Space

You have a new galactic address; astronomers have determined that our own Milky Way galaxy is part of a newly identified enormous supercluster of galaxies - dubbed "Laniakea," which means "immense heaven" in Hawaiian.

This discovery broadens the boundaries of our galactic neighborhood and establishes previously unrecognized linkages among various galaxy clusters in the local Universe. How big are are talking? The Milky Way galaxy alone has 100 billion stars. We think. And then there are 1012 galaxies. So your address is now a lot bigger. Instead of being Earth, Sol, Orion arm, Milky Way, Local Group and Virgo cluster, you can now add Laniakea before Universe.




Observations made by the Kepler spacecraft have shown that Kepler-413b is a very wobbling exoplanet. The planet's orbit is unusual in that it is tilted 2.5 degrees with respect to the plane of the binary star's orbit.

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.