Some Earths Like It Hot

Planetary systems form from the same cloud as its parent star. As the cloud contracts under the effect of gravity, the gas acquires more angular velocity. Spinning faster it flattens out into a disk where eventually planets end up forming. This simplistic approach has been shown to be correct by many observations (e.g. ALMA’s) but…

Future Moon Bases Are At Risk From Meteorites

A Moon base is many geeks dream, and it is believed to be a crucial first step towards the colonisation of the solar system. Everywhere outside our planet is an inhospitable environment, however a Moon base would still be close enough restock with food or fuel fairly quickly.  A new piece of research in Nature…

Leaving The Universe Behind

If the known universe was spherical would it be possible to move outside of it the same way a rocket can leave the Earth? Justin, New Zealand Oh that’s an interesting question. Could it be possible to leave our Universe? Probably not, but you don’t ask exactly that. You picked a specific universe. A spherical…

A ‘Van Gogh View’ Of The Polaris Flare

Space images can often be breathtaking and the night sky has often inspired artists to produce incredible masterpieces. Sometimes even the way astronomers represent data can be both scientifically and artistically stunning. Case in point is the polarization map released by the Planck Collaboration, which shows unique views of the universe, and reminds me of…

Interstellar Travel Meets The Real Universe

Interstellar travel is about to go from a Sci-fi idea to physical reality, but the jump comes with a series of considerations that fiction writers don’t have to consider. This could work as an introduction for the apparent lack of toilets in Star Trek, but it’s actually something else. You see, space is not as…

Testing Relativity With Nothing

There are two big problems with astrophysics, and they are called dark energy and dark matter. Dark energy is responsible for the accelerated expansion of the Universe. Dark matter keeps the galaxies together, and we think it’s made of particles which don’t emit any light. We don’t know exactly what they are made of, but…

A Ghostly Cradle Of Stars

If you wonder where we came from and how we got here, there’s a step we are quite confident on. About 5 billions of years ago, before the Sun shone a single ray all the atoms you are made of were part of a large gas cloud like the one in the picture. The object…