Heavens

Venus may have active volcanoes

Venus may have active volcanoes

An international team of scientists has found some of the best evidence yet that Venus, Earth's nearest neighbor, is volcanically active.

In combing through data from the European Space Agency's Venus Express mission, the scientists found transient spikes in temperature at several spots on the planet's surface. The hotspots, which were found to flash and fade over the course of just a few days, appear to be generated by active flows of lava on the surface.

Celestial butterfly emerges from its dusty cocoon

Celestial butterfly emerges from its dusty cocoon

Some of the sharpest images ever made with ESO's Very Large Telescope have, for the first time, revealed what appears to be an ageing star giving birth to a butterfly-like planetary nebula. These observations of the red giant star L2 Puppis, from the ZIMPOL mode of the newly installed SPHERE instrument, also clearly showed a close stellar companion. The dying stages of stars continue to pose astronomers with many riddles, and the origin of such bipolar nebulae, with their complex and alluring hourglass figures, doubly so.

Quenched glasses, asteroid impacts, and ancient life on Mars

Quenched glasses, asteroid impacts, and ancient life on Mars

Quenched glasses formed by asteroid impacts can encapsulate and preserve biological material for millions of years on Earth, and can also serve as a substrate for microbial life. These impact glasses are thus an important target to search for signs of ancient life on Mars, but until now they have not been definitively detected on the martian surface.

In this study, Kevin Cannon and John Mustard used orbital remotely sensed data to investigate spectral signatures of geologic units on Mars that were formed during impacts (impactites).

Alice instrument's ultraviolet close-up provides a surprising discovery about Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko's atmosphere

Alice instrument's ultraviolet close-up provides a surprising discovery about Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko's atmosphere

A close-up of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko by NASA's ultraviolet instrument surprised scientists by revealing that electrons close to the comet's surface -- not photons from the Sun as had been believed -- cause the rapid breakup of water and carbon dioxide molecules spewing from the surface.

Hubble sees shock collision inside black hole jet

Hubble sees shock collision inside black hole jet

When you're blasting though space at more than 98 percent of the speed of light, you may need driver's insurance. Astronomers have discovered for the first time a rear-end collision between two high-speed knots of ejected matter. This discovery was made while piecing together a time-lapse movie of a plasma jet blasted from a supermassive black hole inside a galaxy located 260 million light-years from earth.

Comet Wild 2: A window into the birth of the solar system?

Comet Wild 2: A window into the birth of the solar system?

Our solar system, and other planetary systems, started as a disk of microscopic dust, gas, and ice around the young Sun. The amazing diversity of objects in the solar system today - the planets, moons, asteroids, and comets - was made from this primitive dust.

NASA's Stardust mission returned to Earth with samples of comet Wild 2, a comet that originated outside the orbit of Neptune and was subsequently kicked closer to Earth's orbit in 1974 when Jupiter's gravity altered Wild 2's orbit.

The dark side of star clusters

The dark side of star clusters

Globular star clusters are huge balls of thousands of stars that orbit most galaxies. They are among the oldest known stellar systems in the Universe and have survived through almost the entire span of galaxy growth and evolution.

We're not alone, mathematically, but the universe may be less crowded than we think

There may be far fewer galaxies further out in the Universe then might be expected, suggests a new study based on simulations conducted using the Blue Waters supercomputer at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, with resulting data transferred to SDSC Cloud at the San Diego Supercomputer Center at the University of California, San Diego, for future analysis.

What does the Milky Way weigh?

What if your doctor told you that your weight is somewhere between 100 and 400 lbs.? With any ordinary scale every patient can do better at home. Yet, one patient can't: the Milky Way. Even though today we peer deeper into space than ever before, our home galaxy's weight is still unknown to about a factor of four. Researchers at Columbia University's Astronomy Department have now developed a new method to give the Milky Way a more precise physical checkup.

How to prepare weather forecasts for exoplanets

"Cloudy for the morning, turning to clear with scorching heat in the afternoon."

While this might describe a typical late-summer day in many places on Earth, it may also apply to planets outside our solar system, according to a new study by an international team of astrophysicists from the University of Toronto, York University and Queen's University Belfast.