiral Galaxy M51, with supernova. Teachers Strike Scientific Gold at Kitt Peak
Workshop participants take lucky images of a brand-new supernova
Released  August 26, 2005
Young man stands in front of a row of white telescopes. New Mexico Graduate Student Receives Costa Rica's Top Science Honor
At 26, Esteban Araya is the youngest person to ever receive the top science award from his native Costa Rica. A graduate student in astronomy at New Mexico Tech, Araya was honored for his research into the formation of massive stars.
Released  August 5, 2005
Star Kills Companion! Star Killed by Companion
Bizarre remains bear silent witness
Released  March 2, 2005
Six SDI views of Saturn's moon Titan A New Camera for Extrasolar Planets
It hasn't found planets yet—but in its first year of operation, the instrument has already proved its worth
Released  January 31, 2005

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