Radioactive elements may be key to exoplanet habitability
Evidence of Uranus’ leaking atmosphere found hidden in Voyager 2 observations
Fastest-spinning brown-dwarf star is detected by its bursts of radio waves
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.
How black hole jets break out of their galaxies
A computer simulation of the powerful jets generated by supermassive black holes at the centres of the largest galaxies explains why some burst forth as bright beacons visible across the universe, while others fall apart and never pierce the halo of the galaxy. A jet’s hot ionised gas is propelled by the twisting magnetic fields of the central rotating black hole.
NASA directly observes fundamental process of nature for first time
Like sending sensors up into a hurricane, NASA has flown four spacecraft through an invisible maelstrom in space, called magnetic reconnection. Magnetic reconnection is one of the prime drivers of space radiation and so it is a key factor in the quest to learn more about our space environment and protect our spacecraft and astronauts as we explore farther and farther from our home planet.
VLA reveals dramatic new evidence about star and planet formation
A detailed study of young stars and their surroundings has produced dramatic new evidence about how multiple-star systems form and how the dusty discs that are the raw material for planets grow around young stars. Scientists used the Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope to study nearly 100 newborn stars in a cloud of gas and dust about 750 light-years from Earth.
Ageing stars don’t spin down exactly as expected
New information about the way mature stars spin indicates that one recently developed method for determining a star’s age needs to be recalibrated for stars that are older than our Sun, as spin rate is one of the few windows into stellar ages. This has implications for our own solar system, as our own Sun might be on the cusp of a transition in its magnetic field.
Magnetic fields in powerful radio jets from supermassive black holes
Supermassive black holes at the centres of galaxies can spawn tremendous bipolar jets extending over hundreds of thousands of light-years. A CfA study of the bright radio jet galaxy Pictoris suggests that bright X-ray emission from the jets is produced by rapidly moving charged particles in magnetic fields.