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Ian O'Neill, Ph.D.

Contributing Writer

Ian writes about space and especially enjoys writing about astrophysics, Mars exploration, black holes and our brave space robots that allow humanity to push beyond the final frontier. He's a British guy living in Los Angeles with a Ph.D. in solar physics and a master's degree in astrophysics. He digs tea and craft beer, and has an obsession for science fiction and computer games. He's forever optimistic that, despite the chaos and uncertainty of our daily lives, we are only at the beginning of the human story from a cosmic perspective. Space exploration is an adventure; it's his job to chronicle our journey. You can also follow his writing and videos on Astroengine.com.

Recent Contributions

Is Planet Nine Actually a Primordial Black Hole?

As the search for Planet Nine wears on, and astronomers have yet to get so much as a glimpse of it, researchers are pondering what else the object might be.

Confirmed: Comet Borisov Is Another Interstellar Visitor

The galaxy has sent another tumbling chunk of frozen interstellar material our way.

It's Only a Rolling Rock on Mars (But I Like It)

NASA just named a rolling rock on Mars after — who else — the Rolling Stones.

LISA: Detecting Exoplanets Using Gravitational Waves

The planned Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, or LISA, will be able to detect the gravitational waves generated by massive collisions in the deep cosmos.

Rare Asteroid Discovered With Fastest Orbit Around the Sun

Researchers at the Zwicky Transient Facility have found an asteroid in Earth's orbit. And this one has the shortest year yet.

Two for Teegarden: Pint-sized Star System Discovered Right Next Door

And one of the exoplanets in the Teegarden star system could have a temperature range between 32 and 122 degrees Fahrenheit.

Want to Find Past Life on Mars? Dive Deep Into Earth First

The mysterious microbes living more than half a mile beneath the deepest ocean floors could have something to teach us about Martian life.

Where Does Water Come From?

Water surrounds us, falling from the sky and pouring from faucets, and yet many of us never ask where it comes from. The answer stretches way back — before tides and thunderclouds to the big bang.

White Dwarfs Can Shred Planets to Pieces

So what does that mean for good ol' Earth someday?

NASA's InSight Mission Detects Its First Marsquake

The wait is over. NASA confirms Mars is seismically active.

The First Image of a Black Hole Is Here

It may be supermassive, but snagging this one-of-a-kind pic was no easy feat.

Hunting for Martians in the Most Extreme Desert on Earth

Rovers are getting some practice hunting for microbes here on Earth before they head to Mars in 2020.

Our Milky Way Is Warped Like an Old Vinyl Record

It's tricky to see the true shape of the Milky Way when you're stuck inside it. So how did scientists figure it out?

Where Did THAT Come From? Hubble Discovers Galactic Neighbor Bedin 1

On a galactic scale, that's kind of like finding a tree in your backyard that you'd never seen before.

Sun's Twisted Magnetism Can Create Wonky Auroras

Auroras are one of the best parts about living on a planet with a global magnetic field. And they still puzzle space weather experts.

Saturn's Rings Will Exist for Just a Blip in Time

No worries though. Jupiter, Neptune or Uranus could create their own beautiful, bright ring display in the distant future.

Barnard's Star B May Host Primitive Life, Kind of Like Europa

Things just got more interesting on this enigmatic exoplanet.

After the Sun Dies, It'll Become a Stellar Crystal

Those stars twinkling in the nighttime sky may actually be crystal spheres. And our beloved star is headed in that direction, too. Eventually.

Orion Nebula Is Scene of Epic Star Battle

In this stellar nursery, firstborn stars are ruthless.

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