"I always tell fellow planetary scientists to expect the unexpected on Mars," said Doug Ming, ARES chief scientist at Johnson and co-author of the paper. "The discovery of tridymite was completely unexpected. This discovery now begs the question of whether Mars experienced a much more violent and explosive volcanic history during the early evolution of the planet than previously thought."
Massive stars that collapse upon themselves and end their lives as black holes, like the pair LIGO detected last September, are extremely rare. They are less evolved, “more primitive stars,” that occur in special configurations in the universe. These stars from the early universe are made of more pristine hydrogen, a gas which makes them “Titans among stars,” at 40 to 100 solar masses. In contrast, younger generations of stars consumed the corpses of their predecessors containing heavy elements, which stunted their growth.
With eruptions of ice and water vapor, and an ocean covered by an ice shell, Saturn's moon Enceladus is one of the most fascinating in the Solar System, especially as interpretations of data provided by the Cassini spacecraft have been contradictory until now. An international team including researchers recently proposed a new model that reconciles different data sets and shows that the ice shell at Enceladus's south pole may be only a few kilometers thick. This suggests that there is a strong heat source in the interior of Enceladus, an additional factor supporting the possible emergence of life in its ocean. The study has just been published online on the website of Geophysical Research Letters.
Astronomers have discovered a vast cloud of high-energy particles called a wind nebula around a rare ultra-magnetic neutron star, or magnetar, for the first time. The find offers a unique window into the properties, environment and outburst history of magnetars, which are the strongest magnets in the universe.
"That's amazing to me," said Noah Hammond of Brown University. "The possibility that you could have vast liquid water ocean habitats so far from the sun on Pluto -- and that the same could also be possible on other Kuiper belt objects as well -- is absolutely incredible."
"We could be just a few decades from proving if there is life elsewhere," says astrophysicist Rene Heller, a post-doctoral fellow at McMaster University's Origins Institute who worked with Pudritz, a professor of physics and astronomy and director of the Origins Institute. "For all this time, we have been looking on other planets, when the answer could be on a moon."
Venus has an "electric wind" strong enough to remove the components of water from its upper atmosphere, which may have played a significant role in stripping Earth's twin planet of its oceans, according to new results from ESA's (European Space Agency) Venus Express mission by NASA-funded researchers.
Earth's magnetosphere, the region of space dominated by Earth's magnetic field, protects our planet from the harsh battering of the solar wind. Like a protective shield, the magnetosphere absorbs and deflects plasma from the solar wind which originates from the Sun. When conditions are right, beautiful dancing auroral displays are generated. But when the solar wind is most violent, extreme space weather storms can create intense radiation in the Van Allen belts and drive electrical currents which can damage terrestrial electrical power grids. Earth could then be at risk for up to trillions of dollars of damage.
"In the last 20 years, we have learned that nature can produce a staggering diversity of planets--from planets that orbit two stars to planets that complete a full orbit every few hours," says Erik Petigura, a Caltech postdoctoral scholar in planetary science and a coauthor. "We have much to learn, and K2-33b is giving us new clues."