Browse Articles

  • Letter |

    The MASCOT lander observed a boulder on the surface of asteroid Ryugu up close. The boulder’s low thermal inertia is closer to fine regolith or comets rather than stony boulders, indicating high porosity and low tensile strength. Orbit measurements confirm that Ryugu’s surface is covered with similar boulders.

    • M. Grott
    • , J. Knollenberg
    • , M. Hamm
    • , K. Ogawa
    • , R. Jaumann
    • , K. A. Otto
    • , M. Delbo
    • , P. Michel
    • , J. Biele
    • , W. Neumann
    • , M. Knapmeyer
    • , E. Kührt
    • , H. Senshu
    • , T. Okada
    • , J. Helbert
    • , A. Maturilli
    • , N. Müller
    • , A. Hagermann
    • , N. Sakatani
    • , S. Tanaka
    • , T. Arai
    • , S. Mottola
    • , S. Tachibana
    • , I. Pelivan
    • , L. Drube
    • , J.-B. Vincent
    • , H. Yano
    • , C. Pilorget
    • , K. D. Matz
    • , N. Schmitz
    • , A. Koncz
    • , S. E. Schröder
    • , F. Trauthan
    • , M. Schlotterer
    • , C. Krause
    • , T.-M. Ho
    •  & A. Moussi-Soffys
  • Letter |

    Of the 72 known fast radio burst (FRB) sources only two have been observed to emit repeat bursts. By calculating the volumetric occurrence rate of non-repeating FRBs, Vikram Ravi shows that there are not enough candidate cataclysmic progenitor events for most FRBs to be one-off phenomena, and therefore most FRBs must repeat.

    • Vikram Ravi
  • Letter |

    A combination of laboratory experiments and numerical modelling shows that a 2–3 cm-thick layer of silica aerogel deployed over the temperate regions of Mars could maintain a surface environment conducive to liquid water all year round. Such an approach would create a habitable setting for photosynthetic life.

    • R. Wordsworth
    • , L. Kerber
    •  & C. Cockell
  • Letter |

    Combining gravitational-wave and electromagnetic data with new radio observations of GW170817, an improved measurement of $$H_0 = 70.3_{-5.0}^{+5.3}\, {\mathrm{km}}\, {\mathrm{s}}^{-1}\,{\mathrm{Mpc}}^{-1}$$ H 0 = 70 . 3 - 5.0 + 5.3 km s - 1 Mpc - 1 is derived. Fifteen more GW170817-like events with radio data could resolve the Hubble constant tension.

    • K. Hotokezaka
    • , E. Nakar
    • , O. Gottlieb
    • , S. Nissanke
    • , K. Masuda
    • , G. Hallinan
    • , K. P. Mooley
    •  & A. T. Deller
  • Article |

    Full cosmological hydrodynamical simulations employing modified gravity find that disk galaxies can form and their stellar properties are only mildly affected. Modified gravity leaves signatures on large-scale structure observable with the Square Kilometre Array.

    • Christian Arnold
    • , Matteo Leo
    •  & Baojiu Li
  • Article |

    Tamanini and Danielski show that LISA will be sensitive enough to detect (massive) exoplanets orbiting double white-dwarf systems using gravitational waves. This population of exoplanets cannot be probed by other means, and detections will reveal potentially significant numbers of planets in the Galaxy and Magellanic Clouds.

    • Nicola Tamanini
    •  & Camilla Danielski
  • Letter |

    The superbubble containing the Sun is filled with sparse, very hot matter. Creating a three-dimensional map of this Local Bubble using the diffuse interstellar bands (DIBs), Farhang et al. show that, surprisingly, two DIB carriers exist within the bubble itself. The λ5,780 DIB carrier, compared with λ5,797, is the hardier.

    • Amin Farhang
    • , Jacco Th. van Loon
    • , Habib G. Khosroshahi
    • , Atefeh Javadi
    •  & Mandy Bailey
  • Letter |

    The measurement of faint fluxes of photons from across the Universe requires sensitive terahertz detectors, cooled to minimize noise. By using a photomixer with plasmonics-based semiconductors to downconvert the high frequencies, terahertz detection can be accomplished at room temperature.

    • Ning Wang
    • , Semih Cakmakyapan
    • , Yen-Ju Lin
    • , Hamid Javadi
    •  & Mona Jarrahi
  • Letter |

    The Juno spacecraft’s observations of magnetic field perturbations in Jupiter’s polar regions show Birkeland currents associated with aurorae that are weaker than anticipated and filamentary in nature. An asymmetry is observed between the northern and southern auroras.

    • Stavros Kotsiaros
    • , John E. P. Connerney
    • , George Clark
    • , Frederic Allegrini
    • , G. Randall Gladstone
    • , William S. Kurth
    • , Barry H. Mauk
    • , Joachim Saur
    • , Emma J. Bunce
    • , Daniel J. Gershman
    • , Yasmina M. Martos
    • , Thomas K. Greathouse
    • , Scott J. Bolton
    •  & Steven M. Levin
  • News & Views |

    On its way to Jupiter in 1990, the Galileo spacecraft searched for signs of life on Earth, providing a set of control experiments that continue to inform our quest to detect extraterrestrial life.

    • Nathalie A. Cabrol
  • Matters Arising |

    • Larry R. Nittler
    • , Rhonda M. Stroud
    • , Josep M. Trigo-Rodríguez
    • , Bradley T. De Gregorio
    • , Conel M. O’D. Alexander
    • , Jemma Davidson
    • , Carles E. Moyano-Cambero
    •  & Safoura Tanbakouei
  • Comment |

    We all benefit when astronomy, and other sciences, are deconstructed and re-imagined in a different light to create activities accessible to all, independent of age, nationality, socioeconomic status, location, educational level, or mental or physical ability.

    • Mario A. De Leo-Winkler
  • Editorial |

    We publish in this issue our first Matters Arising, a new way for Nature Research journals to host a sound and peer-reviewed debate driven by the community on a stimulating (and maybe polarizing) topic presented in a published paper.

  • News & Views |

    Two landmark papers in the 1970s contributed strongly to establishing the importance of galaxy interactions and mergers in the formation and evolution of galaxies, using only gravity, and the ensuing dynamical friction.

    • E. Athanassoula
    •  & Albert Bosma
  • News & Views |

    Multivariate analysis of infrared hyperspectral images of the Saturnian satellite Titan reveals widespread ice-rich terrains in the tropics. They are related to a variety of contemporary or past geological processes.

    • Sylvain Douté
  • News & Views |

    Multi-technique analyses of a stardust grain from a CO nova outburst show that carbon- and oxygen-rich phases co-condensed in the stellar ejecta, confirming previous spectroscopy observations.

    • Reto Trappitsch
  • Letter |

    Theoretical modelling of velocity maps of high-redshift Lyman α emitters indicates sufficient gas inflow to fuel the central galaxy’s star-formation rate and angular momentum, implying that cold gas accretion is building galaxies at the peak of star formation.

    • D. Christopher Martin
    • , Donal O’Sullivan
    • , Mateusz Matuszewski
    • , Erika Hamden
    • , Avishai Dekel
    • , Sharon Lapiner
    • , Patrick Morrissey
    • , James D. Neill
    • , Sebastiano Cantalupo
    • , Jason Xavier Prochaska
    • , Charles Steidel
    • , Ryan Trainor
    • , Anna Moore
    • , Daniel Ceverino
    • , Joel Primack
    •  & Luca Rizzi
  • Perspective |

    ‘Oumuamua is the first interstellar interloper observed in our Solar System and studied in some detail. This Perspective reviews the data acquired during its visit and discusses its origin and properties, concluding that there is no basis to the theory of an artificial ‘Oumuamua.

    • Michele T. Bannister
    • , Asmita Bhandare
    • , Piotr A. Dybczyński
    • , Alan Fitzsimmons
    • , Aurélie Guilbert-Lepoutre
    • , Robert Jedicke
    • , Matthew M. Knight
    • , Karen J. Meech
    • , Andrew McNeill
    • , Susanne Pfalzner
    • , Sean N. Raymond
    • , Colin Snodgrass
    • , David E. Trilling
    •  & Quanzhi Ye
  • Meeting Report |

    Held in Bologna, Italy, in May 2019, the conference served to engage a wide community in the planning for this first open observatory in very-high-energy gamma rays, expected to start full operation in 2025.

    • S. Funk
    •  & J. A. Hinton
  • News & Views |

    Young galaxies are most effective at converting gas into stars. Intense accretion of fuel is required to keep galaxies growing, but these gas streams have largely eluded observations. New instruments at optical telescopes are now uncovering clues of their existence.

    • Michele Fumagalli
  • Letter |

    A comprehensive set of Hubble and Spitzer observations reveal a hydrogen-rich, low-metallicity atmosphere on the sub-Neptune exoplanet GJ 3470 b. Water vapour is detected, but the planet is surprisingly depleted in methane, possibly because of photochemical or thermal processes. Sub-millimetre-sized Mie-scattering cloud particles partially attenuate the molecular signatures at short wavelength, but are largely transparent beyond 3 µm.

    • Björn Benneke
    • , Heather A. Knutson
    • , Joshua Lothringer
    • , Ian J.M. Crossfield
    • , Julianne I. Moses
    • , Caroline Morley
    • , Laura Kreidberg
    • , Benjamin J. Fulton
    • , Diana Dragomir
    • , Andrew W. Howard
    • , Ian Wong
    • , Jean-Michel Désert
    • , Peter R. McCullough
    • , Eliza M.-R. Kempton
    • , Jonathan Fortney
    • , Ronald Gilliland
    • , Drake Deming
    •  & Joshua Kammer
  • Letter |

    Contractional features such as scarps, ridges and fractures from thrust faults are typical of large silicate bodies such as Mercury and Mars. Evidence for similar features on Ceres suggests the possibility of large-scale contraction on this icy body.

    • Javier Ruiz
    • , Alberto Jiménez-Díaz
    • , Federico Mansilla
    • , Laura M. Parro
    • , Isabel Egea-González
    •  & Michael Küppers
  • Letter |

    The uniformly high 13C/12C ratios of the Tagish Lake meteorite, whose parent body is a D-type asteroid, indicate that at least some D-type asteroids were formed in the cold outer Solar System from a 13C-rich CO2 ice reservoir and subsequently migrated inwards.

    • W. Fujiya
    • , P. Hoppe
    • , T. Ushikubo
    • , K. Fukuda
    • , P. Lindgren
    • , M. R. Lee
    • , M. Koike
    • , K. Shirai
    •  & Y. Sano
  • Letter |

    The predominantly prograde orientation and broad inclination distribution of trans-Neptunian binary objects is reproduced by a three-dimensional hydrodynamical simulation of planetesimal formation driven by the streaming instability, showing evidence of the activation of the streaming instability in the solar protoplanetary disk.

    • David Nesvorný
    • , Rixin Li
    • , Andrew N. Youdin
    • , Jacob B. Simon
    •  & William M. Grundy
  • Letter |

    All trans-Neptunian objects larger than 1,000 km have satellites. A hydrodynamic simulation shows that such satellites were formed by giant impacts that happened before the migration of Neptune and that kept the satellites in a fluid-like state for 104–106 yr.

    • Sota Arakawa
    • , Ryuki Hyodo
    •  & Hidenori Genda
  • Article |

    Fragkou et al. present multiple pieces of evidence for the association of planetary nebula BMP J1613-5406 with Galactic open star cluster NGC 6067. Stars in the cluster evolve off the main sequence at about 5 solar masses, suggesting that this planetary nebula had a massive progenitor and supporting theoretical predictions of the mass range of planetary nebula progenitors.

    • V. Fragkou
    • , Q. A. Parker
    • , A. A. Zijlstra
    • , L. Crause
    •  & H. Barker
  • Letter |

    A unique merger shock is found in an early phase of two clusters undergoing a major merger, propagating outward along the equatorial plane of the merger. Owing to the rapid approach of the cluster pair, the gas along the merger axis is strongly compressed.

    • Liyi Gu
    • , Hiroki Akamatsu
    • , Timothy W. Shimwell
    • , Huib T. Intema
    • , Reinout J. van Weeren
    • , Francesco de Gasperin
    • , François Mernier
    • , Junjie Mao
    • , Igone Urdampilleta
    • , Jelle de Plaa
    • , Viral Parekh
    • , Huub J. A. Röttgering
    •  & Jelle S. Kaastra
  • News & Views |

    Extremely deep observations of the Coma galaxy cluster with the Chandra X-ray Observatory have found that the gas between galaxies, where the vast majority of the baryons lie, is far less viscous than expected.

    • Stephen A. Walker
  • Letter |

    X-ray observations of the Coma Cluster show enhanced plasma collision rates due to either particle scattering off microfluctuations caused by plasma instabilities or transport processes that are anisotropic with respect to the local magnetic field.

    • I. Zhuravleva
    • , E. Churazov
    • , A. A. Schekochihin
    • , S. W. Allen
    • , A. Vikhlinin
    •  & N. Werner
  • Article |

    A stacked series of lithographed polymer disks could provide a lightweight and modular optics system for a future hard X-ray telescope, retaining the angular resolution of current telescopes, but improving on effective area.

    • Wujun Mi
    • , Peter Nillius
    • , Mark Pearce
    •  & Mats Danielsson
  • Article |

    The velocity gradient technique is used to measure the magnetic field orientations and magnetization of five low-mass star-forming molecular clouds, also finding that collapsing regions constitute a small fraction of the volume in these clouds.

    • Yue Hu
    • , Ka Ho Yuen
    • , Victor Lazarian
    • , Ka Wai Ho
    • , Robert A. Benjamin
    • , Alex S. Hill
    • , Felix J. Lockman
    • , Paul F. Goldsmith
    •  & Alex Lazarian
  • News & Views |

    The interstellar medium in our Galaxy is threaded by magnetic fields. A new method of inferring magnetic field directions from spectroscopic measurements of this turbulent medium provides insight into the role of these magnetic fields in molecular cloud formation and evolution.

    • Kate Pattle
  • Letter |

    A minor but important fraction of silicate stardust believed to come from red giant stars is shown to have a supernova origin instead, making the supernova dust fraction among >200-nm-sized presolar silicates significantly higher than previously inferred.

    • Jan Leitner
    •  & Peter Hoppe
  • Letter |

    An exceptionally low delay of 83 minutes between variability in the accretion disk and Hα emission is reported from the nucleus of the dwarf galaxy NGC 4395. The implied black hole mass of about 10,000 solar masses is consistent with the mass–velocity dispersion relation.

    • Jong-Hak Woo
    • , Hojin Cho
    • , Elena Gallo
    • , Edmund Hodges-Kluck
    • , Huynh Anh N. Le
    • , Jaejin Shin
    • , Donghoon Son
    •  & John C. Horst
  • News & Views |

    The report of a 10,000 solar mass black hole in a dwarf galaxy provides new clues about how supermassive black holes form and grow with their host galaxies.

    • Michael Fausnaugh
  • Perspective |

    The future of Solar System exploration lies in the subsurface of rocky bodies, including planets. Robots provide a relatively cost-effective and safe method of probing the subsurface; this Perspective summarizes recent efforts in robotic drilling and regolith-sampling methods, concluding with a summary of China’s future space exploration plans.

    • Tao Zhang
    • , Kun Xu
    • , Zhixiao Yao
    • , Xilun Ding
    • , Zeng Zhao
    • , Xuyan Hou
    • , Yong Pang
    • , Xiaoming Lai
    • , Wenming Zhang
    • , Shuting Liu
    •  & Jianfeng Deng
  • Editorial |

    Renewed investment in lunar exploration (and beyond) will benefit basic research and applied science, but we need to tread carefully in order to prevent the exploitation of extraterrestrial resources.

  • News & Views |

    Although dark matter cannot be seen, it can be studied by the gravitational effect of dark objects on the light from background stars. New observations of the nearby Andromeda galaxy probe the possibility that the dark matter could be small black holes.

    • Bernard J. Carr
  • Mission Control |

    The 4-metre Multi-Object Spectroscopic Telescope (4MOST) is a versatile optical survey instrument that will be installed on the VISTA telescope in 2022, offering medium- and high-resolution spectra and an innovative operations mode, explains Principal Investigator Roelof de Jong on behalf of the 4MOST Consortium.

    • Roelof S. de Jong
  • Comment |

    Although a major objective in Mars exploration is the search for life, there are many scenarios that could lead to the recovery of lifeless samples. What could lifeless samples tell us about Mars and its habitability?

    • Charles S. Cockell
    •  & Sean McMahon
  • Letter |

    Two Hα emission peaks are detected within the disk of the T Tauri star PDS 70: one corresponds to protoplanet PDS 70 b, and the other is associated with a second accreting planet of few Jupiter masses at ~35 au. The two protoplanets are near 2:1 mean motion resonance, supporting migration scenarios of giant planets during planetary formation.

    • S. Y. Haffert
    • , A. J. Bohn
    • , J. de Boer
    • , I. A. G. Snellen
    • , J. Brinchmann
    • , J. H. Girard
    • , C. U. Keller
    •  & R. Bacon