The famous sunspots on the surface of the Earth's star result from the dynamics of strong magnetic fields, and their numbers are an important indicator of the state of activity on the Sun. Researchers have been conducting multifractal analysis into the changes in the numbers of sunspots. The resulting graphs were surprisingly asymmetrical in shape, suggesting that sunspots may be involved in hitherto unknown physical processes.
A team of astronomers using ground-based telescopes in Hawaii, California, and Arizona recently discovered a planetary system orbiting a nearby star that is only 54 light-years away. All three planets orbit their star at a distance closer than Mercury orbits the sun, completing their orbits in just 5, 15, and 24 days.
It was unprecedented developing a mission that could fly four identically equipped spacecraft in a tight formation and take measurements 100 times faster than any previous space mission - an achievement enabled in part by four NASA-developed technologies that in some cases took nearly 10 years to mature.
How soon after the Big Bang could water have existed? Not right away, because water molecules contain oxygen and oxygen had to be formed in the first stars. Then that oxygen had to disperse and unite with hydrogen in significant amounts. New theoretical work finds that despite these complications, water vapor could have been just as abundant in pockets of space a billion years after the Big Bang as it is today.
We know of about two dozen runaway stars, and have even found one runaway star cluster escaping its galaxy forever. Now, astronomers have spotted 11 runaway galaxies that have been flung out of their homes to wander the void of intergalactic space.
Comets eject gas and dust into space. Primarily, this takes place on the areas of the comet's surface exposed to direct sunlight. In mid-March, from a distance of 75 kilometres, the Optical, Spectroscopic, and Infrared Remote Imaging System (OSIRIS) on board the Rosetta orbiter acquired images of an extraordinary phenomenon occurring on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. A new dust jet - its origins currently unknown - was suddenly released from the shadowed side.