Astronomers have found something more interesting at the center of our Milky Way galaxy than just a black hole: a star orbiting that black hole at the record-breaking speed of 3,100 miles per second. It takes less than twelve years to make one full orbit, but its speed isn't its only scientifically interesting aspect.
Why is the expansion of the universe accelerating? We're not quite sure. But like every other problem, we may be able to solve it with more megapixels. 570 megapixels seems like it might be enough, and Fermilab has just fired up its massive Dark Energy Camera to see what it can find.
We've seen some creative DIY projects over time, but this one could be moving to the top of the MacGyver leaderboard. Discovered by a Reddit exchange over some amazing space photos, it turns out the photos weren't taken by some mountaintop observatory, but rather by a regular guy, with a not-so-regular telescope worth $20,000 he built in his back yard.
Supposedly, this new high-energy telescope is not a gigantic death beam cannon thing. Supposedly. What we're supposed to believe instead is that it's a brand new gamma-ray telescope, designed to search the sky for the likes of supermassive black holes, supernovae and pulsars.
Not content to sit back and wait for an asteroid to obliterate all life on Earth, a group of scientists and space vets are launching their own telescope. Sentinel will be the world's first privately funded space telescope, and it will orbit the sun and map out the asteroids lurking around the interior of our solar system.
When Planetary Resources first announced its ambitious plan to start mining asteroids, the company also mentioned that the rest of us might get a little piece of the action with access to a network of space telescopes. Now, Planetary has announced that it might try and do it from the get-go, through Kickstarter.
We all know about the FBI and the CIA, but you might not be as familiar with the National Reconnaissance Office, the agency responsible for our spy satellites. The NRO apparently has more of these things than it knows what to do with, and it's decided to donate two Hubble-sized spy sats to NASA to play with.
The best looks that we've been able to get at exoplanets are when they pass in front of or behind their parent stars. When that happens, sometimes, if we're lucky, we can get a brief hint atmosphere. For the first time, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has managed to observe a "super-Earth" directly, watching it glow in the infrared.
As part of its plan to harvest asteroids, Plantary Resources is going to be launching a [insert collective noun for telescopes here] of space telescopes. Whenever they're not busy finding asteroids made of solid gold, we might be able to use them to snap actual pictures of exoplanets around other stars.
The camera for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope just got its approval for a final design phase this week, which is exiting news for all you space fans out there. When it's finished, the LSST camera will be the largest digital camera ever made, and it'll be able to image the entire visible sky every single week.