'Interplanetary dust' is hugely important. It is thought to have played a crucial role in the formation and evolution of our solar system. What's more, it may even have provided our planet with water - and kick-started life.
The dilemma of whether to accept the cost of acting or risk disaster by waiting is the kind of strategic problem studied by game theory. A situation like the space debris problem, where players act just for their own benefit instead of taking group interests into account, is referred to in game theory as the 'tragedy of the commons'.
A new machine-learning simulation system promises cosmologists an expanded suite of galaxy models - a necessary first step to developing more accurate and relevant insights into the formation of the universe.
Astronomers have identified for the first time one of the key components of many stars, a study suggests. A type of gas found in the voids between galaxies - known as atomic gas - appears to be part of the star formation process under certain conditions, researchers say.
An enduring astronomical mystery is how stars and galaxies acquire their magnetic fields. Physicists now have found a clue to the answer in the collective behavior of small magnetic disturbances. They report that small magnetic perturbations can combine to form large-scale magnetic fields just like those found throughout the universe.
NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission has identified the process that appears to have played a key role in the transition of the Martian climate from an early, warm and wet environment that might have supported surface life to the cold, arid planet Mars is today.
When astronomers study protoplanetary disks of gas and dust that surround young stars, they sometimes spot a dark gap like the Cassini division in Saturn's rings. It has been suggested that any gap must be caused by an unseen planet that formed in the disk and carved out material from its surroundings. However, new research shows that a gap could be a sort of cosmic illusion and not the sign of a hidden planet after all.
The simulation, run on the Titan supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, modeled the evolution of the universe from just 50 million years after the Big Bang to the present day - from its earliest infancy to its current adulthood.