Among the billions and billions of stars in the sky, where should astronomers look for infant Earths where life might develop? New research shows where - and when - infant Earths are most likely to be found.
Philae landed on a comet just three weeks ago; now, another German Aerospace Center lander mission has been launched - the Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT) is already on its way to Asteroid 1999 JU3.
The intermittent light emitted by pulsars, the most precise timekeepers in the universe, allows scientists to verify Einstein's theory of relativity, especially when these objects are paired up with another neutron star or white dwarf that interferes with their gravity. However, this theory could be analysed much more effectively if a pulsar with a black hole were found, except in two particular cases, according to researchers.
Planets orbiting close to low-mass stars are prime targets in the search for extraterrestrial life. But new research indicates some such planets may have long since lost their chance at hosting life because of intense heat during their formative years.
Analysis of data from the MATROSHKA experiment, the first comprehensive measurements of long-term exposure of astronauts to cosmic radiation, has now been completed. This experiment, carried out on board and outside of the International Space Station, showed that the cosmos may be less hostile to space travelers than expected.
Did Mars ever have life? Does it still? A meteorite from Mars has reignited the old debate. An international team has published a paper, showing that martian life is more probable than previously thought.
Recently, the infrared Herschel Space Observatory, has taken a series of beautiful high-resolution infrared images of Andromeda. It is the first time we can see M31, at these wavelengths, at such a high resolution.
Astronomers have measured the passing of a super-Earth in front of a bright, nearby Sun-like star using a ground-based telescope for the first time. The transit of the exoplanet 55 Cancri e is the shallowest detected from the ground yet. Since detecting a transit is the first step in analyzing a planet's atmosphere, this success bodes well for characterizing the many small planets that upcoming space missions are expected to discover in the next few years.
Two donuts of seething radiation that surround Earth, called the Van Allen radiation belts, have been found to contain a nearly impenetrable barrier that prevents the fastest, most energetic electrons from reaching Earth.
The criteria for life on other planets is the focus of the 4th Australian Exoplanet Workshop, hosted by the University of Southern Queensland this week. The first in this series on exoplanets looks at the story so far in the search for life elsewhere in the universe.