In a bit of cosmic irony, planets orbiting cooler stars may be more likely to remain ice-free than planets around hotter stars. This is due to the interaction of a star's light with ice and snow on the planet's surface.
A snow line has been imaged in a far-off infant solar system for the very first time. The snow line, located in the disc around the Sun-like star TW Hydrae, promises to tell us more about the formation of planets and comets, the factors that decide their composition, and the history of the Solar System.
Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have determined the orbital motion of two distinct populations of stars in an ancient globular star cluster, offering proof they formed at different times and providing a rare look back into the Milky Way galaxy's early days.
The UK government has announced plans to invest in the development of an air-breathing rocket engine - intended for a single-stage-to-orbit spaceplane - following the ESA-managed feasibility testing of essential technology.
A new study indicates that a bow shock (a dynamic boundary between sun's heliosphere and the interstellar medium) is highly likely. These findings challenge recent predictions that no such bow shock would be encountered.
New areas of extragalactic study may emerge from research by astrophysicists using data from the Chandra Space Telescope to conclude that baryons making up all visible matter - once thought to be missing from clusters - are present in the expected ratios in large, luminous clusters.
Two NASA spacecraft have provided the most comprehensive movie ever of a mysterious process at the heart of all explosions on the sun: magnetic reconnection. Magnetic reconnection happens when magnetic field lines come together, break apart and then exchange partners, snapping into new positions and releasing a jolt of magnetic energy. This process lies at the heart of giant explosions on the sun, such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections, which can fling radiation and particles across the solar system.
A new study by NASA scientists sounds a cautionary note in interpreting rings and spiral arms as signposts for new planets. Thanks to interactions between gas and dust, a debris disk may, under the right conditions, produce narrow rings on its own, no planets needed.
To understand how the corona is heated, some astronomers study coronal loops. These structures are shaped like an upside-down U and show where magnetic field lines are funneling solar gases or plasma. Our best photos of the sun suggest that these loops are a constant width, like strands of rope. However, new work shows that this is an optical illusion; the loops are actually tapered, wider at the top and narrower at the ends. This finding has important implications for coronal heating.