Heaviest pair of supermassive black holes ever measured will someday collide, astronomers report

Black holes are some of the most powerful, destructive and massive objects in the known universe, devouring stars at unimaginable speeds and ripping them apart with such ferocity that they discharge luminous flares visible from millions of lightyears away. When black holes collide into each other, they produce gravitational waves, as scientists learned in 2015 after recording a pair of stellar-mass black holes colliding for the first time....

Originally posted on salon.com

Puzzling new planet is too big for its sun, challenging dominant theories of planet formation

It’s difficult to fathom how much bigger the Sun is than our little planet. Even though it’s just an average-sized star, you could squeeze 1.3 million Earths inside it. But planets in other solar systems don’t always have such a massive size difference, as detailed in an intriguing new report in the journal Science, which describes the discovery of a planet named LHS 3154b....

Originally posted on salon.com

Three-body solution: These massive blue stars may not be duos, but threesomes instead

Be stars are weird. They are rapidly rotating stars about 4 to 18 times larger than the sun, but a pleasing blue color surrounded by discs of gas, not unlike the rings of Saturn. They spin so fast that they approach “critical velocity” or the point where they would otherwise blast apart due to centrifugal force overpowering the star’s gravity....

Originally posted on salon.com

Two giant planets collided and astronomers caught the explosion 1,800 light years away

It’s a bit mind-boggling to imagine something as big as the planet Neptune crashing into a similar-sized planet, but astronomers caught this exact scenario, as described in a recent study in the journal Nature. A pair of ice giants — or massive planets the size of Uranus and Neptune, but composed of elements that are heavier than hydrogen and helium — collided into each other as they passed in front of the star they orbit, ASASSN-21qj....

Originally posted on salon.com

New James Webb data offers potential explanation for “impossible” galaxies at cosmic dawn

Astronomers who were perplexed by the James Webb Space Telescope’s (JWST) images of the universe’s earliest galaxies can breathe a little more easily: Scientists have just explained away certain features of those galaxies that had previously been regarded as impossible.

The confusion began last year after the JWST discovered the universe’s earliest galaxies seemed to be too massive to have formed immediately after the Big Bang....

Originally posted on salon.com