Volume 1 Issue 9 September 2017

Volume 1 Issue 9

The Cassini mission has revolutionized our understanding of the Saturn system. This pencil illustration depicts Cassini diving towards Saturn—for one of the last times—as part of the Grand Finale mission. The Cassini mission will end its 20-year odyssey of exploration by plunging into Saturn's atmosphere on September 15th, 2017.

Image: James Tuttle Keane, California Institute of Technology


  • 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.

Comment and Opinion

  • Meeting Report |

    The European Astronomical Society awarded its most prestigious prizes during the annual European Week of Astronomy and Space Science, held in Prague from 26–30 June 2017.

    • Georges Meylan
  • Mission Control |

    The NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini–Huygens mission ends in a ‘Grand Finale’ this month, after 13 years in orbit around Saturn. The ESA and NASA JPL project scientists Nicolas Altobelli, Linda J. Spilker and Scott G. Edgington give an overview of the last moments of Cassini’s operational lifetime.

    • Nicolas Altobelli
    • , Linda J. Spilker
    •  & Scott G. Edgington

Research Highlights

News and Views

  • News and Views |

    An ingenious use of gravitational lensing allows the measurement of magnetic fields in a galaxy five billion years ago.

    • Simon J. Lilly
  • News and Views |

    Linearly polarized optical emission from a gamma-ray burst reveals the presence of a large-scale distorted magnetic field in the heart of this powerful cosmic explosion.

    • Maria Petropoulou
  • News and Views |

    A time-dependent dark energy component of the Universe may be able to explain tensions between local and primordial measurements of cosmological parameters, shaking current confidence in the concept of a cosmological ‘constant’.

    • Eleonora Di Valentino
  • News and Views |

    The length asymmetry of the tidal stellar stream Palomar 5 could have been caused by a past encounter(s) with the Galactic bar, thus limiting its use as a probe for structures in the dark matter halo of the Milky Way.

    • Christos Efthymiopoulos
  • News and Views |

    • Bonnie J. Buratti
  • News and Views |

    • Carl D. Murray
  • News and Views |

    • Matthew M. Hedman


  • Perspective |

    Black holes and spacetime singularities are fundamental in science. While observational proof for black holes is hard to come by, alternatives can be ruled out or confirmed to exist through precision gravitational wave observations.

    • Vitor Cardoso
    •  & Paolo Pani
  • Perspective |

    Australian astronomy has a bright future due to recent investments in major new telescopes, instruments and research centres. In this process, Australia's focus continues to shift from national facilities to new multinational and global partnerships.

    • Elaine M. Sadler
  • Review Article |

    Quantifying the effect of active galactic nuclei (AGNs) on their hosts requires knowledge of their life cycle. This review on AGN archaeology summarizes the main recent findings regarding the AGN life cycle from optical and radio observations.

    • Raffaella Morganti


  • Letter |

    Diamonds precipitate from methane under the intense pressures of the atmospheres of Neptune and Uranus. Here, a laser shock experiment on a hydrocarbon sample shows that diamonds may require ten times as much pressure to precipitate as was previously thought.

    • D. Kraus
    • , J. Vorberger
    • , A. Pak
    • , N. J. Hartley
    • , L. B. Fletcher
    • , S. Frydrych
    • , E. Galtier
    • , E. J. Gamboa
    • , D. O. Gericke
    • , S. H. Glenzer
    • , E. Granados
    • , M. J. MacDonald
    • , A. J. MacKinnon
    • , E. E. McBride
    • , I. Nam
    • , P. Neumayer
    • , M. Roth
    • , A. M. Saunders
    • , A. K. Schuster
    • , P. Sun
    • , T. van Driel
    • , T. Döppner
    •  & R. W. Falcone
  • Letter |

    Brightness changes of the Sun over timescales from minutes to decades, relevant to Earth’s climate and the detection of exoplanets around Sun-like stars, can be fully and precisely explained by the magnetic field and granulation of the Sun’s surface.

    • A. I. Shapiro
    • , S. K. Solanki
    • , N. A. Krivova
    • , R. H. Cameron
    • , K. L. Yeo
    •  & W. K. Schmutz
  • Letter |

    The detection and characterization of a large-scale ordered magnetic field through a gravitational lens in a galaxy beyond the local volume allows us to elucidate how such magnetic fields come about, supporting a mean-field dynamo origin.

    • S. A. Mao
    • , C. Carilli
    • , B. M. Gaensler
    • , O. Wucknitz
    • , C. Keeton
    • , A. Basu
    • , R. Beck
    • , P. P. Kronberg
    •  & E. Zweibel
  • Letter |

    Recent observations reveal tension between various cosmological probes. Assuming dark energy to be non-constant, depending on redshift, may relieve this tension. The Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument survey will be able to confirm this result.

    • Gong-Bo Zhao
    • , Marco Raveri
    • , Levon Pogosian
    • , Yuting Wang
    • , Robert G. Crittenden
    • , Will J. Handley
    • , Will J. Percival
    • , Florian Beutler
    • , Jonathan Brinkmann
    • , Chia-Hsun Chuang
    • , Antonio J. Cuesta
    • , Daniel J. Eisenstein
    • , Francisco-Shu Kitaura
    • , Kazuya Koyama
    • , Benjamin L’Huillier
    • , Robert C. Nichol
    • , Matthew M. Pieri
    • , Sergio Rodriguez-Torres
    • , Ashley J. Ross
    • , Graziano Rossi
    • , Ariel G. Sánchez
    • , Arman Shafieloo
    • , Jeremy L. Tinker
    • , Rita Tojeiro
    • , Jose A. Vazquez
    •  & Hanyu Zhang