During winter it can sometimes feel that the whole day passes in the blink of an eye and that evening darkness comes far too quickly. While more daylight would be a lovely thing, the early darkness has one big advantage: the stars. On a clear evening you can look up and see far into space. I’ve spent many winter evenings with my children, on our way home from activities, looking for Orion (and other constellations), following its path through the seasons.

Stars and space are two of the most popular science topics, whatever the age of the child.

Astrophysicists have obtained precise measurements for an object orbiting a black hole five billion light years away - and the innermost region of a disc of matter in orbital motion around a supermassive black hole tucked inside the quasar known as Einstein’s Cross (Q2237-0305).

This constitutes the most precise set of measurements achieved to date for such a small and distant object, and was made possible thanks to years of monitoring as part of the OGLE and GLITP gravitational microlensing projects, which have had their lenses trained on this quasar for 12 and 9 years, respectively. Typically, astronomers can only detect bright objects that emit a lot of light or large objects that block background light.
Thick donut-shaped disks of gas and dust that surround most massive black holes in the universe are 'clumpy' rather than smooth as originally thought, according to a new study.

Until recently, telescopes weren't able to penetrate some of these donuts, also known as tori, which feed and nourish the growing black holes tucked inside.

By Marsha Lewis, Inside Science TV. The moon — it can appear full, shining like a beacon in the night or just a sliver of a nightlight. Still, it’s always there.

Image Credit:

But what if we didn't have a moon?

Here’s the top five things we would miss without it.

1.       Nights would be much, much darker. The next brightest object in the night sky is Venus – but it still wouldn’t be enough to light up the sky – a full moon is nearly two thousand times brighter than Venus is at its brightest.

Astronomers discovered a nest of monstrous baby galaxies 11.5 billion light-years away and they speculate that the galaxies seem to reside at the junction of gigantic filaments in a web of dark matter. 

Since dark matter is the umbrella term for matter that inference says must exist but which has never been detected, how can they know the galaxies are surrounded by it? Read on. Thugh things are relatively quiet now, ten billion years ago, long before the Sun and Earth were formed, areas of the Universe were inhabited by monstrous galaxies with star formation rates hundreds or thousands of times what we observe today in our Milky Way galaxy.

Fast Radio Bursts - bursts of energy from space that appear as a short flashes of radio waves to telescopes on Earth - have baffled astronomers since first detected a decade ago.

Though only 16 have been recorded, there could be thousands of of these mysterious events each day.

Discussions of the ethics of terraforming often touch on  rights of planets or extraterrestrial lifeforms, or near term utilitarian values. But what about our responsibilities to terraformed worlds, and their long term future? I suggest that we are nowhere near mature enough as a civilization to be responsible parents to a newly terraformed world with a gestation period of millennia and an "adult life" of hundreds of millions of years.

Our Sun is a relatively quiet star that only occasionally releases solar flares or blasts of energetic particles that threaten satellites and power grids. You might think that smaller, cooler stars would be even more sedate. However, astronomers have now identified a tiny star with a monstrous temper. It shows evidence of much stronger flares than anything our Sun produces. If similar stars prove to be just as stormy, then potentially habitable planets orbiting them are likely to be much less hospitable than previously thought.

Dark matter is "dark" because no one knows what it is and a blanket term for whatever outnumbers particles of regular matter by more than a factor of 10 is necessary.

Because it can't be detected, dark matter is inferred by gravitational influence in galaxies, and by measuring the mass of a nearby dwarf galaxy called Triangulum II, Assistant Professor of Astronomy Evan Kirby says they may have found the highest concentration of dark matter in any known galaxy. 

Research provides first ever weather map of a planet outside our solar system and it finds wind hurtling at speeds 20x faster than ever recorded on Earth - and seven times the speed of sound.

The researchers measured the velocities on the two sides of HD 189733b and found a strong wing moving at over 5400mph blowing from its dayside to its night side. The velocity was measured using high resolution spectroscopy of the Sodium absorption featured in its atmosphere. As parts of HD 189733b's atmosphere move towards or away from the Earth the Doppler effect changes the wavelength of this feature, which allows the velocity to be measured.