Sibling rivalries among planets can turn deadly. Families of worlds huddled close to their stars might destroy one another, leaving behind just one or two planets after the carnage. These family feuds probably erupt in planetary systems that form much differently than our own, though it’s possible our solar system suffered similar growing pains.Many multiplanet systems discovered by the Kepler...
02/27/2015 - 12:39
An enigmatic bright patch on the dwarf planet Ceres, the largest body between Mars and Jupiter, has a dimmer companion in the same basin. The duo, seen in an image from the Dawn spacecraft when it was about 46,000 kilometers from Ceres, could be a sign of...
02/26/2015 - 14:45
When the universe was young, some black holes were terribly greedy. One of these black holes gobbled the mass of 12 billion suns by the time the universe was only about 860 million years old. This monster is the most massive known black hole in the early universe, clocking in at roughly six times as massive as other black holes from its time, researchers...
02/25/2015 - 13:00
Letters to the Editor
Water’s origin storyNew evidence suggests that comets may not have delivered water to Earth. Water detected in comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko’s hazy atmosphere isn’t a chemical match for Earth’s oceans, as Ashley Yeager reported in “Ocean water may not be from comets” (...
02/25/2015 - 10:30
Earth, Planetary Science
Reviews & Previews
Ocean Worlds: The Story of Seas on Earth and Other PlanetsJan Zalasiewicz and Mark WilliamsOxford Univ., $29.95The oceans of other worlds might look nothing...
02/24/2015 - 09:00
Oceans, Planetary Science
50 Years Ago
Outer space on Earth — In an effort to foresee as many as possible of the problems of space travel, man is building a vast array of strange testing devices, designed to create at least part of the feeling of space…. Experiments have been undertaken in places ranging from the bottom of the ocean (which simulates low gravity) to a rocket-powered vibration machine…. The toughest...
02/19/2015 - 16:30
Planetary Science, Astronomy
The pictures may not be pretty, but the New Horizons spacecraft just got its first peek at two more of Pluto’s moons, Nix and Hydra, just in time for the 85th anniversary of Pluto’s discovery. The probe, scheduled to fly by Pluto on July 14, took the pictures while roughly 190 million kilometers from the dwarf planet...
02/19/2015 - 13:16
A new analysis of the universe’s first light has cosmologists simultaneously patting themselves on the back and scratching on their chalkboards. The results, obtained from the Planck satellite and posted online in February in a set of papers at arXiv.org, largely support the theoretical framework that cosmologists employ to describe the universe....
02/19/2015 - 08:00
The Dawn spacecraft has snapped the most detailed photos to date of the dwarf planet Ceres. Craters and mysterious bright patches dot the landscape in a pair of images taken February 12 when Dawn was just 83,000 kilometers from Ceres, the largest body in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter....
02/18/2015 - 12:45
Most stars keep their distance from the sun. Scholz’s star, about 20 light-years away in the constellation Monoceros, is an exception. Roughly 70,000 years ago, the binary star system came within about 0.8 light-years of the sun, researchers report in the February 12 Astrophysical Journal Letters. It’s the closest known flyby...
02/17/2015 - 17:03
Astronomy, Planetary Science