Mega-tsunamis ravaged shorelines of ancient Martian ocean

The geologic shape of what were once shorelines through Mars’ northern plains 3.4 billion years ago convinces scientists that two large meteorites – hitting the planet millions of years apart – triggered a pair of mega-tsunamis. These gigantic waves, likely 120 metres high, forever scarred the Martian landscape and yielded evidence of cold, salty oceans.

Picture This

VLC sees star birth in the Large Magellanic Cloud

In this image from ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), light from blazing blue stars energises the gas left over from the stars’ recent formation. The result is a strikingly colourful emission nebula, called LHA 120-N55, in which the stars are adorned with a mantle of glowing gas. LHA 120-N55 lies within the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way.

Picture This

Hubble captures close-up view of the Red Planet

Bright, frosty polar caps, and clouds above a vivid, rust-coloured landscape reveal Mars as a dynamic seasonal planet in this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope view taken on 12 May 2016, when Mars was 50 million miles from Earth. The image reveals details as small as 20 to 30 miles across. On 30 May, Mars will be the closest it has been to Earth in 11 years.


New Horizons collects first science on a post-Pluto object

Warming up for a possible extended mission as it speeds through deep space, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has now twice observed 1994 JR1, a 90-mile-wide Kuiper Belt object (KBO) orbiting more than 3 billion miles from the Sun. Science team members have used these observations to reveal new facts about this distant remnant of the early solar system.


Mars opposition 2016: Which side of the Red Planet is visible tonight?

On the morning of Sunday, 22 May planet Mars reached opposition in the constellation of Scorpius and is closest to the Earth on 30 May — its best showing in a decade for Southern Hemisphere observers. As seen from the UK the Red Planet will be low in the south at 1am BST, but on nights of good seeing surface detail will be visible in amateur telescopes. Use our interactive Mars Mapper to identify its features.


Stars nearly as old as Sun found to have similar spin rates

Astrophysicists from Germany and America have for the first time measured the rotation periods of stars in a cluster nearly as old as the Sun. It turns out that these stars spin once in about twenty-six days — just like our Sun. This discovery significantly strengthens what is known as the solar-stellar connection, a fundamental principle that guides much of modern solar and stellar astrophysics.