New images from the Smithsonian's Submillimeter Array (SMA) telescope provide the most detailed view yet of stellar nurseries within the Snake nebula. These images offer new insights into how cosmic seeds can grow into massive stars.
A team of scientists have looked at how these worlds form and suggest that many of them may be a lot less clement than was though. They find that planets that form from less massive cores can become benign habitats for life, whereas the larger objects instead end up as 'mini-Neptunes' with thick atmospheres and probably stay sterile.
A physicist at Heidelberg University has developed a theoretical model that complements the nearly 100-year-old conventional model of cosmic expansion. According tohis theory, the Big Bang did not occur 13.8 billion years ago - instead, the birth of the universe stretches into the infinite past.
This is the first time that astronomers have reported a clear detection of a relatively rare nitrogen isotope in a single comet and also measured the relative abundance of two different forms of nitrogen of cometary ammonia.
A meteorite with the mass of a small car crashed into the Moon last September, according to Spanish astronomers. The impact, the biggest seen to date, produced a bright flash and would have been easy to spot from the Earth.
The Andromeda Galaxy is surrounded by a swarm of small satellite galaxies. Researchers from the Niels Bohr Institute, among others, have detected a stream of stars in one of the Andromeda Galaxy's outer satellite galaxies, a dwarf galaxy called Andromeda II. The movement of the stars tells us that what we are observing is the remnant of a merger between two dwarf galaxies. Mergers between galaxies of such low mass has not been observed before.
Researchers recently discovered that a common space weather phenomenon on the outskirts of Earth's magnetic bubble, the magnetosphere, has much larger repercussions for Venus. The giant explosions, called hot flow anomalies, can be so large at Venus that they're bigger than the entire planet and they can happen multiple times a day.
Researchers have studied the behaviour of the Sun's coronal mass ejections, explaining for the first time the details of how these huge eruptions behave as they fall back onto the Sun's surface. In the process, they have discovered that coronal mass ejections have a surprising twin in the depths of space: the tendrils of gas in the Crab Nebula, which lie 6500 light-years away and are millions of times larger.
The exploration of planets around stars other than the Sun, known as extrasolar planets or 'exoplanets', is one of the most exciting topics of 21st century science. One of the key goals of this research is to discover and learn the properties of Earth-like worlds in the Sun's neighbourhood. ESA, the European Space Agency, will do this in preparing a new space mission named PLATO.
Astronomers have peered for the first time into the heart of an exploding star in the final minutes of its existence. The feat by the high-energy X-ray satellite NuSTAR provides details of the physics of the core explosion inaccessible until now, says team member Steven Boggs of UC Berkeley. NuSTAR mapped radioactive titanium in the Cassiopeia A supernova remnant, which has expanded outward and become visible from Earth since the central star exploded in 1671.^
Astronomers see huge clouds of gas orbiting supermassive black holes at the centres of galaxies. Once thought to be a relatively uniform, fog-like ring, the accreting matter instead forms clumps dense enough to intermittently dim the intense radiation blazing forth as these enormous objects condense and consume matter.
Physics students at the University of Leicester have pointed out that the huge observational satellite Envisat - which lost contact with Earth in 2012 - could potentially pose a threat similar to the events which plague Sandra Bullock in the Oscar-nominated sci-fi thriller Gravity.
A new image from ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile shows the bright star cluster Messier 7. Easily spotted with the naked eye close to the tail of the constellation of Scorpius, it is one of the most prominent open clusters of stars in the sky - making it an important astronomical research target.