NASA's Cassini spacecraft is monitoring the evolution of a mysterious feature in a large hydrocarbon sea on Saturn's moon Titan. The feature covers an area of about 100 square miles (260 square kilometers) in Ligeia Mare, one of the largest seas on Titan. It has now been observed twice by Cassini's radar experiment, but its appearance changed between the two apparitions.
Certain primordial stars -- between 55,000 and 56,000 times the mass of our sun, or solar masses -- may have died unusually. In death, these objects -- among the universe's first generation of stars -- would have exploded as supernovae and burned completely, leaving no remnant black hole behind.
Hunting from a distance of 27,000 light years, astronomers have discovered an unusual carbon-based molecule contained within a giant gas cloud in interstellar space. The discovery suggests that the complex molecules needed for life may have their origins in interstellar space.
Imagine seeing the Sun, planets, and a myriad other objects in our Solar System as you have never seen them before -- in invisible radio light! The National Radio Astronomy Observatory released a new Solar System installment of its Milky Way Explorer.
Scientists are to turn the Moon into a giant particle detector to help understand the origin of Ultra-High-Energy (UHE) cosmic rays -- the most energetic particles in the Universe. The origin of UHE cosmic rays is one of the great mysteries in astrophysics. Nobody knows where these extremely rare cosmic rays come from or how they get their enormous energies. Physicists detect them on Earth at a rate of less than one particle per square kilometer per century.
Water was crucial to the rise of life on Earth and is also important to evaluating the possibility of life on other planets. Identifying the original source of Earth's water is key to understanding how life-fostering environments come into being and how likely they are to be found elsewhere. New work found that much of our solar system's water likely originated as ices that formed in interstellar space.
Scientists have for the first time detected a carbon-bearing molecule with a 'branched' structure in interstellar space. The discovery of iso-propyl cyanide opens a new frontier in the complexity of molecules found in regions of star formation, and bodes well for the presence of amino acids, for which this branched structure is a key characteristic.
Astronomers usually have to peer very far into the distance to see back in time, and view the Universe as it was when it was young. This new image of galaxy DDO 68, otherwise known as UGC 5340, was thought to offer an exception. This ragged collection of stars and gas clouds looks at first glance like a recently-formed galaxy in our own cosmic neighborhood. But, is it really as young as it looks?