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Sedimentary, my dear Johnson: Is NASA looking at the wrong rocks...

Mars robotic rover illustration. Credit: © elenaed / Adobe Stock In 2020, NASA and European-Russian missions will look for evidence of past life on Mars. But while volcanic, igneous rock predominates on the Red Planet, virtually the entire Earth fossil record comes from sedimentary rocks. Addressing the problem in Frontiers in Earth Science, Swedish scientists…

Galaxy blazes with new stars born from close encounter

New image of irregular galaxy NGC 4485 captured by Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) and Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS). Credit: NASA and ESA; Acknowledgment: T. Roberts (Durham University, UK), D. Calzetti (University of Massachusetts) and the LEGUS Team, R. Tully (University of Hawaii), and R. Chandar (University of Toledo) The irregular galaxy NGC…

Small, hardy planets most likely to survive death of their stars

White dwarf illustration. Credit: © Dreamframer / Adobe Stock Small, hardy planets packed with dense elements have the best chance of avoiding being crushed and swallowed up when their host star dies, new research from the University of Warwick has found. Astrophysicists from the Astronomy and Astrophysics Group have modelled the chances of different planets…

Shrinking moon may be generating moonquakes

The Moon. Credit: © Jackson Pearson / Adobe Stock The Moon is shrinking as its interior cools, getting more than about 150 feet (50 meters) skinnier over the last several hundred million years. Just as a grape wrinkles as it shrinks down to a raisin, the Moon gets wrinkles as it shrinks. Unlike the flexible…

Matter around a young star helps astronomers explore our stellar history

Orion Nebula. Credit: © peresanz / Adobe Stock Astronomers map the substance aluminum monoxide (AlO) in a cloud around a distant young star -- Origin Source I. The finding clarifies some important details about how our solar system, and ultimately we, came to be. The cloud's limited distribution suggests AlO gas rapidly condenses to solid…

Star formation burst in the Milky Way 2-3 billion years ago

Milky Way galaxy. Credit: © mandritoiu / Adobe Stock A team led by researchers of the Institute of Cosmos Sciences of the University of Barcelona (ICCUB, UB-IEEC) and the Besançon Astronomical Observatory have found, analysing data from the Gaia satellite, that a severe star formation burst occurred in the Milky Way about 2 to 3…

Gravitational forces in protoplanetary disks may push super-Earths close to their...

Protoplanetary disc formation. Credit: © Mopic / Adobe Stock The galaxy is littered with planetary systems vastly different from ours. In the solar system, the planet closest to the Sun -- Mercury, with an orbit of 88 days -- is also the smallest. But NASA's Kepler spacecraft has discovered thousands of systems full of very…

A new filter to better map the dark universe

Stars in the night sky. Credit: © Sarote / Adobe Stock The earliest known light in our universe, known as the cosmic microwave background, was emitted about 380,000 years after the Big Bang. The patterning of this relic light holds many important clues to the development and distribution of large-scale structures such as galaxies and…

Explosions of universe’s first stars spewed powerful jets

Supernova concept. Credit: © Korn V. / Adobe Stock Several hundred million years after the Big Bang, the very first stars flared into the universe as massively bright accumulations of hydrogen and helium gas. Within the cores of these first stars, extreme, thermonuclear reactions forged the first heavier elements, including carbon, iron, and zinc. These…

New clues about how ancient galaxies lit up the Universe

Spiral galaxy (stock illustration). Credit: © Alexandr Mitiuc / Adobe Stock NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed that some of the Universe's earliest galaxies were brighter than expected. The excess light is a by-product of the galaxies releasing incredibly high amounts of ionising radiation. The finding offers clues to the cause of the Epoch of…

Blue supergiant stars open doors to concert in space

A snapshot from a hydrodynamical simulation of the interior of a star three times as heavy as our Sun, which shows waves generated by turbulent core convection and propagating throughout the star's interior. Darker and lighter colors represent fluctuations due to waves. Credit: © Tamara Rogers (Newcastle University) Blue supergiants are rock-and-roll: they live fast…

Telescopes in space for even sharper images of black holes

In space, the EHI has a resolution more than five times that of the EHT on Earth, and images can be reconstructed with higher fidelity. Top left: Model of Sagittarius A* at an observation frequency of 230 GHz. Top left: Simulation of an image of this model with the EHT. Bottom left: Model of Sagittarius…

Telescopes in space for even sharper images of black holes

In space, the EHI has a resolution more than five times that of the EHT on Earth, and images can be reconstructed with higher fidelity. Top left: Model of Sagittarius A* at an observation frequency of 230 GHz. Top left: Simulation of an image of this model with the EHT. Bottom left: Model of Sagittarius…

What a dying star’s ashes tell us about the birth of...

Billions of years ago, before our solar system was born, a dead star known as a white dwarf in a nearby binary star system accumulated enough material from its companion to cause it to 'go nova.' The stellar explosion forged dust grains with exotic compositions not found in our solar system. A team of researchers…

Ice feature on Saturn’s giant moon, TItan

This figure shows 3 orientations of Titan's globe. Mapped in blue is the icy corridor. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute Rain, seas and a surface of eroding organic material can be found both on Earth and on Saturn's largest moon, Titan. However, on Titan it is methane, not water, that fills the lakes with slushy raindrops.…

Astronomers discover 2,000-year-old remnant of a nova

Near the centre of the globular cluster Messier 22, the team of scientists discovered the remains of a nova. Credit: ESA/Hubble and NASA, F Göttgens (IAG) For the first time, a European research team involving the University of Göttingen has discovered the remains of a nova in a galactic globular cluster. A nova is an…

Hubble spots a stunning spiral galaxy

NGC 2903 is located about 30 million light-years away in the constellation of Leo (the Lion), and was studied as part of a Hubble survey of the central regions of roughly 145 nearby disk galaxies. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, L. Ho et al. Few of the universe's residents are as iconic as the spiral galaxy.…

Two neutron stars collided near the solar system billions of years...

If a comparable event happened today at a similar distance from the solar system, the ensuing radiation would outshine the entire night sky. Credit: Szabolcs Marka Astrophysicists Szabolcs Marka at Columbia University and Imre Bartos at the University of Florida, have identified a violent collision of two neutron stars 4.6 billion years ago as the…

Water found in samples from asteroid Itokawa

The samples studied by Jin and Bose came from the feature called the Muses Sea, which is the smooth area in the middle of Itokawa. Credit: Photo by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Two cosmochemists at Arizona State University have made the first-ever measurements of water contained in samples from the surface of an asteroid.…

Hubble astronomers assemble wide view of the evolving universe

This graphic compares the dimensions of the Hubble Legacy Field on the sky with the angular size of the Moon. The Hubble Legacy Field is one of the widest views ever taken of the universe with Hubble. The new portrait, a mosaic of nearly 7,500 exposures, covers almost the width of the full Moon. The…

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