“Ceres –the only dwarf planet in the inner Solar System–has gained a pivotal role in assessing the origin, evolution and distribution of organic species across the inner solar system,” said Southwest Research Institute scientist Simone Marchi, about high abundance of carbon on Ceres’ near surface, which could be due to an excess of organic matter, possibly formed locally due to water-rocks chemistry.”
“This group of asteroids we hypothesized is probably about 1000-times less well populated than the asteroid belt,” NASA astrophysicist Marc Kuchner at the Goddard Space Flight Center, Exoplanets and Stellar Astrophysics Laboratory, told The Daily Galaxy about a group of 10,000 asteroids discovered co-orbiting the Sun with Venus. “We don’t know if they were all produced in one big break-up event. But if this group is like the main asteroid belt, there probably were some recent breakups in the last few million years that have left their imprint on the dust cloud. By the way…some of these objects will probably work their way into orbits that cross the Earth’s orbit, and become near-Earth asteroids.”
“The first galaxies in the early universe may illuminate what type of dark matter we have today,” says Mark Vogelsberger, associate professor of physics in MIT’s Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research about one of the great mysteries of modern physics. “Either we see this filament pattern, and fuzzy dark matter is plausible, or we don’t, and we can rule that model out. We now have a blueprint for how to do this.”
What is so special about carbon is that it’s doubtful (although possible) that life could have used something other than carbon. Each carbon atom can form four strong bonds that allow for an extraordinary variety of long-chain molecules, notably proteins, lipids, sugars and DNA, according to evolutionary biologist, Anthony Lane in The Vital Question: Energy, Evolution, and the Origin of Complex Life. Silicon, for example, can’t manage anything close to this complexity.
At present, our Solar System is in its twentieth orbit of the Milky Way near the inner edge of a spiral feature known as the Orion Arm or, less poetically, the Local Arm. The ghostly arms are not permanent features of a disc galaxy like the Milky Way. Rather, they are concentrations of gas and dust where stars form, produced by disturbances within the Milky Way, or on occasions by a jolt from outside, such as a supernova or the passage of the Solar System through one of the dusty gas clouds that congregate in spiral arms.
Our understanding of the first seconds of our Universe’s existence is little more than an informed guess, based on inference and extrapolation. “Yet these first moments are the key to many of our most urgent and enduring cosmic mysteries,” cosmologist Dan Hooper at the University of Chicago told The Daily Galaxy. “Understanding this era,” he adds, “is essential to understanding our universe.”