Book Reviews

The Astronomy Bible

20 June 2015 Kerry Hebden

Small, chunky and handy enough to be stuffed in a rucksack for quick facts and tips on the go, six of the book’s eight chapters cover the Solar System, the remainder being devoted to all that lies beyond. An easy-reading book that won’t swamp the reader with complicated terminology and a waffling narrative, writes reviewer Kerry Hebden.

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Volcanic outgassing to aid in the search for life on other planets

11 June 2015 Kerry Hebden

Finding ways to confirm life on planets outside of our Solar System is often at the forefront of exoplanet research. Now a team of graduate students at the University of Washington (UW) have found a way to aid this search by proposing that future telescopes should look for explosive volcanic activity as a potential marker for life on other worlds.

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Last look at Hyperion

4 June 2015 Kerry Hebden

Saturn’s irregularly shaped moon Hyperion, received its last close inspection from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, before the probe heads on to its icy neighbour Dione.

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Briny seas maybe lurking on Europa

15 May 2015 Kerry Hebden

A decade-long question about the nature of dark spots on Europa’s surface has potentially been solved, with scientists suggesting that these spots are likely signs of irradiated sea salt from a subsurface ocean, deposited onto the surface through interactions with its rocky seafloor. If this is indeed the case, then these findings are an important consideration for assessing the habitability of the planet and whether it could support life or not.

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Galactic death by strangulation

13 May 2015 Kerry Hebden

Astronomers have long wondered how galaxies die and by what means. Now a team of researchers from the University of Cambridge and the Royal Observatory Edinburgh have found that the primary cause of galactic death is by the cut off of material needed to make new stars – a process known as strangulation.

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Young star system found to be host to organic molecules

10 April 2015 Kerry Hebden

Scientists using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array have found a complex carbon-based molecule in a protoplanetary disc around a young star – in quantities enough to fill all of Earth’s oceans – hinting that prebiotic chemistry is indeed universal and not limited to our Solar System.

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Getting close to Iapetus

8 April 2015 Kerry Hebden

This two-tone, almost yin-yang like image of Iapetus, Saturn’s third largest moon, is the view Cassini was privilege to when it did its second closest approach of the satellite earlier this year.

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Curiosity’s Martian nitrogen find raises possibility of ancient life

31 March 2015 Kerry Hebden

Nitrogen, in the form of nitric oxide (one nitrogen atom and one oxygen atom), has been detected for the first time on the surface of Mars by a team of researchers using the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite aboard NASA’s Curiosity rover, adding to the growing speculation that life could have once flourished on ancient Mars.