Editorials

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  • Editorial |

    Quantitative estimates presented in this issue demonstrate that astronomers contribute more to climate change than the average global citizen. Concerted actions are needed to reduce the ecological impacts of our occupation.

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    Before its demise, the Dawn spacecraft performed a series of low passes over the bright spots of dwarf planet Ceres. These high-resolution data highlight the nature of Ceres as an active ocean world with unique characteristics.

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    The practice of peer review has only become commonplace fairly recently, and as such is continually undergoing revision. The latest progress has focused on reducing the load on those performing this community service and also reducing bias to ensure a fairer system for all.

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    On the anniversary of ROSAT’s launch, we reflect on the relevance and promise of X-ray observations in all fields of astronomy. Properly laying out a plan for the future of the field will allow it to continue flourishing.

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    We are living in exceptional circumstances. It is not business as usual. There is no script, and where we end up after the global pandemic is partly up to us.

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    The Spitzer Space Telescope recently ceased operations, powering down its remaining detector after more than a decade and a half of revealing the infrared Universe. Its legacy will be continued by far more expensive missions that will have big boots to fill.

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    Staff across 74 UK universities are striking because pay and working conditions are eroding, and changes to the pension scheme mean that workers fear they are paying in more money for fewer benefits without good reason. More clarity is needed.

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    The recent suite of ground and space observatories bring solar physics into the twenty-first century. Solar Orbiter, due to launch this month, will observe the polar regions from up close, which is essential for understanding the magnetic field of the Sun.

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    Planets and their systems have long held the spotlight, but researchers, space agencies and even the private sector and the public have turned their attention to small bodies.

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    Diversity of thought and perspective fosters innovation and productivity. Equity is an ethical imperative. There is plenty of scope to improve both diversity and equity in our field and this issue’s Focus puts the spotlight on actions today for a more inclusive tomorrow.

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    As Nature turns 150, we look back on its close connection to the Nobel Prize in Physics and some of the most epoch-defining papers in astronomy.

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    What’s in a name? Would a super-Earth by any other name smell as sweet? It should, but maybe it wouldn’t get as many clicks.

  • Editorial |

    Nature Astronomy is uniquely positioned to publish a variety of excellent scientific research alongside commentary, opinion and editorial content on the topics that matter most to the astronomy and planetary science communities. We are committed to promoting diversity in peer review and the voices we feature.

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    With a growing coverage of the night sky, the quantity and quality of transient event detections is booming. In this issue, our Focus looks particularly at observations of different types of supernovae and the need for a classification scheme that can systematically accommodate the diversity of stellar explosions and progenitors.

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    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.

  • 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.

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    The stunning picture of a black hole shadow that was released by the Event Horizon Telescope highlights the power of collaborative projects, as no single person, telescope or nation could have captured such an image.

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    NASA’s spacecraft OSIRIS-REx is planning to bring back a sample from a near-Earth asteroid in 2023, and it has just delivered its first scientific results. It is only one of the projects from various space agencies that will put small bodies and sample return into the spotlight in the upcoming decade.

  • Editorial |

    Since the field’s inception, the study of active galactic nuclei has been central to extragalactic astronomy. The plurality of ways in which these objects can be observed and their numerous links to other fields of astronomy maintain their continued relevance.

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    The International Astronomical Union celebrates its centenary this year, with a membership that is increasing in diversity and working towards inclusion.

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    Black holes have the distinct honour of being the most popular and potentially the least well-understood objects in the Universe. This issue’s Insight explores how far black hole research has come since its inception, though it still has a long way to go.

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    Peer review lies at the heart of our journal. Recognizing our reviewers publicly will introduce transparency to the editorial process as well as acknowledge the work of our reviewers.

  • Editorial |

    We celebrate four of the most inspirational role models pushing for diversity among astronomers.

  • Editorial |

    Exoplanetary science is one of the most rapidly developing fields in astronomy and has great near- and medium-term prospects, but various challenges can hinder its growth. The community needs to be prepared to discuss them constructively and openly without spiralling into infighting.

  • Editorial |

    The 2020 US Decadal Survey for Astrophysics is almost here — but in these years of flat cash and major mission delays, how much can we afford to dream?

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    The relatively dark sky over Africa and the continent’s rich human resources are a boon for the growing development initiatives driven by astronomy.

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    With moons holding subsurface oceans, the outer planets are back in focus as the most promising places to find life beyond Earth. In addition to future missions, ongoing data analysis from past missions has an important role to play.

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    In the age of huge telescopes involving many wealthy nations, we mustn’t overlook regional telescopes that help countries address their specific development needs.

  • Editorial |

    The proposed NASA budget promotes space exploration over science, and planetary science over astrophysics. This decision has the potential to cause strife between scientists, who have to work together to find a solution.

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    Galaxies hosting actively accreting supermassive black holes make up roughly 10% of all galaxies in the Universe. Nevertheless, due to their immense energy output, active galactic nuclei are widely regarded as regulators of their host galaxy growth. But does observational evidence stack up?

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    More and more private money is pouring into astronomical research and space exploration, and it's not all hype.

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    As a newcomer to the community, Nature Astronomy covered regional and international scientific and societal issues, discoveries and advances in its first year. We anticipate an equally if not more exciting year to come.

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    What started 50 years ago as a ‘smudge’ on paper has flourished into a fundamental field of astrophysics replete with unexpected applications and exciting discoveries. To celebrate the discovery of pulsars, we look at the past, present and future of pulsar astrophysics.

  • Editorial |

    It’s finally happened. With the first detection of a neutron star merger by LIGO and Virgo, astronomers have at long last begun the exploration of multi-messenger gravitational-wave astrophysics.

  • Editorial |

    Our inventory of the molecular universe is continually progressing. Our understanding of the astrochemistry behind it will flourish if we are mindful of funding experimental and theoretical efforts as well as observational.

  • Editorial |

    Cassini has been a pinnacle of our quest for the understanding of the space around us. Its end symbolically marks the beginning of a period of relative dearth for Solar System exploration, but planetary science won’t stop thriving.

  • Editorial |

    On 21 August, for those lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, nothing will happen for a few blissful minutes, and it will mean everything.

  • Editorial |

    With six months behind us, we would like to thank everyone who has submitted a paper, written for us or refereed for us. We take this opportunity to clarify our policies and quell some enduring misconceptions.

  • Editorial |

    Data show that women astronomers face discrimination at all stages of their careers. To ensure true diversity of ideas, everyone, but especially those with privilege, must do something about it.

  • Editorial |

    Scientists are beyond concerned. We are angry about the cuts to fundamental research and the decline in scientific literacy among politicians. But protesting isn't everything — we also need to adapt to change and engage with the public.

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    Twenty-five years ago, the detection of the first extrasolar planets opened up an area of research that has fascinated both researchers and the general public alike.

  • Editorial |

    We think dark matter exists because measurements of ‘normal’ matter would not otherwise make sense. In this Insight on dark matter — offered jointly by Nature Astronomy and Nature Physics — we showcase the various techniques trying to make sense of it.

  • Editorial |

    Exoplanetary science warns us against the use of improper terminology, which increases the risk of new discoveries being misinterpreted by researchers as well as the general public. Both the scientific community and journal editors can help to avoid this significant danger.

  • Editorial |

    Astronomers, astrophysicists and planetary scientists are global citizens who transcend political boundaries. Nature Astronomy supports a strong, open community with common interests.