As anybody who has started a campfire by rubbing sticks knows, friction generates heat. Now, computer modeling by NASA scientists shows that friction could be the key to survival for some distant Earth-sized planets traveling in dangerous orbits.
Understanding the sun from afar isn't easy. NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft - which orbits Mercury, and so is as close as 28 million miles from the sun versus Earth's 93 million miles - is near enough to the sun to detect solar neutrons that are created in solar flares.
For the first time, in response to the public's increased interest in being part of discoveries in astronomy, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) is organizing a worldwide contest to give popular names to selected exoplanets along with their host stars.
In the middle of the 19th century, the massive binary system Eta Carinae underwent an eruption that ejected at least 10 times the sun's mass and made it the second-brightest star in the sky. Now, a team of astronomers has used extensive new observations to create the first high-resolution 3-D model of the expanding cloud produced by this outburst.
Processes that shaped the ridges and troughs on the surface of Jupiter's icy moon Ganymede are likely similar to tectonic processes seen on Earth, according to a team of researchers led by Southwest Research Institute. To arrive at this conclusion, the team subjected physical models made of clay to stretching forces that simulate tectonic action.
Something is amiss in the Universe. There appears to be an enormous deficit of ultraviolet light in the cosmic budget. The vast reaches of empty space between galaxies are bridged by tendrils of hydrogen and helium, which can be used as a precise 'light meter.' In a recent study a team of scientists finds that the light from known populations of galaxies and quasars is not nearly enough to explain observations of intergalactic hydrogen. The difference is a stunning 400 percent.
An observatory found a 'hotspot' beneath the Big Dipper emitting a disproportionate number of the highest-energy cosmic rays. The discovery moves physics another step toward identifying the mysterious sources of the most energetic particles in the universe.
The dramatic conclusion to ESA's latest StarTiger project: a 'dropship' quadcopter steers itself to lower a rover gently onto a safe patch of the rocky martian surface. StarTiger's Dropter project was tasked with developing and demonstrating a European precision-landing capability for Mars and other targets.