Nasa shortlists four astrophysics missions for 2025 launch

The Andromeda galaxy, the nearest spiral galaxy to the Milky Way.

NASA has shortlisted four proposals for its next astrophysics missions, due for launch in 2025. The agency has funding to fly two of them, and the four will now each receive funds for a nine-month period of technical study. The two missions will be chosen next year.

Biggest cosmic explosion ever detected left huge dent in space

Galaxy clusters are among the largest structures in the universe, containing thousands of individual galaxies, dark matter and hot gas. At the heart of the Ophiuchus cluster there is a large galaxy that contains a supermassive black hole with a mass equivalent to 10 millions suns.

Solar Orbiter spacecraft will capture the sun's north and south poles

The Solar Orbiter spacecraft, a joint Nasa and European Space Agency (ESA) mission, is set to be launched from Cape Canaveral just after 4am UK time on Monday morning, and will reach its vantage point above the planetary plane by the end of 2021.

Telescope captures most detailed pictures yet of the sun

First observations from Inouye telescope bring previously hazy star into sharp focus.
The striking images reveal a surprising level of structure hidden within the churning plasma exterior, bringing a previously hazy impression of the sun’s patchwork surface sharply into focus for the first time.

'Giant, shape-shifting stars' spotted near Milky Way's black hole

The Milky Way

Objects raise hopes of scientists managing to track ‘blobs’ being swallowed by black hole
A number of bizarre shape-shifting objects have been discovered close to the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way.
The blobs are thought to be giant stars that spend part of their orbits so close to the black hole that they get stretched out like bubble gum before returning to a compact, roughly spherical form.

Cosmic cats and nuclear blasts: the strange history of interstellar messages

From Sagan to Tesla, scientists have long puzzled over how to talk to extraterrestrial intelligence.
For the past 200 years, the problem of interstellar communication with an extraterrestrial intelligence has vexed some of the world’s greatest scientists and mathematicians. Carl Friedrich Gauss, the mathematician and inventor of the heliotrope, suggested using a large array of mirrors; Guglielmo Marconi and Nikola Tesla, pioneers of wireless communication, found a solution in radio waves; and John McCarthy and Marvin Minsky, the progenitors of artificial intelligence, wanted to send computers into space as our extraterrestrial envoys.

Black hole at centre of galaxy is getting hungrier, say scientists

Scientists say Milky Way’s Sagittarius A* has been more active in recent months. Unseeable and inescapable, black holes already rank among the more sinister phenomena out in the cosmos. So it may come as disconcerting news that the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way appears to be growing hungrier.