This spring, humanity was shown its most detailed map of the early universe ever created. Generated by observations from the Planck spacecraft, the map revealed fluctuations in temperature in the relic radiation left over from the Big Bang - what we call the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB). Recently, scientists on the Planck team announced finding certain large-scale features on the CMB sky that they cannot explain. One of them: a large cold spot, which corresponds to an anomalously large area of high density.
Using data from a NASA satellite, scientists have discovered a massive particle accelerator in the heart of one of the harshest regions of near-Earth space, a region of super-energetic, charged particles surrounding the globe and known as the Van Allen radiation belts.
NASA's Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) spacecraft has captured its first observations of a region of the sun that is now possible to observe in detail: the lowest layers of the sun's atmosphere.
By directing energy beams at tiny crystals found in a Martian meteorite, a Western University-led team of geologists has proved that the most common group of meteorites from Mars is almost four billion years younger than many scientists had believed - resolving a long-standing puzzle in Martian science and painting a much clearer picture of the Red Planet's evolution that can now be compared to that of habitable Earth.
Comets and meteorites contain clues to our solar system's earliest days. But some of the findings are puzzle pieces that don't seem to fit well together. A new set of theoretical models from Carnegie's Alan Boss shows how an outburst event in the Sun's formative years could explain some of this disparate evidence. His work could have implications for the hunt for habitable planets outside of our solar system.
Researchers at Brown University have shown that some Martian valleys appear to have been caused by runoff from orographic precipitation - moisture carried part of the way up a mountain and deposited on the slopes. The findings help to answer the question of whether water flowing on ancient Mars bubbled up from the ground or fell down from the atmosphere.
Astronomers using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope have observed what most likely are strong carbon dioxide emissions from Comet ISON ahead of its anticipated pass through the inner solar system later this year.
Scientists led by the University of Leicester have set a new record for cosmic X-ray sources ever sighted - creating an unprecedented cosmic X-ray catalogue that will provide a valuable resource allowing astronomers to explore the extreme Universe.
In a bit of cosmic irony, planets orbiting cooler stars may be more likely to remain ice-free than planets around hotter stars. This is due to the interaction of a star's light with ice and snow on the planet's surface.
A snow line has been imaged in a far-off infant solar system for the very first time. The snow line, located in the disc around the Sun-like star TW Hydrae, promises to tell us more about the formation of planets and comets, the factors that decide their composition, and the history of the Solar System.
Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have determined the orbital motion of two distinct populations of stars in an ancient globular star cluster, offering proof they formed at different times and providing a rare look back into the Milky Way galaxy's early days.
The UK government has announced plans to invest in the development of an air-breathing rocket engine - intended for a single-stage-to-orbit spaceplane - following the ESA-managed feasibility testing of essential technology.