Two Different Satellites Take Two Different Pictures of the Same Galaxy

What a difference a wavelength makes: On the left is the M82 Galaxy as seen in the visible light spectrum, captured by the Hubble Space Telescope — and the image we most associate with that galaxy. On the right is an x-ray image of the same galaxy, taken by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. » 12/19/14 3:13am Today 3:13am

SpaceX Barge-Landing Attempt Delayed Until January

The SpaceX cargo run to the International Space Station and associated attempt at soft-landing the Falcon 9 rocket on a floating barge is delayed until January 6, 2015. The delay will allow for investigating a problematic static fire test, but will push back the flight until after the holidays. » 12/18/14 6:45pm Yesterday 6:45pm

What Happens When You Step On Molten Lava? This Video May Surprise You

Definitely don't try this at home (or if you happen across a volcanic vent), but if you've ever wondered what would happen if you pressed down on hot lava, this video is a must-watch. It's a great lesson in how the reality of lava differs from the way many people think of the substance. » 12/18/14 6:39pm Yesterday 6:39pm

This Dying Star Is The Center Of The Coldest Place In The Universe

Until NASA's Cold Lab comes online in 2016, the coldest place in the universe is a faint scattering of gas and dust 5,000 light years away in the Centaurus constellation. The Boomerang Nebula is just 1 degree above absolute zero, colder than the natural background temperature of space. » 12/18/14 1:30pm Yesterday 1:30pm

A Planet In The Dreaded "Rotisserie" Alignment Could Still Support Life

One of the criteria for the habitability of exoplanets is their obliquity—the angle of the axis relative to the orbit around a star. Current thinking holds that the more extreme the tilt, the less likely the possibility of life. But MIT researchers suggest one notable exception: a world completely covered by water. » 12/18/14 3:03pm Yesterday 3:03pm

What Are These Strange, Beautiful Clouds Over Tunisia?

A gorgeous picture of a sunset painting brilliant colors over dramatic spirals in a wavy deck of clouds is making the rounds on social media this afternoon. The picture—purportedly taken in Tunisia—is so spectacular that it almost looks photoshopped. Here's an explanation for how these incredible clouds formed. » 12/17/14 7:12pm Wednesday 7:12pm

Some Exoplanets May Be Too Stiff To Support Life

A solar system's habitable zone is the region of space that is warm enough to allow water to exist in a liquid state on a planet. But new geological research suggests that, even if an exoplanet has water, it is doomed to be a dying world unless its rocky mantle is soft enough to allow the flow of heat. » 12/17/14 1:56pm Wednesday 1:56pm

What Would Happen If All The Earth's Microbes Suddenly Disappeared?

It's generally agreed that life on this planet would not be possible if it weren't for microbes. In a fascinating thought experiment, a pair of biologists scrutinized this assumption to find out. As their paper makes clear, a microbe-free world would be a strange place, indeed. » 12/17/14 1:56pm Wednesday 1:56pm

SpaceX Will Try Landing On Barge After Friday's Cargo Flight

Friday's SpaceX cargo run to the International Space Station will make the astronauts happy, but the really exciting part comes after the Dragon is set free. The Falcon 9 rocket will attempt a soft touchdown landing on a barge for the first time, a massive step towards reusable rocketry. » 12/17/14 9:00am Wednesday 9:00am

Microbes Have Been Discovered 1.5 Miles Beneath The Seabed Off Japan

The floor itself is more than 3,000 feet (1,000 meters) beneath the waves. The extremophiles, the deepest ever discovered by a drilling expedition, likely subsist on a low-calorie diet of hydrocarbons and have a low metabolism. The discovery has implications in the search for alien life. » 12/16/14 9:19pm Tuesday 9:19pm

A Methane Spike Indicates Active Processes On Mars

The more we learn about Mars, the more we learn it's a deceptively active planet. Most recently, the Curiosity rover sniffed out a sharp spike in methane levels that dropped back down just as quickly, suggesting some yet-to-be-determined process is currently happening to trigger the aberration. » 12/16/14 5:00pm Tuesday 5:00pm