“We’ve taken a major step back in time, beyond what we’d ever expected to be able to do with Hubble. We see GN-z11 at a time when the universe was only three percent of its current age,” observed Pascal Oesch at the University of Geneva and head of the Galaxy Build-Up at Cosmic Dawn team about the discovery of a 13.4 billion-years -old galaxy. It’s mind-boggling by comparison to think that Earth is only 4.5 billion years old.
The 2017 discovery of a binary neutron star merger opened a new era in astronomy. It marked the first time that scientists have been able to observe a cosmic event with both light waves — the basis of traditional astronomy — and gravitational waves, the ripples in space-time predicted a century ago by Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity. Mergers of neutron stars, among the densest objects in the universe, are thought to be responsible for showering the Universe with heavy elements such as gold, platinum, and silver.
How does an entire planet change the speed of its rotation in 20 years? That’s the sort of change that takes hundreds of millions of years. Even more mysterious was the Cassini Mission’s detection of electromagnetic patterns that suggested that Saturn’s rotation is different in the northern and southern hemispheres. “For a long time, I assumed there was something wrong with the data interpretation,” said astrophysicist Duane Pontius. “It’s just not possible.”
“There is something about the Himalayas not possessed by the Alps, something unseen and unknown,” said mountaineer and botanist Frank Smythe…” a mystery intriguing and disturbing. Confronted by them, a man loses his grasp of ordinary things, perceiving himself as immortal, an entity capable of outdistancing all changes, all decay, all life, all death.”
“Using chemistry as a detective’s tool, we are able to trace certain features we see on Pluto today to formation processes from long ago. This leads to a new appreciation of the richness of Pluto’s ‘life story,’ which we are only starting to grasp,” said Christopher Glein with the Southwest Research Institute in 2018.
Is evidence of a twin Earth buried in unexamined Kepler Mission data? Kepler’s last observing campaign, Campaign 19, started on August 29, 2018 after the spacecraft’s configuration had been modified in 2014 in order to adapt to a change in thruster performance, and NASA officially changed the mission’s name from Kepler to K2 while using the same telescope. During the following 27 days, Kepler observed more than 30,000 stars in the constellation of Aquarius. The stars included dozens of known and suspected exoplanet systems — including the well-known TRAPPIST-1 system with its seven Earth-sized planets.