Observations made with the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (ESO's VLT) have revealed the telltale signs of a star system being born. Around the young star AB Aurigae lies a dense disc of dust and gas in which astronomers have spotted a prominent spiral structure with a 'twist' that marks the site where a planet may be forming. The observed feature could be the first direct evidence of a baby planet coming into existence.
To better understand and mitigate the health risks faced by astronauts from exposure to space radiation, we ideally need to be able to test the effects of galactic cosmic rays (GCRs) here on Earth under laboratory conditions. An article publishing on May 19, 2020, in the open-access journal PLOS Biology from Lisa Simonsen and colleagues at the NASA Langley Research Center, USA, describes how NASA has developed a ground-based GCR Simulator at the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory (NSRL), located at Brookhaven National Laboratory.
After examining a dozen types of suns and a roster of planet surfaces, Cornell University astronomers have developed a practical model - an environmental color "decoder" - to tease out climate clues for potentially habitable exoplanets in galaxies far away.
Scientists have developed a way to study liquid silicates at the extreme conditions found in the core-mantle boundary. This could lead to a better understanding of the Earth's early molten days, which could even extend to other rocky planets.
The mystery of some lava-like flows on Mars has been solved by scientists who say they are caused not by lava but by mud. There are tens of thousands of these landforms on the Martian surface, often situated where there are massive channels scoured into the surface by ancient liquids flowing downstream. Scientists performed experiments at low pressure and at extremely cold temperatures (-20°C) to recreate the Martian environment.
Mergers between black holes and neutron stars in dense star clusters are quite unlike those that form in isolated regions where stars are few. Their associated features could be crucial to the study of gravitational waves and their source. Dr Manuel Arca Sedda of the Institute for Astronomical Computing at Heidelberg University came to this conclusion in a study that used computer simulations.
Recently, researchers at the Shanghai Astronomical Observatory have presented a new model that for the first time simultaneously explains the origins of both the Fermi bubbles and the Galactic center biconical X-ray structure, which was discovered in 2003.
A new study by an international team of scientists revealed hundreds of new strong gravitational lensing candidates based on a deep dive into data collected for a US Department of Energy-supported telescope project in Arizona called the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument. The study, published in The Astrophysical Journal, benefited from the winning machine-learning algorithm in an international science competition.
Astronomers using the Subaru Telescope have determined that the Earth-like planets of the TRAPPIST-1 system are not significantly misaligned with the rotation of the star. This is an important result for understanding the evolution of planetary systems around very low-mass stars in general, and in particular the history of the TRAPPIST-1 planets including the ones near the habitable zone.
Astronomers have detected elusive pulsation patterns in dozens of young, rapidly rotating stars thanks to data from NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS).