Within modern cosmology, the Big Bang marks the beginning of the universe and the creation of matter, space and time about 13.8 billion years ago. Since then, the visible structures of the cosmos have developed: billions of galaxies which bind gas, dust, stars and planets with gravity and host supermassive black holes in their centres. But how could these visible structures have formed from the universe's initial conditions?

To answer this question, theoretical astrophysicists carry out cosmological simulations. They transform their knowledge about the physical processes forming our universe into mathematical models and simulate the evolution of our universe on high-performance computers over billions of years.

The Death Star of the movie Star Wars may be fictional, but planetary destruction is real. Astronomers announced today that they have spotted a large, rocky object disintegrating in its death spiral around a distant white dwarf star. The discovery also confirms a long-standing theory behind the source of white dwarf "pollution" by metals.

"This is something no human has seen before," says lead author Andrew Vanderburg of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA). "We're watching a solar system get destroyed."

When a star comes too close to a black hole, the intense gravity of the black hole results in tidal forces that can rip the star apart. In these events, called tidal disruptions, some of the stellar debris is flung outward at high speeds, while the rest falls toward the black hole. This causes a distinct X-ray flare that can last for years.

A team of astronomers has observed a tidal disruption event in a galaxy that lies about 290 million light years from Earth, the closest tidal disruption discovered in about a decade.

There is a very little reason to think that a Dyson sphere or Dyson swarm may have been sighted in orbit of star KIC 8462852 .  Whatever it is be it natural or of intelligent design it is big enough to dim the star’s light by 22%, and is not orbiting periodically.  In the case of a Dyson Sphere or Dyson swarm this would indicate mega structures independently orbiting the star and eclipsing it along our line of sight.  They are on record as stating that their Allen Telescope Array ought not be able to detect an intelligent signal at that distance.

This is a particularly silly story about Nibiru, published today (in the Daily Telegraph): The end of the world now predicted for December say doomsday groups: "Terrifying stuff. Apparently, the planet due to collide with us is often visible, you may have seen it already. If you spot a blob next to the sun when you take a photograph, it could be the deadly planet, not a reflection."

Scientists using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have produced new maps of Jupiter -- the first in a series of annual portraits of the solar system's outer planets.

Collecting these yearly images -- essentially the planetary version of annual school picture days for children -- will help current and future scientists see how these giant worlds change over time. The observations are designed to capture a broad range of features, including winds, clouds, storms and atmospheric chemistry.

Already, the Jupiter images have revealed a rare wave just north of the planet's equator and a unique filamentary feature in the core of the Great Red Spot not seen previously.

Much like the flapping of a windsock displays the quick changes in wind's speed and direction, called turbulence, comet tails can be used as probes of the solar wind - the constant flowing stream of material that leaves the sun in all directions.

According to new studies of a comet tail observed by NASA's Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory, or STEREO, the vacuum of interplanetary space is filled with turbulence and swirling vortices similar to gusts of wind on Earth. Such turbulence can help explain two of the wind's most curious features: its variable nature and unexpectedly high temperatures.

If there were humans on the Moon - would we see the settlement lights from the Earth? For instance during a thin crescent Moon - could we see the lights of civilization in the parts of the Moon in darkness? 

It's a fun question to answer I think, so let's give it a go.

We can work it out backwards from the brightness of the full Moon.

Looking out on the lunar surface from inside a Moon city, frame from the 1965 Russian film Luna

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Astronomers have long turned their telescopes, be they on satellites in space or observatories on Earth, to the wide swaths of interstellar medium to get a look at the formation and birth of stars. However, the images produced over the last 50 years look more like weather maps showing storm systems instead of glittering bursts of light that the untrained observer might expect of a "star map."

Until now.

Led by University of Florida astronomer Peter Barnes and Erik Muller at the National Astronomy Observatory of Japan, a team of international researchers has just released the most comprehensive images anyone has ever seen of the Milky Way's cold interstellar gas clouds where new stars and solar systems are being born.

We have heard the Mars exploration mantra for more than a decade: follow the water. In a new paper published October 9, 2015, in the journal Science, the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) team presents recent results of its quest to not just follow the water but to understand where it came from, and how long it lasted on the surface of Mars so long ago.