Heavens

MADISON - Space physicists at University of Wisconsin-Madison have just released unprecedented detail on a bizarre phenomenon that powers the northern lights, solar flares and coronal mass ejections (the biggest explosions in our solar system).

The data on so-called "magnetic reconnection" came from a quartet of new spacecraft that measure radiation and magnetic fields in high Earth orbit.

Chris Packham, associate professor of physics and astronomy at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), has collaborated on a new study that expands the scientific community's understanding of black holes in our galaxy and the magnetic fields that surround them.

When exoplanet scientists first spotted patterns in disks of dust and gas around young stars, they thought newly formed planets might be the cause. But a recent NASA study cautions that there may be another explanation -- one that doesn't involve planets at all.

The first tropical depression of the northwestern Pacific Ocean 2018 tropical cyclone season didn't waste any time forming after the first of the new year. Tropical Depression 1W formed just west of the Philippines in the Sulu Sea as NASA's Terra satellite passed overhead early on Jan. 2, 2018.

Young galaxies blaze with bright new stars forming at a rapid rate, but star formation eventually shuts down as a galaxy evolves. A new study, published January 1, 2018, in Nature, shows that the mass of the black hole in the center of the galaxy determines how soon this "quenching" of star formation occurs.

Despite the many impressive discoveries humans have made about the universe, scientists are still unsure about the birth story of our solar system.

Scientists with the University of Chicago have laid out a comprehensive theory for how our solar system could have formed in the wind-blown bubbles around a giant, long-dead star. Published Dec. 22 in the Astrophysical Journal, the study addresses a nagging cosmic mystery about the abundance of two elements in our solar system compared to the rest of the galaxy.

A team of U.S. astronomers including UCLA's Benjamin Zuckerman has found evidence suggesting that the strange, unpredictable dimming of a star 550 light-years away may be caused by vast orbiting clouds of gas and dust.

When NASA's Aqua satellite passed over Kai-Tak it measured cloud top temperatures and provided a look at the structure of the elongated storm.

The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder aboard NASA's Aqua satellite captured an infrared image of Kai-Tak on Dec. 21 at 1:41 a.m. EST (0641 UTC). Despite the storm weakening and elongating from wind shear, there were still some strong storms within.

An international study co-led by SFU researcher Brendan Dyck has revealed that the sun may not have evaporated away all of Mars' surface water after all. Instead, the surface water on Mars was absorbed by its crust over time, leaving the planet essentially dry.

"The public's infatuation with finding life on Mars stems from the many characteristics both Earth and Mars share," says Dyck. "Early on, both planets had similar potential to sustain life, but as time evolved, Mars lost its surface water along with its potential to sustain complex multi-cellular life."

Three months of observations with the National Science Foundation's Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) have allowed astronomers to zero in on the most likely explanation for what happened in the aftermath of the violent collision of a pair of neutron stars in a galaxy 130 million light-years from Earth. What they learned means that astronomers will be able to see and study many more such collisions.