The fundamental properties of matter revealed by merging neutron stars

Feb 15, 2019 Erwin van den Burg


Quarks are the smallest building blocks of matter, and are always tightly bound inside protons and neutrons. However, neutron stars are so dense that it is possible for a transition from neutron matter to ... Read more

Farewell Opportunity!

Feb 14, 2019 Alexandru Ciobanu


In the summer of 2003, NASA launched two rovers to explore the planet Mars: Opportunity and Spirit. Spirit ceased to operate in 2010, but Opportunity heroically continued to explore the planet until May 20... Read more

Mechanism of solar wind heating discovered

Feb 14, 2019 Erwin van den Burg


Scientists have shown that a process known as Landau damping is responsible for transferring energy from the electromagnetic plasma turbulence in space to electrons in the solar wind (stream of charged par... Read more

Possible vulcanic activity under the surface of Mars

Feb 13, 2019 Erwin van den Burg


While a recent study had reported the presence of liquid water under the icecap of the Martian southpole, it is still unknown how water could from there in such a cold environment.

A new mo... Read more

Cosmic collisions shape the atmosphere of planets

Feb 04, 2019 Alexandru Ciobanu


Why are rocky planets around the universe so diverse when it comes to their atmosphere? Astronomers came up with an answer by simulating a variety of cosmic impacts.

In a new study, they sho... Read more

Curiosity finds that Martian rocks are more porous than expected

Feb 01, 2019 Erwin van den Burg


New Curiosity Rover data analyses reveal that Mars rocks are less compacted than previously thought. New Curiosity Rover data analyses reveal that Mars rocks are less compacted than previously thought.

Curiosity measured the density of ro... Read more

NASA’s NICER mission maps ‘light echoes’ of new black hole

Jan 30, 2019 Erwin van den Burg


Scientists have charted the environment surrounding a stellar-mass black hole that is 10 times the mass of the Sun using NASA’s Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) payload aboard the International Space Station.

NICER detec... Read more

How black holes can grow so big

Jan 14, 2019 Erwin van den Burg


Black holes have been observed to swallow gas from its surroundings, which is now thought to underlie the fast pace at which black holes can keep growing for a long period of time.

Astron... Read more

The sky is filled with stars turning into crystals

Jan 09, 2019 Alexandru Ciobanu


A new study provides the first direct evidence that white dwarf stars solidify and turn into crystals. White dwarfs are the dead remnants of stars like our Sun and they have a core of solid oxygen and carb... Read more

Exotic class of super-Earths found

Dec 19, 2018 Erwin van den Burg


Rocky planets normally form in a dispersing disc of gas (the proto-planetary gas disc) that surrounds a star, in regions rich in iron, magnesium and silicon. This gives rise to Earth-like planets with an i... Read more

A relic from the early universe: a cloud of unpolluted gas that formed right after the Big Bang

Dec 18, 2018 Erwin van den Burg


Using the world’s most powerful optical telescope in Hawaii, astronomers have observed a cloud of gas that seems not to have been contaminated by heavy metals from exploding stars.

T... Read more

Pushing the boundaries: discovery of the most distant solar system object ever observed

Dec 18, 2018 Erwin van den Burg


For the first time, astronomers have observed an object in our solar system at a distance of more than 100 times the distance from the Earth to the Sun, at 120 astronomical units (AU) to be precise.

... Read more

A fast evaporating exoplanet found

Dec 14, 2018 Erwin van den Burg


Astronomers have been puzzled for a long time by the near-absence of big, Neptune-sized gas planets in the proximity of their star.

New observations with the Hubble Space Telescope have indicated that the hot Neptune-like exoplanet GJ 3470b, that ... Read more

Looking at the birth of planets

Dec 13, 2018 Erwin van den Burg


Astronomers have acquired new insights into the speed with which planets can form by studying protoplanetary disks, the belts of dust and gas around young stars. The observations were made with the Atacama... Read more

Early universe matter created in the laboratory

Dec 11, 2018 Erwin van den Burg


Scientists have created tiny droplets of extremely hot matter that are thought to have filled the early universe, i.e. the first microseconds after the Big Bang.

The matter was in a liqui... Read more

Helium found in the atmosphere of an exoplanet

Dec 07, 2018 Erwin van den Burg


An international team of researchers has detected helium in the atmosphere of exoplanet HAT-P-11b, located 124 light years away from Earth. Helium was found to escape from the planet’s atmosphere at ... Read more

Tracing the history of starlight across the universe

Nov 30, 2018 Erwin van den Burg


NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has measured all the starlight produced over 90% of the universe’s history. The telescope measures gamma-ray output from distant galaxies, especially from... Read more

NASA InSight probe just landed on planet Mars

Nov 26, 2018 Alexandru Ciobanu


What’s inside planet Mars? Well, we are about to find out! InSight, a NASA Mars lander module just landed on the red planet.

The probe will peer below the surface to gather data about ... Read more

Super-Earths’ magnetic fields generated by magma oceans

Nov 21, 2018 Alexandru Ciobanu


Super-Earths are very common among the newly-discovered exoplanets. But, do they have magnetic fields, like Earth?

Using computer simulations researchers concluded that they do, indeed, poss... Read more

Unique discovery by astronomers: dying massive stars in the Milky Way

Nov 19, 2018 Erwin van den Burg


Astronomers have discovered a special pair of stars and a spiral dust cloud whose form is best understood by assuming that one of the stars in this binary system is spinning extremely fast.

... Read more