An international team of astronomers have reached the most definitive conclusion, one with profound implications: our galaxy contains a minimum of 100 billion planets. Of those, most are small planets like ours. Statistically, every star would have at least one planet.
Someone call John Lithgow and pull French Stewart out of storage, a team of astronomers using the Kepler telescope have discovered the smallest of exoplanets, and tiniest solar system, so far. And their existence may show that our solar system isn't all that unique.
Astronomers have found two more new planets orbiting binary stars: Kepler-34b and Kepler-35b. Their discovery, which follows the original Tatooine discovery back in September 2011, is quite important: now we know there are millions of planets orbiting binary stars.
Astronomers have discovered the far, far away galaxies. The farthest galaxy cluster ever seen, in fact, a whooping 13.1 billion light-years away. According to the researchers, "these galaxies formed during the earliest stages of galaxy assembly, when galaxies had just started to cluster together."
The little grey ball is Dione, the third largest of Saturn's moons. The large brown sphere with the ethereal haze is Titan, the largest. In the background, that's Saturn and its rings. Never has an astronomy picture looked so painterly to me.
The Canon 5200mm super telephoto lens may be the world's largest camera lens, but it's no match for lenses the size of an entire galaxy, so massive that they deform the light of objects behind them. They're called gravitational lenses.
In a research paper called "The population of natural Earth satellites", astronomers say that Earth must have a second moon at any given time. They have calculated the population of "irregular natural satellites that are temporarily captured" by Earth.
Rejoice, for comet Lovejoy has survived its close encounter with the Sun! NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory has captured the exact moment it went close in behind the Sun, then out again on the other side, surprisingly more or less intact.
Technically, this is a bipolar star-forming region called Sharpless 2-106. Not technically, NASA says that it "looks like a soaring, celestial snow angel." I think those image people at NASA are hitting that rocket fuel punch a little too heavily, but I like it.
This is Puppis A, the remnants of a violent supernova that exploded 3,700 years ago, glowing red as its shockwaves still heat up the dust around it. But Puppis A is really special because it hides the "Cosmic Cannonball."
This is the fastest spinning star in the universe yet. Rotating at a mindblowing one million miles per hour, it's so fast that its shape is not a sphere anymore. They call it VFTS 102. Boring. I prefer Burger Star.
How close did asteroid 2005 YU55 get to Earth? Not close enough to endanger our civilisation, but close enough to take some fun videos. Like this short film of its trajectory recorded by NASA Swift's satellite.