Astronomy

04/03/2014 - 12:19

Mercury was long thought to be lacking volatile compounds that cause explosive volcanism. That view started to change when the MESSENGER spacecraft returned pictures of pyroclastic deposits — the telltale signature of volcanic explosions. Now more detailed data from MESSENGER shows that volcanoes exploded on Mercury for a substantial portion of the planet’s history. The findings suggest Mercury not only had volatiles but held on to them for longer than scientists had expected.

 

03/31/2014 - 08:11

Scientists have developed a way of reading the universe's 'cosmic barometer' to learn more about ancient violent events in space. Exploding stars, random impacts involving comets and meteorites, and even near misses between two bodies can create regions of great heat and high pressure.

 

03/27/2014 - 14:48

It has been established that the Heliospheric Magnetic Field (HMF) intensity fluctuates with the solar cycle. During the recent protracted solar minimum of cycle 24, the HMF intensity fell to a record observed low. As well, after the relatively small maximum of cycle 24, it has been shown that the magnetic and particle fluxes only made a partial recovery. Building on Schwadron et al. [2010], we show that the decreased flux levels at maximum will lead to an even lower coming minimum.

 

02/20/2014 - 12:33

In a paper published this week in the journal Physical Review Letters, MIT researchers propose an experiment that may close the last major loophole of Bell’s inequality — a 50-year-old theorem that, if violated by experiments, would mean that our universe is based not on the textbook laws of classical physics, but on the less-tangible probabilities of quantum mechanics.

 

02/12/2014 - 07:46

Four unknown galaxy clusters each potentially containing thousands of individual galaxies have been discovered some 10 billion light years from Earth. An international team of astronomers, led by Imperial College London, used a new way of combining data from the two European Space Agency satellites, Planck and Herschel, to identify more distant galaxy clusters than has previously been possible. The researchers believe up to 2000 further clusters could be identified using this technique, helping to build a more detailed timeline of how clusters are formed.

 

12/09/2013 - 09:51

A massive impact on the Moon about 4 billion years ago left a 2,500-mile crater, among the largest known craters in the solar system. Smaller subsequent impacts left craters within that crater. Comparing the spectra of light reflected from the peaks of those craters may yield clues to the composition of the Moon’s lower crust and mantle — and would have implications for models of how the Moon formed.