Planetary scientists have discovered pieces of opal in a meteorite found in Antarctica, a result that demonstrates that meteorites delivered water ice to asteroids early in the history of the solar system. Opal, familiar on Earth as a precious stone used in jewellery, is made up of silica (the major component of sand) with up to 30 percent water in its structure.
Astronomers have detected what may be the most-rapidly-rotating, ultra-cool, brown-dwarf star ever seen. The super-fast rotation period of less than an hour was measured by using the 305-metre Arecibo radio telescope — the same telescope that was used to discover the first planets ever found outside our solar system.
Gravitational waves captured by space-based detectors could help identify the origins of supermassive black holes, according to new computer simulations. Durham University’s Institute for Computational Cosmology ran the huge cosmological simulations that can be used to predict the rate at which gravitational waves caused by collisions between the monster black holes might be detected.
In preparation for the imminent arrival of NASA’s Juno spacecraft, astronomers have used ESO’s Very Large Telescope to obtain spectacular new infrared images of Jupiter as part of a campaign to create high-resolution maps of the giant planet. These observations will help astronomers to better understand the gas giant ahead of Juno’s close encounter next month.
This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image reveals the glittering interior of one of the most active galaxies in our local neighbourhood — NGC 1569, a small starburst galaxy located about eleven million light-years away in the northern constellation of Camelopardalis. For almost 100 million years, NGC 1569 has pumped out stars over 100 times faster than the Milky Way.
The visible camera on NASA’s Juno spacecraft is capturing a time-lapse movie of Jupiter and its four largest moons as the orbiter dives toward the giant planet for a 4 July rendezvous, and officials have released a first taste of the views armchair scientists and space enthusiasts can anticipate over the coming weeks and months.
Research teams on both sides of the Atlantic have ditched software approximations and found that small-scale structures produce important effects using new computer codes. Precise modelling of the cosmos using Einstein’s full theory of general relativity will change our detailed understanding of evolution in the universe and the growth of structure within it.
On 4 July, NASA will fly a solar-powered spacecraft the size of a basketball court within 2,900 miles of the cloud tops of our solar system’s largest planet, Jupiter. Over the past two weeks, several milestones occurred that were key to a successful 35-minute burn of its rocket motor, which will place the robotic explorer into a polar orbit around the gas giant.
Pluto’s largest moon, Charon, is home to an unusual canyon system that’s far longer and deeper than Arizona’s Grand Canyon. As far as NASA’s New Horizons scientists can tell, the canyon informally named Argo Chasma has a total length of approximately 430 miles — one and a half times the length and five times the depth of the Grand Canyon on Earth.
In the first billion years of Earth’s history, the planet was bombarded by primordial asteroids, while a faint Sun provided much less heat. A Southwest Research Institute-led team posits that this tumultuous beginning may have ultimately fostered life on Earth, particularly in terms of sustaining liquid water.