Heavens

BOULDER, CO, USA: As Curiosity rover marches across Mars, the red planet's watery past comes into clearer focus.

In early 2017 scientists announced the discovery of possible desiccation cracks in Gale Crater, which was filled by lakes 3.5 billion years ago. Now, a new study has confirmed that these features are indeed desiccation cracks, and reveals fresh details about Mars' ancient climate.

Sending a human into space and doing it efficiently presents a galaxy of challenges. Koki Ho, University of Illinois assistant professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, and his graduate students, Hao Chen and Bindu Jagannatha, explored ways to integrate the logistics of space travel by looking at a campaign of lunar missions, spacecraft design, and creating a framework to optimize fuel and other resources.

An Australian-led group of astronomers working with European collaborators has revealed the "DNA" of more than 340,000 stars in the Milky Way, which should help them find the siblings of the Sun, now scattered across the sky.

This is a major announcement from an ambitious Galactic Archaeology survey, called GALAH, launched in late 2013 as part of a quest to uncover the formulation and evolution of galaxies. When complete, GALAH will investigate more than a million stars.

The SPHERE instrument on ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile allows astronomers to suppress the brilliant light of nearby stars in order to obtain a better view of the regions surrounding them. This collection of new SPHERE images is just a sample of the wide variety of dusty discs being found around young stars.

Astrophysicists from the University of Surrey and the University of Edinburgh have created a new method to measure the amount of dark matter at the centre of tiny "dwarf" galaxies.

Dark matter makes up most of the mass of the Universe, yet it remains elusive. Depending on its properties, it can be densely concentrated at the centres of galaxies, or more smoothly distributed over larger scales. By comparing the distribution of dark matter in galaxies with detailed models, researchers can test or rule out different dark matter candidates.

Astronomers are back in the dark about what dark matter might be, after new observations showed the mysterious substance may not be interacting with forces other than gravity after all. Dr Andrew Robertson of Durham University will today (Friday 6 April) present the new results at the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science in Liverpool.

Three years ago, a Durham-led international team of researchers thought they had made a breakthrough in ultimately identifying what dark matter is.

Despite their appearance solar tornadoes are not rotating after all, according to a European team of scientists. A new analysis of these gigantic structures, each one several times the size of the Earth, indicates that they may have been misnamed because scientists have so far only been able to observe them using 2-dimensional images.

A study of the evolution of magnetic fields inside neutron stars shows that instabilities can create intense magnetic hot spots that survive for millions of years, even after the star's overall magnetic field has decayed significantly. The results will be presented by Dr Konstantinos Gourgouliatos of Durham University at the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science (EWASS) in Liverpool on Wednesday, 4th April.

The first large-scale age-map of the Milky Way shows that a period of star formation lasting around 4 billion years created the complex structure at the heart of our galaxy. The results will be presented by Marina Rejkuba at the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science (EWASS) in Liverpool on Tuesday, 3rd April.

Maunakea, Hawaii - Galaxies and dark matter go hand in hand; you typically don't find one without the other. So when researchers uncovered a galaxy, known as NGC1052-DF2, that is almost completely devoid of the stuff, they were shocked.