With a miniaturised space probe capable of being accelerated to a quarter of the speed of light, we could reach Alpha Centauri, our nearest star, in 20 to 50 years. However, without a mechanism to slow it down, the space probe could only collect data from the star and its planets as it zoomed past.
There are too many high-energy positrons in the cosmic rays reaching the Earth. These positrons could be being produced by pulsars in our vicinity. The most recent measurements have practically excluded this possibility, strengthening the competing and much more exotic hypothesis concerning the origin of the excess positrons.
Astrophysicists have found the first observational evidence for a contracting white dwarf. Constant high spin-up rate of a star of this type, located in an enigmatic binary system, can be easily explained if the white dwarf is contracting.
Stars like our Sun eject large amounts of gas and dust into space, containing various elements and compounds. Asymptotic giant branch -- AGB -- phase stars, near their end of life, are particularly significant sources of such substances in our galaxy.
Astronomers observed the galaxy NGC 253 and for the first time, they resolved the locations of star formation in this galaxy down to the scale of a molecular cloud, which is a star formation site with a size of about 30 light-years.
The ALMA Observatory has detected dust around Proxima Centauri. The data also hint at the presence of an outer dust belt and may indicate the presence of a planetary system. These structures are similar to the belts in the solar system and are expected to be made from rock and ice.
After a five-year, 1.74 billion-mile journey, NASA's Juno spacecraft entered Jupiter's orbit in July 2016, to begin its mission to collect data on the structure, atmosphere, and magnetic and gravitational fields of the mysterious planet.