Planet Nine — the undiscovered planet at the edge of the solar system that was predicted by the work of Caltech’s Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown in January 2016 — appears to be responsible for the unusual tilt of the Sun. The large and distant planet may be adding a wobble to the solar system, giving the appearance that the Sun is tilted slightly.
For the first time, astroarchaeologists have statistically proven that the earliest standing stone monuments of Britain — the great circles — were constructed specifically in line with the movements of the Sun and Moon, 5000 years ago. University of Adelaide researchers used innovative 2-D and 3-D technology to test the patterns of alignment in the standing stones.
Scientists at Aberystwyth University have developed an automated method for three-dimensional tracking of massive eruptions from the Sun, called Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs). The Automated CME Triangulation (ACT) system uses data from three space-based observatories that orbit the Sun at different locations, allowing scientists to view the Sun and CMEs from different angles.
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.
French astrophotographer Thierry Legault travelled to the suburbs of Philadelphia, USA to capture both the International Space Station and planet Mercury transiting the Sun on 9 May. This image includes multiple stacked frames to show the Station’s path in the fraction of a second it took to cross the Sun, while Mercury appears as a black dot at bottom-centre.
Some 4 billion years ago, the Sun shone with only about three-quarters the brightness we see today, but its surface roiled with giant eruptions spewing enormous amounts of radiation into space. These powerful solar explosions may have provided the crucial energy needed to create greenhouse gas in Earth’s atmosphere, warming the planet and incubating life.
The 9 May transit of Mercury was widely and successfully observed from large parts of Western Europe, South America and the east of North America. High above the Earth, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, had an uninterrupted view of the entire seven-and-a-half hour event, revealed here in a stunning time-lapse video.
The 2016 transit of Mercury is upon us! With fine weather predicted across a large swathe of the British Isles, many will enjoy clear skies for at least some of this 7½-hour event. But if you don’t have a suitably equipped telescope, or are unable to attend any of the transit-viewing activities organised nationwide, you can still view the phenomenon online.