News & Views

  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • News & Views |

    The first detection of emission from carbon monoxide molecules in a circumstellar envelope delivered a tool for estimating numerous physical characteristics of evolved stars, not least the amount of gas and dust they return to the interstellar medium of a galaxy.

    • Hans Olofsson
  • News & Views |

    The stellar initial mass function (IMF) is the key to understanding the matter cycle in the Universe. Edwin Salpeter’s paper of 1955 founded this research field. Evidence today, however, challenges the initial mass function as an invariant probability distribution function.

    • Pavel Kroupa
    •  & Tereza Jerabkova
  • News & Views |

    After 30 years of searching, the helium hydride ion, the first chemical bond that was formed in the Universe, has finally been detected outside the laboratory, in the interstellar medium. It was seen in planetary nebula NGC 7027 using the GREAT spectrometer aboard the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy.

    • Stephen Lepp
  • News & Views |

    While the measurements of the Hubble constant from the local distance ladder and the cosmic microwave background radiation appear to disagree, given a sufficient number of localized detections, gravitational waves may possibly shed light on the tension.

    • Hsin-Yu Chen
  • News & Views |

    Measurement of the diffraction pattern of starlight during an asteroid occultation opens up new territory in stellar angular size determinations.

    • Gerard T. van Belle
  • News & Views |

    In 1951, three separate research groups established radio astronomy as a contender to the dominance of optical astronomy. Using the interstellar 21-cm line, they provided a method to look deeper into our own Galaxy and back in time to the birth of all galaxies.

    • Emma Chapman
  • News & Views |

    The winds from growing supermassive black holes appear to be located tens of parsecs from the centres of their host galaxies. This location fits with the idea that these outflows influence the progression of star formation.

    • Sarah C. Gallagher
  • News & Views |

    Since the discovery of the first repeating fast radio burst in 2016, debate has raged over whether it represented a distinct population. With the recent detection of a second repeater using CHIME, the debate is closer to being settled.

    • Emily Petroff
  • News & Views |

    Recent observations with the Gaia satellite have confirmed that the cores of cooling white dwarf stars undergo crystallization, as predicted half a century ago.

    • Hugh M. Van Horn
  • News & Views |

    Microphotonic frequency combs are chip-based light sources, until now confined to optics laboratories. Improved stabilities usher these devices out of the lab and into high-resolution astronomic spectrometer systems.

    • Piotr Roztocki
    •  & Roberto Morandotti
  • News & Views |

    Astronomers around the world are keen and confident public communicators, with academic leaders in senior positions being the most active. They enjoy engaging with the public, with no rewards expected.

    • Marina Joubert
  • News & Views |

    The degree of polarization of gamma-ray bursts seems to be lower than previously thought. Gamma-ray polarimetry can reveal the emission mechanism and physical information inside the relativistic jet.

    • Daisuke Yonetoku
  • News & Views |

    Volcanic domes are common in our Solar System but so far only one has been identified on dwarf planet Ceres. New research suggests that numerous volcanic domes may have formed throughout Ceres’s history, indicating that cryovolcanism may have once been more common on the dwarf planet.

    • Lynnae C. Quick
  • News & Views |

    A model of the optical light detected following the merger of two neutron stars reveals polarization to be a unique probe of the geometry of the kilonova explosion that accompanied the gravitational waves.

    • Douglas C. Leonard
  • News & Views |

    The stunning discovery image of the spiral dust plumes enshrouding a Wolf–Rayet binary system dubbed Apep provides new trails of evidence that may bring us closer to resolving outstanding questions on the evolution and death of massive stars.

    • Ryan M. Lau
  • News & Views |

    An ultrahigh-energy neutrino event detected with the IceCube detector in Antarctica, simultaneous and co-spatial with a multi-wavelength outburst of a blazar about 3 billion light years away, points unambiguously to lepto-hadronic cooling mechanisms in jetted active galactic nuclei.

    • Elena Pian
  • News & Views |

    Contrary to usual assumptions, new astronomical observations suggest that dark matter may be self-interacting. If true this would rule out most popular dark matter particle candidates, including supersymmetric neutralinos, axions and sterile neutrinos, as well as black holes.

    • Subir Sarkar
  • News & Views |

    The existence of a unique binary object captured in the Jovian Trojan population requires an early migration of the giant planets.

    • Rosemary Pike
  • News & Views |

    Large cosmological datasets have been probing the properties of our Universe and constraining the parameters of dark matter and dark energy with increasing precision. Deep learning techniques have shown potential to be smarter than — and greatly outperform — human-designed statistics.

    • Zoltán Haiman
  • News & Views |

    The study of the early stages of galaxy cluster formation and their evolutionary path is critical for testing our structure-formation models and cosmological paradigm. Recent observations have pushed the detection of ‘protoclusters’ further back in time.

    • Piero Rosati
  • News & Views |

    Observations with a continent-wide array of radio telescopes show that the merger of two neutron stars, which produced gravitational waves, successfully launched a very fast and highly collimated jet.

    • Alexander J. van der Horst
  • News & Views |

    • Marios Karouzos
  • News & Views |

    The positions and motions of galaxies are dictated by the laws of gravity. A new technique to measure the anisotropy in the three-dimensional redshift distribution of galaxies seriously challenges attempts to go beyond Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

    • Federico Bianchini
  • News & Views |

    The Andromeda galaxy’s stellar halo and disk show signs of an active recent merger history. Recent work suggests that most of the disturbances in Andromeda’s disk and the inner halo may be due to a single merger event.

    • Karoline M. Gilbert
  • News & Views |

    Dark matter is deemed essential for describing galaxy dynamics. A prominent alternative theory can make the same predictions without dark matter, by introducing a universal acceleration constant. Recent high-quality observations of galaxies are used to investigate whether this constant is really a constant.

    • W. J. G. de Blok
  • News & Views |

    A magnetic reconnection event within Saturn’s magnetosphere, captured by Cassini at an unexpected site, may reshape our views on how internally produced plasma is circulated in giant planet magnetospheres.

    • Elias Roussos
  • News & Views |

    A new model predicts locations on the surface of radiation-blasted Europa, the ocean moon of Jupiter, where biochemical signatures of life emergent from the subsurface ocean might survive long enough for detection on the moon’s changing surface.

    • John F. Cooper
  • News & Views |

    New analyses show that most asteroids, nowadays residing in the main belt between Mars and Jupiter, could have originated from collisional events that have broken apart a few large parent bodies.

    • Bojan Novaković
  • News & Views |

    An exoplanet as hot as a star challenges our understanding of how planets evolve under extreme conditions. Observations with the CARMENES spectrograph provide clues about the atmospheric properties of this outstanding planet.

    • David Ehrenreich
  • News & Views |

    Recent polarization measurements of the stellar-mass black hole in Cygnus X-1 reveal an extended corona in the inner parts of the accretion flow and open the path for a new era in high-energy astrophysics.

    • Julien Malzac