Category Archives: Astronomy

New theories are taking shape about how planets are made

Rebecca Boyle writes: Start at the center, with the sun. Our middle-aged star may be more placid than most, but it is otherwise unremarkable. Its planets, however, are another story. First, Mercury: More charred innards than fully fledged planet, it probably lost its outer layers in a traumatic collision long ago. Next come Venus and… Read More »

Looking directly towards the edge of time

Dr Katie Mack writes: “From a tropical rainforest to the edge of time itself, James Webb begins a voyage back to the birth of the Universe” – so went the launch narration when astronomy’s latest superpowered space explorer, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), lifted off from French Guiana on Christmas Day. Like most launch… Read More »

First known interstellar object on Earth, scientists say

Motherboard reports: An object from another star system crashed into Earth in 2014, the United States Space Command (USSC) confirmed in a newly-released memo. The meteor ignited in a fireball in the skies near Papua New Guinea, the memo states, and scientists believe it possibly sprinkled interstellar debris into the South Pacific Ocean. The confirmation… Read More »

Massive black holes shown to act like quantum particles

Charlie Wood writes: When two black holes collide, the titanic crash ripples out through the very fabric of the cosmos. Physicists have used Albert Einstein’s theory of gravity to predict the rough contours of these gravitational waves as they pass through Earth, and wave after wave has been confirmed by the LIGO and Virgo gravitational-wave… Read More »

What we can learn about the universe from just one galaxy

Rivka Galchen writes: Imagine if you could look at a snowflake at the South Pole and determine the size and the climate of all of Antarctica. Or study a randomly selected tree in the Amazon rain forest and, from that one tree—be it rare or common, narrow or wide, young or old—deduce characteristics of the… Read More »

A large solar storm could knock out the power grid and the internet – an electrical engineer explains how

Typical amounts of solar particles hitting the earth’s magnetosphere can be beautiful, but too much could be catastrophic. Svein-Magne Tunli – tunliweb.no/Wikimedia, CC BY-NC-SA By David Wallace, Mississippi State University On Sept. 1 and 2, 1859, telegraph systems around the world failed catastrophically. The operators of the telegraphs reported receiving electrical shocks, telegraph paper catching… Read More »

Peptides on stardust may have provided a shortcut to life

Yasemin Saplakoglu writes: Billions of years ago, some unknown location on the sterile, primordial Earth became a cauldron of complex organic molecules from which the first cells emerged. Origin-of-life researchers have proposed countless imaginative ideas about how that occurred and where the necessary raw ingredients came from. Some of the most difficult to account for… Read More »

One shot to see the universe like never before

Marina Koren writes: In the beginning, the universe was dark. The Big Bang had electrified the cosmos into existence, and the new landscape buzzed with particles, chaotic and hot, before cooling off into a calm expanse of hydrogen and helium. Then something began to happen in the fog. Gravity drove pockets of gas to collapse… Read More »