It's been more than 40 years since astronauts returned the last Apollo samples from the moon, and since then those samples have undergone some of the most extensive and comprehensive analysis of any geological collection. Researchers have now refined the timeline of meteorite impacts on the moon through a pioneering application of laser microprobe technology to Apollo 17 samples.
The Planck collaboration has today released data from four years of observation by the European Space Agency's Planck spacecraft. The aim of the Planck mission is to study the Cosmic Microwave Background, the light left over from the Big Bang.
Can astronauts who spend time in space pass an epigenetic memory of microgravity to their future children? Researchers are hoping experiments with C. elegans can address how human biology reacts when exposed to changes in gravity.
The Universe is pervaded by a mysterious form of matter, dubbed dark matter, about five times more abundant than the ordinary matter we are familiar with. Its existence in galaxies was robustly established in the 1970s. Scientists now obtained for the first time a direct observational proof of the presence of dark matter in the innermost part our Galaxy, the Milky Way.
In March last year the BICEP2 team claimed to have observed, for the first time, the effects of gravitational waves in cosmic background radiation. In September Planck demonstrated that the signal observed might be the result of 'contaminants' due to the polarized radiation produced by our Galaxy. A new paper confirms the Planck observation: even following a more accurate analysis (and the adoption of new instruments) there is still evidence of contaminants.
Galaxies can die early because the gas they need to make new stars is suddenly ejected, research published today suggests. Most galaxies age slowly as they run out of raw materials needed for growth over billions of years. But a pilot study looking at galaxies that die young has found some might shoot out this gas early on, causing them to redden and kick the bucket prematurely.
Cassiopeia A, or Cas A for short, is one of the most well studied supernova remnants in our galaxy. But it still holds major surprises. Astronomers have generated a new 3-D map of its interior using the astronomical equivalent of a CAT scan. They found that the Cas A supernova remnant is composed of a collection of about a half dozen massive cavities - or 'bubbles'.
Two phenomena known to inhibit the potential habitability of planets - tidal forces and vigorous stellar activity - might instead help chances for life on certain planets orbiting low-mass stars, astronomers have found.