Many of us care deeply about the possibility of tigers, lemurs and such like becoming extinct in the wild. I'd like to suggest that we care as much about the possibility of microbes on Mars and elsewhere in our solar system becoming extinct through human activities.

Astrophysicists have detected the formation of radioactive cobalt during a supernova explosion, lending credence to a corresponding theory of supernova explosions. 

The article's main author, Yevgeny Churazov (Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences), and  co-authors, including Sergei Sazonov of the Space Research Institute and MIPT, reported the results of their analysis of data collected with the INTEGRAL gamma-ray orbital telescope, which they used to detect the radioactive isotope cobalt-56(56Co).

There are some massive galaxies out there, and we now know a little about their early life.Credit: Lauro Roger McAllister/Flickr, CC BY

By Edward Taylor, University of Melbourne

A piece of the galaxy formation puzzle may have fallen into place, thanks to a team of European and American astronomers peering into the depths of our early universe.

Astronomers have caught a glimpse of the earliest stages of massive galaxy construction - a dense galactic core blazing with the light of millions of newborn stars that are forming at a ferocious rate.

A fully developed elliptical galaxy is a gas-deficient gathering of ancient stars theorized to develop from the inside out, with a compact core marking its beginnings. Because the galactic core is so far away, the light of the forming galaxy that is observable from Earth was actually created 11 billion years ago, just 3 billion years after the Big Bang.

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.