News & Comment

  • Meeting Report |

    The European Astronomical Society (EAS) awarded its most prestigious prizes during its annual meeting, the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science (EWASS), held in Liverpool from 3 April to 6 April 2018.

    • Georges Meylan
  • Mission Control |

    After 60 years of technological and materials development, in August this year the Parker Solar Probe set off on its journey to skim the atmosphere of the Sun. Mission Scientist Adam Szabo summarizes this ambitious adventure.

    • Adam Szabo
  • Mission Control |

    HaloSat, NASA’s first astrophysics-focused CubeSat mission — the size of a small briefcase — will survey the Milky Way’s halo in order to assess its complement of hot baryons, explains Principal Investigator Philip Kaaret.

    • Philip Kaaret
  • Comment |

    The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan has been working to increase public familiarity with astronomy. Here we introduce our outreach activities, including the development of interactive tools that make NAOJ data visible to the public.

    • Kumiko Usuda-Sato
    • , Hiroko Tsuzuki
    •  & Hitoshi Yamaoka
  • 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.

  • Comment |

    Understanding how and why star formation turns off in massive galaxies is a major challenge for studies of galaxy evolution. Many theoretical explanations have been proposed, but a definitive consensus is yet to be reached.

    • Allison Man
    •  & Sirio Belli
  • 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
  • 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?

  • 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
  • Comment |

    The next-generation observatory Lynx will provide an unprecedented X-ray view of the otherwise invisible Universe, directly observing the dawn of supermassive black holes, revealing the drivers of galaxy formation, tracing stellar activity including effects on planet habitability, and transforming our knowledge of the endpoints of stellar evolution.

    • Feryal Özel
  • Meeting Report |

    The biennial Harvard Sackler conference this year focused on gravitational-wave astrophysics, with a comprehensive programme that reviewed recent discoveries and discussed prospects for a bright future.

    • Lisa Barsotti
  • Comment |

    LUVOIR is a concept for a powerful, flexible space observatory to enable the first survey for exoplanets most similar to the Earth, search for signs of life in our Solar System and beyond, and revolutionize astrophysics in the twenty-first century.

    • Aki Roberge
    •  & Leonidas A. Moustakas
  • Meeting Report |

    Fifty-one years after Lyman-alpha lines were predicted (and 20 years after this author got involved in searching for Lyman-alpha galaxies), it was a pleasure to see so much progress in this field in the Spring Cosmic Lyman-Alpha Workshop at Tokyo University.

    • Sangeeta Malhotra
  • 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
  • Comment |

    The Habitable Exoplanet Observatory (HabEx) is a conceptual space-based 4-m telescope with the means to image and characterize potentially habitable planets orbiting Sun-like stars, and with ultraviolet to near-infrared imaging and spectroscopic capabilities suited to general observatory science.

    • B. Scott Gaudi
    • , Sara Seager
    • , Bertrand Mennesson
    • , Alina Kiessling
    • , Keith R. Warfield
    • , Kerri Cahoy
    • , John T. Clarke
    • , Shawn Domagal-Goldman
    • , Lee Feinberg
    • , Olivier Guyon
    • , N. Jeremy Kasdin
    • , Dimitri Mawet
    • , Peter Plavchan
    • , Tyler Robinson
    • , Leslie Rogers
    • , Paul Scowen
    • , Rachel Somerville
    • , Karl Stapelfeldt
    • , Chris Stark
    • , Daniel Stern
    •  & Margaret Turnbull
  • Comment |

    The Origins Space Telescope, one of four large Mission Concept Studies sponsored by NASA for review in the 2020 US Astrophysics Decadal Survey, will open unprecedented discovery space in the infrared, unveiling our cosmic origins.

    • Cara Battersby
    • , Lee Armus
    • , Edwin Bergin
    • , Tiffany Kataria
    • , Margaret Meixner
    • , Alexandra Pope
    • , Kevin B. Stevenson
    • , Asantha Cooray
    • , David Leisawitz
    • , Douglas Scott
    • , James Bauer
    • , C. Matt Bradford
    • , Kimberly Ennico
    • , Jonathan J. Fortney
    • , Lisa Kaltenegger
    • , Gary J. Melnick
    • , Stefanie N. Milam
    • , Desika Narayanan
    • , Deborah Padgett
    • , Klaus Pontoppidan
    • , Thomas Roellig
    • , Karin Sandstrom
    • , Kate Y. L. Su
    • , Joaquin Vieira
    • , Edward Wright
    • , Jonas Zmuidzinas
    • , Johannes Staguhn
    • , Kartik Sheth
    • , Dominic Benford
    • , Eric E. Mamajek
    • , Susan G. Neff
    • , Sean Carey
    • , Denis Burgarella
    • , Elvire De Beck
    • , Maryvonne Gerin
    • , Frank P. Helmich
    • , S. Harvey Moseley
    • , Itsuki Sakon
    •  & Martina C. Wiedner
  • 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
  • Meeting Report |

    A diverse group of science communicators from around the world came together in Fukuoka, Japan to discuss outreach strategies in a post-factual society, methods to improve inclusion, best practices for communicating within international collaborations and resources to benefit localized organizations.

    • Amanda E. Bauer
    • , Samir Dhurde
    •  & Olayinka Fagbemiro
  • Comment |

    Since 2013, the International Astronomical Union’s Office of Astronomy for Development has been funding and nurturing astronomy-for-development projects across the globe. In Africa, these projects aim to use astronomy to stimulate educational, technological and socioeconomic development.

    • Vanessa McBride
    • , Ramasamy Venugopal
    • , Munira Hoosain
    • , Tawanda Chingozha
    •  & Kevin Govender
  • Comment |

    The Development in Africa with Radio Astronomy (DARA) project, a joint venture between the UK, South Africa and African partner nations, aims to provide development, education, training and careers advice to Africans through radio astronomy and related technical disciplines.

    • Melvin G. Hoare
  • Editorial |

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

  • Mission Control |

    The HESS array in Namibia waits for a split-second flash of blue light — Cherenkov radiation — that signals an atmospheric shower of charged particles caused by cosmic rays, explains Director Mathieu de Naurois.

    • Mathieu de Naurois
  • Comment |

    The development of astronomy and space science in Africa has grown significantly over the past few years. These advancements make the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals more achievable, and open up the possibility of new beneficial collaborations.

    • Mirjana Pović
    • , Michael Backes
    • , Paul Baki
    • , David Baratoux
    • , Solomon Belay Tessema
    • , Zouhair Benkhaldoun
    • , Michael Bode
    • , Nana A. Browne Klutse
    • , Phil Charles
    • , Kevin Govender
    • , Ernst van Groningen
    • , Edward Jurua
    • , Alemiye Mamo
    • , Sivuyile Manxoyi
    • , Vanessa McBride
    • , Jamal Mimouni
    • , Takalani Nemaungani
    • , Pheneas Nkundabakura
    • , Bonaventure Okere
    • , Somaya Saad
    • , Prospery C. Simpemba
    • , Tefera Walwa
    •  & Abdissa Yilma
  • Mission Control |

    A powerful new radio telescope will improve our understanding of galaxy formation and evolution, and other key questions in astrophysics, says Fernando Camilo, on behalf of the MeerKAT team.

    • Fernando Camilo
  • Meeting Report |

    ‘Why is there a black hole where women should be?’ asked Member of Parliament Chi Onwurah during her plenary talk on women in science at EWASS 2018. Gender equity was among a variety of topics discussed in a day-long Special Session.

    • Helen E. Jermak
    • , Sara Lucatello
    •  & Paul Woods
  • 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
  • News & Views |

    The Juno spacecraft has detected unprecedented numbers of ‘whistlers’ and ‘sferics’ in its orbits around Jupiter, both indications of high lightning flash rates in the atmosphere of the gas giant planet.

    • Jacob Bortnik