Phil Plait, Scientific American

Phil Plait

Scientific American

Boulder, CO, United States

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Past articles by Philip:

A Recently Discovered Gas Cloud Near Andromeda Stumps Astronomers

Clues to the origin of this enormous cloud of gas have been maddeningly vague → Read More

Volcanic Activity on Mars Upends Red Planet Assumptions

A mass of moving material on Mars called a mantle plume may be causing marsquakes and volcanism → Read More

All Good Things…

Phil Plait’s last Bad Astronomy article for SYFY Wire. → Read More

The rich get richer: High-mass stars steal planets from smaller stars

Anti-Robin-Hood stars: High-mass stars can steal planets from lower-mass ones. → Read More

Mea culpa: Planet definitions and Earth clearing its orbit

If Earth were moved out to the orbit of Neptune, would it still be considered a planet? Turns out, yup. → Read More

JWST’s Neptune: The best infrared view in 30 years

Neptune, the last known major planet in the solar system gets its close-up from JWST, and the infrared view is spectacular. → Read More

Happy September equinox!

Today is the September equinox! Tonight — depending on where you are on the planet; it might be morning or some part of the day — at 01:23 UTC (9:03 p.m. Eastern U.S. time) the center of the Sun will be directly over the Celestial Equator, passing from the northern hemisphere of the sky to the southern. We call that moment the equinox. → Read More

Keck and JWST team up to watch as massive stars blast away gas in the Orion Nebula

Incredible new images from JWST and Keck show massive stars in the Orion Nebula eating itself from the inside out. → Read More

What reionized the Universe, and when?

A billion years after the Big Bang, the Universe became transparent, and stayed that way. Why? And, exactly, when? → Read More

The future history of the Sun

T/FB: How will the Sun change in the future? Looking at thousands of other Sun-like stars, astronomers have charted its course. → Read More

Another black hole first: Astronomers capture a ring of light as photons orbit M87A*

In 2019, astronomers revealed the first ever close-up image of material swirling around a black hole. It was a staggering achievement, combining the power of many radio telescopes across Earth to make a virtual one — called the Event Horizon Telescope — the size of our planet. → Read More

Why doesn’t Jupiter have even more spectacular rings than Saturn?

Just recently on the blog I posted a series of images of Jupiter taken by JWST, some of which showed Jupiter’s faint ring. → Read More

Wanna live on the Moon? Pack a sweater and a spacesuit and move to a lava tube.

If and when humans establish a permanent base on the Moon, it’ll be the pits. Collapse pits, I should add. These are holes in the lunar surface where the roofs of cave-like lava tube have collapsed, allowing relatively easy access to underground “rooms” which can provide a pre-fab haven for astronauts working and living on the Moon. → Read More

Did JWST find the most distant galaxy ever seen? Maaaaaybe.

Looking through a batch of early-release images from JWST, astronomers have found a handful of galaxies that may be among the most distant ever seen, including one, called GLASS-z13, that may be THE most distant galaxy ever seen. If true, the light we see left the galaxy just 300 – 400 million years after the Big Bang itself! → Read More

The Tarantula shreds its enormous cocoon

If it’s an arachnid, it’s one that’s 20 quadrillion kilometers across. → Read More

A comet got really close to the Sun and completely freaked out

Recent observations of comet 323P/SOHO show it's losing house-sized chunks. → Read More

What creates the aurora on Mars?

Like Earth, Mars has an aurora. Unlike Earth, the ones on Mars are pretty weird. Now we know why. → Read More

Out-of-this-world video: Mars helicopter Ingenuity takes a record-breaking 25th flight

While the Earth turns and human events spin on, things are afoot — or ablade — on Mars as well. The Mars helicopter Ingenuity, taken to the Red Planet as part of the rover Perseverance mission, recently performed its 25th flight over the Martian surface, breaking several of its own records as it did. → Read More

Are supermassive black holes killing their host galaxies?

A new study using archived astronomical observations across the electromagnetic spectrum has come to a rather startling and somewhat unsettling conclusion: Supermassive black holes in the centers of many galaxies may have suppressed star formation early on after those galaxies formed, effectively killing them. → Read More

Scattered X-rays from space: Turning noise into signal

A closer look at the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, a space telescopes designed to see high-energy X-rays from astronomical sources. → Read More