Astronomers spot only the 2nd interstellar object ever seen

An amateur astronomer discovers an interstellar comet on its way to our Sun.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
  • The comet C/2019 Q4 (Borisov) was spotted by an amateur astronomer.
  • The object is moving so fast, it likely originated outside our solar system.
  • The comet should be observable for another year.
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Water discovered on exoplanet K2-18b in 'Goldilocks Zone'

Scientists say it might even rain on the exoplanet, dubbed K2-18b.

  • Two new studies, from independent teams of researchers, say that it's extremely likely that the exoplanet's atmosphere contains water vapor.
  • Scientists are able to make these kinds of determinations by pointing telescopes at distant stars and measuring subtle changes in light as exoplanets pass in front of the star.
  • Scientists will likely get a better look at K2-18b when NASA launches the powerful James Webb Space Telescope in 2021.
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This incredible meditation will help solve your existential dread

Existential dread, meet astronomical wonder.

Ken Crawford
  • The universe is huge, and we're not. This fact has given rise to countless existential crises.
  • You don't have to be left in dread after looking at the night sky, however.
  • Astronomer Michelle Thaller has an excellent meditation on why the vastness of space can be revitalizing.
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Physicist advances a radical theory of gravity

Erik Verlinde has been compared to Einstein for completely rethinking the nature of gravity.

Photo by Willeke Duijvekam
  • The Dutch physicist Erik Verlinde's hypothesis describes gravity as an "emergent" force not fundamental.
  • The scientist thinks his ideas describe the universe better than existing models, without resorting to "dark matter".
  • While some question his previous papers, Verlinde is reworking his ideas as a full-fledged theory.
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Do aliens exist? If they did, would we know?

We still don't have proof of intelligent life beyond that on Earth.

  • One of the biggest questions is whether we are alone in the universe — could there be other intelligent life, besides us, out there? Currently, we don't have any evidence aliens exist.
  • There may have been a chance for a civilization to start billions of years before life began on Earth — one that is far more advanced, technologically speaking, than us. However, they're not making it very obvious. We have no proof of this.
  • If such an advanced civilization exists, though, it probably relies on solar energy to fuels its everyday activities.