“It was shocking to realize that the Milky Way had a large sibling, and we never knew about it,” said Eric Bell, University of Michigan professor of astronomy in 2018 about his discovery that the Andromeda galaxy (also named M31), our closest large galactic neighbor, shredded and cannibalized a massive galaxy two billion years ago.
“It’s a shame we don’t have it naturally here on earth, but on Jupiter, there are oceans of metallic hydrogen. We want to find out how these oceans give rise to Jupiter’s enormous magnetic field,” observed Mohamed Zaghoo with the University of Rochester’s Laboratory of Laser Energetics (LLE) and colleague Gilbert ‘Rip’ Collins, director of the high-energy-density physics program. Astrophysicists have long thought that terrestrial planets with magnetic fields are better able to sustain gaseous atmospheres and are more likely to harbor life.
“It is undeniable that we are profoundly puzzled, especially when it comes to the first fraction of a second that followed the Big Bang,” wrote theoretical physicist Dan Hooper, author of The Edge of Time in an email to The Daily Galaxy–Great Discoveries Channel. “I have no doubt that these earliest moments hold incredible secrets, but our universe holds its secrets closely. It is up to us to coax those secrets from its grip, transforming them from mystery into discovery.”
Astronomers studying the motions of galaxies and the character of the cosmic microwave background radiation came to realize in the last century that most of the matter in the universe was not visible. About 84 percent of the matter in the cosmos is dark matter, much of it located in halos around galaxies. It was dubbed dark matter because it does not emit light, but it is also mysterious: it is not composed of atoms or their usual constituents like electrons and protons.
“NASA’s ENIGMA (Evolution of Nanomachines In Geospheres and Microbial Ancestors) research team,” evolutionary biologist Paul Falkowski told The Daily Galaxy, “is focused on answering a single, compelling question in astrobiology: How did proteins evolve to become the predominant catalysts of life on Earth?