Heavens

The Parker Solar Probe spacecraft, which has flown closer to the Sun than any mission before, has found new evidence of the origins of the solar wind.

NASA's Parker Solar Probe was launched in August 2018. Its first results are published today in a series of four papers in Nature, with Imperial College London scientists among those interpreting some of the key data to reveal how the solar wind is accelerated away from the surface of the Sun.

In August 2018, NASA's Parker Solar Probe launched to space, soon becoming the closest-ever spacecraft to the Sun. With cutting-edge scientific instruments to measure the environment around the spacecraft, Parker Solar Probe has completed three of 24 planned passes through never-before-explored parts of the Sun's atmosphere, the corona. On Dec. 4, 2019, four new papers in the journal Nature describe what scientists have learned from this unprecedented exploration of our star -- and what they look forward to learning next.

ITHACA, N.Y. - A Cornell University senior has come up with a way to discern life on exoplanets loitering in other cosmic neighborhoods: a spectral field guide.

Zifan Lin has developed high-resolution spectral models and scenarios for two exoplanets that may harbor life: Proxima b, in the habitable zone of our nearest neighbor Proxima Centauri; and Trappist-1e, one of three possible Earth-like exoplanet candidates in the Trappist-1 system.

ANN ARBOR--Our closest-ever look inside the sun's corona has unveiled an unexpectedly chaotic world that includes rogue plasma waves, flipping magnetic fields and distant solar winds under the thrall of the sun's rotation, according to University of Michigan researchers who play key roles in NASA's Parker Solar Probe mission.

Star-quakes recorded by NASA's Kepler space telescope have helped answer a long-standing question about the age of the "thick disc" of the Milky Way.

In a paper published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, a team of 38 scientists led by researchers from Australia's ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in Three Dimensions (ASTRO-3D) use data from the now-defunct probe to calculate that the disc is about 10 billion years old.

Pasadena, CA-- A surprising analysis of the composition of gas giant exoplanets and their host stars shows that there isn't a strong correlation between their compositions when it comes to elements heavier than hydrogen and helium, according to new work led by Carnegie's Johanna Teske and published in the Astronomical Journal. This finding has important implications for our understanding of the planetary formation process.

A Queen's University Belfast scientist has led an international team to the ground-breaking discovery of why the Sun's magnetic waves strengthen and grow as they emerge from its surface, which could help to solve the mystery of how the corona of the Sun maintains its multi-million degree temperatures.

For more than 60 years observations of the Sun have shown that as the magnetic waves leave the interior of the Sun they grow in strength but until now there has been no solid observational evidence as to why this was the case.

Analysis of the impact craters on Ryugu using the spacecraft Hayabusa 2's remote sensing image data has illuminated the geological history of the Near-Earth asteroid.

A research group led by Assistant Professor Naoyuki Hirata of the Department of Planetology at Kobe University's Graduate School of Science revealed 77 craters on Ryugu. Through analyzing the location patterns and characteristics of the craters, they determined that the asteroid's eastern and western hemispheres were formed at different periods of time.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] -- Around 12 billion years ago, the universe emerged from a great cosmic dark age as the first stars and galaxies lit up. With a new analysis of data collected by the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) radio telescope, scientists are now closer than ever to detecting the ultra-faint signature of this turning point in cosmic history.

Theoreticians in two different fields defied the common knowledge that planets orbit stars like the Sun. They proposed the possibility of thousands of planets around a supermassive black hole.

"With the right conditions, planets could be formed even in harsh environments, such as around a black hole," says Keiichi Wada, a professor at Kagoshima University researching active galactic nuclei which are luminous objects energized by black holes.

An international group of scientists, in cooperation with a research scientist from Skoltech, has developed a model to describe changes in solar plasma. This will help comprehend solar dynamics and gives some clues to understanding how to predict space weather events. The results have been published in the Astrophysical Journal.

Researchers from Tohoku University, Hokkaido University, JAMSTEC, and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center investigated meteorites and found ribose and other sugars. These sugars possessed distinct carbon-isotope compositions, differing from terrestrial biological sugars, indicating their extraterrestrial origin. The results suggest that the sugars formed in the early solar system and made their way to earth via meteorites.

An international research team led by scientists from Göttingen and Potsdam proved for the first time that the galaxy NGC 6240 contains three supermassive black holes. The unique observations, published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, show the black holes close to each other in the core of the galaxy. The study points to simultaneous merging processes during the formation of the largest galaxies in the universe.

Wolfe Creek Crater, one of the world's largest meteorite craters, is much younger than previously thought.

Wolfe Creek Crater is situated on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert in northern Western Australia. It is the second largest crater on Earth from which meteorite fragments have been recovered (the largest is Meteor Crater in Arizona).

It was likely formed by a meteor about 15 metres in diameter, weighing around 14,000 tonnes.

The age of the impact is poorly understood and unpublished data suggests the impact could have occurred around 300,000 years ago.

After a decade-long search, an international team of researchers including the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (Kavli IPMU) have for the first time detected a gamma-ray burst in very-high-energy gamma light. This discovery was made in July 2018 by the H.E.S.S. collaboration using the huge 28-m telescope of the H.E.S.S. array in Namibia. Surprisingly, this Gamma-ray burst, an extremely energetic flash following a cosmological cataclysm, was found to emit very-high-energy gamma-rays long after the initial explosion.