Bouncing boulders on Comet 67P

Close-up of Comet 67P

A 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko update by Melanie Davies FRAS In September 2019, at a major planetary sciences conference (EPSC-DPS), scientists lead by Jean-Baptiste Vincent presented evidence of curious bouncing boulders on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. EPSC-DPS is the joint meeting of the European Planetary Science Congress and the Division of Planetary Sciences, and last year was held in Geneva, … Continue reading Bouncing boulders on Comet 67P

Looking East: The rise of the Chinese Space Programme

Melanie Davies looks back at ancient Chinese rocketry and delves into the impressive emergence of the space industry in China Some might argue that the birth of the space age can be traced back to 3rd century China when the word ‘rocket’ first appeared during the Three Kingdoms period (220 - 280). In 228 the … Continue reading Looking East: The rise of the Chinese Space Programme

A new Saturnian hexagon high above the clouds

Using data captured by the Cassini spacecraft, scientists working at the University of Leicester have recently detected a high-altitude hexagonal feature, towering high above the clouds. As part of a long-term study, they discovered a North Polar Stratospheric Vortex (NPSV). This newly discovered detail, abundant in hydrocarbons, could be influenced by a much larger feature … Continue reading A new Saturnian hexagon high above the clouds

Molecular zoo found in Sculptor Galaxy

Hubble image of NGC 253

A group of research scientists led by Ryo Ando from the University of Tokyo have peered into the starburst galaxy, NGC 253 - also known as the Sculptor Galaxy - to reveal a collection of diverse molecules in never-seen-before resolution. Starburst galaxies like NGC 253 are active star-forming galaxies, and have been major players in … Continue reading Molecular zoo found in Sculptor Galaxy

Exo Belts found orbiting Proxima Centauri

Artist’s impression of the dust belts around Proxima Centauri

Similar to the Asteroid Belt and Kuiper Belt, astronomers using the ALMA Observatory in Chile - part of the European Southern Observatory - have found rings of cold dust orbiting the closest star to the Solar System, Proxima Centauri (or Proxima for short). Proxima - a red dwarf star - is just over four lightyears … Continue reading Exo Belts found orbiting Proxima Centauri

A blast from the past

Composite image of supernova SN 1987A

It's been 30 years since a giant star in the Large Magellanic Cloud exploded; the nearest supernova explosion recorded in hundreds of years. To mark the 30th anniversary of this cosmic observation, images from ground- and space-based telescopes have been combined to reveal the evolution of SN1987A. This new multi-wavelength image, released on 24th February … Continue reading A blast from the past

Earth-like planet detected orbiting nearby star

A group of scientists, led by Guillem Anglada-Escudé at Queen Mary University in London, have detected what they believe is the nearest terrestrial planet to our Solar System.  Using the radial velocity technique, aided by instruments at the European Southern Observatory, astronomers have produced a lightcurve of a nearby variable star. The red dwarf, Proxima … Continue reading Earth-like planet detected orbiting nearby star

A mysterious binary star

Magnetic binary stars

An enormous magnetic binary star system has been discovered by Canadian PhD student, Matt Shultz of Queen’s University, Ontario. The object is unusual because giant stars rarely have magnetic fields; and giant binary stars with magnetism are even less common, accounting for only about 2% of stars in the Milky Way. The discovery was made using … Continue reading A mysterious binary star

A shattered lunar landscape

Moon's gravity map

Astronomers using gravity maps from NASA’s twin GRAIL (Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory) satellites have discovered that the Moon’s upper crust - the megaregolith -  is highly porous. The GRAIL satellites, Ebb and Flow, determined the Moon’s gravity field by measuring tiny movements of the spacecraft due to the push and pull of gravity upon … Continue reading A shattered lunar landscape