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Photos: Orange Octopus, More Creatures Found Deep in Antarctic Sea

A bristle-cage worm, a sea lily, and an orange octopus are among species hauled up from Antarctica’s Amundsen Sea for the first time.

Five Surprising New Bat Species Found in Africa

Tiny mammals split off from other species three million years ago, study says.

New Eyeless Fungus Beetle Found in Cave

A new species of eyeless insect adapted to the darkness has been discovered in an Arizona cave, a new study says.

4 Weird Legless Lizard Species Found

Four new species of legless lizard have emerged from a railroad track, vacant city lots, oilfields, and even an airport runway, a new study says.

Will *You* Spot the First Truly Earthlike Planet?

UPDATE: In Wednesday’s press conference, the Kepler team announced the new public data includes readings on several hundred new planetary candidates. The findings increase the number of planet candidates Kepler’s found to 1,235. Of these, 68 are roughly Earth-size, 288 are super Earth-size, 662 are Neptune-size, 165 are Jupiter-size, and 19 are larger than Jupiter.…

New Dark Matter Map Solving Galactic Puzzle?

One of the brilliant things about astrophysics is being able to take pictures of invisible stuff. Infrared telescopes, for example, allow astronomers to see “dark” nebulas (picture), clouds of dust and gas that weakly reflect light from nearby stars, glowing mostly in thermal emissions. Similarly, high-energy x-rays and gamma rays let scientists “see” black holes,…

It’s Raining Planets in Pasadena

Your Breaking Orbit blogger is back from vacation, and I’ll be bringing you highlights direct from the 42nd meeting of the American Astronomical Society’s Division of Planetary Sciences in Pasadena, California. It’s a cold, drizzly day outside the convention center, but inside it’s raining hot new finds about planets, dwarf planets, exoplanets, minor planets, and…

New Pictures of Auroras — on Saturn!

As if having the most impressive rings in the solar system isn’t enough, Saturn also boasts some of the shiniest “footwear”—just check out new shots of the planet’s southern auroras: —Image courtesy NASA/JPL/University of Arizona/University of Leicester This quartet of candy-colored pictures comes from NASA’s Cassini orbiter, which carries a nifty tool that can collect…

Pluto Gets 14 New Neighbors

Beyond Neptune‘s orbit, roughly five billion miles from the sun, the solar system can seem like a dark, desolate place. But like the murky depths of the ocean, the darkness hides millions of mysterious bodies—or at least, so we think. Known collectively as trans-Neptunian objects, or TNOs, the first of this population to be discovered…

Newfound Alien Star System Boasts 5, Maybe 7, Planets

About 127 light-years away there’s a star like our sun that hosts at least five planets, each roughly the same mass as Uranus or Neptune, astronomers announced today. A closeup of the sky around HD 10180 —Image courtesy ESO and Digitized Sky Survey 2. Acknowledgment: Davide De Martin The planets were found via what’s called…

Saturn Moons Have Class

Late last week scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena announced the discovery of a new class of moons orbiting Saturn: the giant propeller moons. Tracked over a four-year period by the Saturn-orbiting Cassini spacecraft, the moons create distinctive propeller shapes as they travel through the planet’s A ring, the outermost of the large,…

Hubble Space Telescope’s New Classic

This past Saturday, April 24, marked 20 years since the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope aboard the space shuttle Discovery. Hubble was released into orbit the following day, but it wasn’t until May that astronomers got a look at the first pictures from their shiny new observatory. The scientists—and eager members of the public…

We Just Can’t Get Enough Sun

After hunkering down to survive D.C.’s “snowpocalypse” this past week, I was definitely ready for some sun. —Image courtesy United Launch Alliance/Pat Corkery via NASA Luckily, NASA obliged me with Thursday’s launch of their latest space probe, the Solar Dynamics Observatory. The SDO is a semi-autonomous craft that will orbit Earth, taking continuous observations of…

Solve a Space Mystery … From Your Hot Tub?

Ever since the first eager beaver loaded SETI@Home onto their computer, it seems that citizen astronomy projects have been all the digitized rage. Of course, backyard astronomers have a long history of contributing to science, but the Internet age really seems to have opened up the possibilities. A few cases in point: Galaxy Zoo Dawn…

Johannes Kepler: One of Newton’s Giants?

First, allow me to extend a warm welcome to the 3,500+ astronomers, astronomy buffs, writers, friends, and family now in Washington, D.C., for the 215th meeting of the American Astronomical Society. Welcome to my home town, and thanks for bringing the meeting to me for a change! —Image courtesy NASA Day One of the conference…