“Origins” –Cosmic Molecules Foreshadow Earthly RNA & DNA

rho Ophiuchi star region


Detecting pre-biotic molecules in solar-type protostars enhances our understanding of how the solar system formed as it indicates that planets created around the star could begin their existence with a supply of the chemical ingredients needed to make some form of life. This warm and dense region contains young stars at the earliest stage of their evolution surrounded by a cocoon of dust and gas—similar conditions to those when our Solar System formed.


“Overlooked” — Hubble’s Constant: A Key Mechanism That Drives the Cosmos


Galaxy Protocluster


“The Hubble constant anchors the physical scale of the universe,” said Simon Birrer, an astronomer at UCLA. Without a precise value for the Hubble constant, astronomers can’t accurately determine the sizes of remote galaxies, the age of the universe or the expansion history of the cosmos.


“Globular Cluster Opportunity” –Harbors Milky Way’s Oldest Known Planet  


Antares Region


“Although the closest habitable planet might orbit a red dwarf star, the closest one we can easily prove to be life-bearing might orbit a white dwarf,” said astronomer Avi Loeb in 2013. A theorist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) and director of the Institute for Theory and Computation, Loeb added: “In the quest for extraterrestrial biological signatures, the first stars we study should be white dwarfs. Even dying stars could host planets with life – and if such life exists, we might be able to detect it within the next decade.”


“More Mystery!” –Planet 9 May Actually Be a Gargantuan Disk



It’s possible that there could be a massive disc and a ninth planet, said Antranik Sefilian at Cambridge’s Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics. “With the discovery of each new trans-Neptunian Object (TNO), we gather more evidence that might help explain their behavior.”


“Blink of a Cosmic Eye” –Simmering Remains of a Dying Star


Abell 36 Nebula


The faint, ephemeral glow emanating from the planetary nebula ESO 577-24 persists for only a short time — around 10,000 years, a blink of an eye in astronomical terms. ESO’s Very Large Telescope captured this shell of glowing ionized gas — the last breath of the dying star whose simmering remains are visible at the heart of this image. As the gaseous shell of this planetary nebula expands and grows dimmer, it will slowly disappear from sight.


“Far Larger” –Galaxies Threatened by Extreme Rule-Defying Black Holes


Black Hole


Galaxies are not necessarily safe from celestial, ultramassive behemoths lurking at their centers: “We have discovered black holes that are far larger and way more massive than anticipated,” said Mar Mezcua, at the Institute of Space Sciences in Spain, who studied 72 galaxies located at the center of the universe’s brightest and most massive galaxy clusters. “Are they so big because they had a head start or because certain ideal conditions allowed them to grow more rapidly over billions of years? For the moment, there is no way for us to know.”


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