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Pluto displays a remarkable variety of geological processes, many of which are unique. Features captured by New Horizons include jagged mountain peaks abutting both a large putative icy volcanic structure (∼4 km high and 150 km across) and smoother nitrogen ice plains.
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.
The Event Horizon Telescope, an Earth-sized interferometer, aims to capture an image of a black hole’s event horizon to test the theory of general relativity and probe accretion processes, explains project director Shep Doeleman.
The first extraterrestrial detections of a member of the organohalogen family of molecules have been made towards comet Churyumov–Gerasimenko and low-mass protostar IRAS 16293-2422. Chloromethane, considered to be a biomarker, can form efficiently abiotically.
Although predicted 50 years ago, the polarization of light from a rotationally distorted stellar atmosphere has only recently been detected, thanks to polarimetry measurements with precision at the parts-per-million level.
The New Horizons spacecraft performed a flyby of Pluto and its system in July 2015, providing more than 50 Gb of high-resolution images and data that transformed our view and understanding of the dwarf planet. This Review summarizes its main discoveries.
Radio astronomy will be transformed by future surveys that will study tens of millions of radio sources, providing new insights into a broad range of open questions in astronomy. This transformation, and the lead-up to it, is summarized in this Review.
The material surrounding accreting supermassive black holes connects them with their hosts. From studies in the infrared and X-rays, the structure of this material is found to be complex, clumpy and dynamic.
The polarization resulting from electron scattering in a stellar atmosphere has been detected towards the rapidly spinning star Regulus. Deformation of the star from spherical allows this effect to be seen, fulfilling a prediction from around 50 years ago.
A tight correlation between gamma rays and optical emission in nova ASASSN-16ma indicates that the optical light comes from reprocessed emission from shocks in the ejecta, rather than an energy release near the hot white dwarf, as in the standard model.
Chloromethane (CH3Cl) has been observed towards a low-mass protostar and comet 67P, making it the first organohalogen detected in space. The species was previously considered to be a biomarker, but the authors suggest viable alternative abiotic formation routes.
A candidate intermediate-mass black hole is reported within a molecular cloud near Sgr A*, the centre of our Galaxy. High-resolution observations with ALMA reveal extreme gas kinematics and a compact source consistent with a quiescent black hole.
The authors present a spectrophotometric and hydrodynamical study of supernova OGLE-2014-SN-073, which had remarkably high inferred ejecta mass and energy, potentially higher than can be explained with canonical core-collapse neutrino-driven explosions.
Experiments are presented that indicate that methane can be produced abiotically on Mars through the photocatalytic reaction of CO2, in a process called methanogenesis. Methane can then be shocked (through impacts) to form RNA nucleobases and glycine.
A candidate dual supermassive black hole system with a projected separation of 0.35 pc is found in the gas-rich interacting spiral galaxy NGC 7674, evidenced by a ∼0.7 kpc Z-shaped radio jet and two, possibly inverted-spectrum, compact radio cores.