Astronomy and planetary science

Definition

Astronomy and planetary science are the study of objects and phenomena that occur beyond the Earth’s atmosphere. This includes investigating stars and their interaction with each other and the planetary systems that orbit them.

Featured

Latest Research and Reviews

  • Research | | open

    Constraining the timing of crustal processes and impact events remains challenging. Here, the authors show that atom probe tomography can produce highly accurate U-Pb isotopic age constraints in baddeleyite crystals, which is a common phase in terrestrial, Martian, Lunar and asteroidal materials.

    • L. F. White
    • , J. R. Darling
    • , D. E. Moser
    • , D. A. Reinhard
    • , T. J. Prosa
    • , D. Bullen
    • , D. Olson
    • , D. J. Larson
    • , D. Lawrence
    •  & I. Martin
  • Research | | open

    It has been previously assumed that deep river channels could not have developed in the Proterozoic due to lack of vegetation. Here, the authors present remote sensing and outcrop data to show that large scale and deeply channelled river networks did exist in the Proterozoic despite the absence of vegetation.

    • Alessandro Ielpi
    • , Robert H. Rainbird
    • , Dario Ventra
    •  & Massimiliano Ghinassi
  • Research |

    Four galaxies discovered near quasars at redshifts exceeding 6 have star-formation rates that are high enough to explain the massive elliptical galaxies known to exist at redshifts of about 4.

    • R. Decarli
    • , F. Walter
    • , B. P. Venemans
    • , E. Bañados
    • , F. Bertoldi
    • , C. Carilli
    • , X. Fan
    • , E. P. Farina
    • , C. Mazzucchelli
    • , D. Riechers
    • , H.-W. Rix
    • , M. A. Strauss
    • , R. Wang
    •  & Y. Yang
    Nature 545, 457–461
  • Research | | open

    Summer rainfall in the agriculturally-reliant Sahel is extremely variable, with the region particularly vulnerable to major droughts. Here, the authors investigate the mechanisms that drive Sahel summer rainfall change on inter-annual and multi-year timescales and show that Sahel rainfall can be skilfully predicted.

    • K. L. Sheen
    • , D. M. Smith
    • , N. J. Dunstone
    • , R. Eade
    • , D. P. Rowell
    •  & M. Vellinga

News and Comment

  • Comments and Opinion |

    We asked microbiologist and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins about her time on the International Space Station, the challenges of working with bugs in space, and what's next for science that is out of this world.

    • Emily White
  • Editorial |

    From roles in the health, nutrition and performance of humans during spaceflight, through to the question of life on other worlds, microbiology has fundamental contributions to make to our exploration of the cosmos.

  • News and Views |

    New detectors for radio telescopes can map emissions from many different molecules simultaneously across interstellar clouds. One such pioneering study has probed a wide area of a star-forming cloud in the Orion constellation.

    • Jennifer Wiseman
    •  & Marta Sewilo
  • News and Views |

    The neighbourhoods of extremely bright astronomical objects called quasars in the early Universe have been incompletely probed. Observations suggest that these regions harbour some of the most massive known galaxies. See Letter p.457

    • Rychard Bouwens
    Nature 545, 418–420