Where should we go, on Mars, to look for droplets and streaks of present day liquid water? You may have heard of the "warm seasonal flows", and the recent "swimming pools of bacteria". 

However,  there are several other promising ideas for habitats such as the "Flow like features", the advancing sand dunes bioreactor, and possibilities for life using the humidity of the night time air on Mars. It's an exciting field with many new discoveries and ideas every year, and it is hard to keep up with the developments.

New simulations hope to uncover the origin of the ultraviolet light that bathes the cosmos, helping scientists understand how galaxies were built. 

"Which produces more light? A country's biggest cities or its many tiny towns?" asks Dr. Andrew Pontzen, University College London cosmologist and lead author of the study. "Cities are brighter, but towns are far more numerous. Understanding the balance would tell you something about the organisation of the country. We're posing a similar question about the universe: does ultraviolet light come from numerous but faint galaxies, or from a smaller number of quasars?" 

New research may help to solve the mystery of what caused a spectacular supernova in galaxy M82 11 million light years away.

The supernova, a giant explosion of a star and the closest one to the Earth in decades, was discovered earlier this year and new research into its cause used vast networks of radio telescopes in the UK and across Europe including the seven telescopes of e-MERLIN operated from The University of Manchester's Jodrell Bank Observatory. These enabled them to obtain extremely deep images revealing a lack of radio emission from the supernova.

Across Australia, catch Mars and Saturn around 8 pm local time.Source: Museum Victoria/Stellarium

By Tanya Hill, Museum Victoria

A new captured by the Wide Field Imager at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile shows two dramatic star formation regions in the southern Milky Way. On the left is the star cluster NGC 3603, located 20,000 light-years away in the Carina–Sagittarius spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy. On the right, about half as far from Earth, is a collection of glowing gas clouds known as NGC 3576.

Both were discovered by English astronomer John Herschel in 1834, during his three-year expedition to systematically survey the southern skies from near Cape Town. He described NGC 3603 as a remarkable object and thought that it might be a globular star cluster. Future studies showed that it is not an old globular, but a young open cluster, one of the richest known.

The Hypatia Catalog is the largest catalog ever produced for stellar compositions and seeks to help in understanding the properties of stars, how they form, and possible connections with orbiting planets.

Named after one of the first female astronomers, who lived ~350 A.D. in Alexandria, the digital catalog is a compilation of spectroscopic abundance data from 84 literature sources for 50 elements across 3,058 stars in the solar neighborhood, within 500 light years of the Sun. It essentially lists the compositions of stars, but only stars that are like the Sun – or F-, G-, or K-type (the Sun is a G-type star) – that are relatively near to the Sun. 

Astronomers have produced new maps of the material located between the stars in the Milky Way, which could move science closer to cracking a stardust puzzle nearly a century old.

 The researchers say their work demonstrates a new way of uncovering the location and eventually the composition of the interstellar medium—the material found in the vast expanse between star systems within a galaxy. 

This material includes dust and gas composed of atoms and molecules that are left behind when a star dies. The material also supplies the building blocks for new stars and planets.

The first analysis of space dust collected by a special collector onboard NASA's Stardust mission and sent back to Earth for study in 2006 suggests the tiny specks, which likely originated from beyond our solar system, are more complex in composition and structure than previously imagined.

The analysis, completed at a number of facilities including the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (Berkeley Lab) opens a door to studying the origins of the solar system and possibly the origin of life itself.

This idea goes back in 1967. James Lovelock, originator of the Gaia hypothesis, found a way to use a planetary atmosphere to detect life. He suggested that we look for simultaneous presence of pairs of gases like oxygen and methane that react together. We can also search for gases such as oxygen above  levels expected from abiotic processes.

As  far as we can see, Mars atmosphere seems to be close to equilibrium in this way. So when Viking I and II landed there in 1976, and found a barren desert-like surface, it seemed natural to conclude that there is no life on Mars.

NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) has captured an extreme and rare event in the regions immediately surrounding the supermassive black hole Markarian 335: a compact source of X-rays that sits near the black hole - the corona - has moved closer to the black hole over a period of just days.