Planet’s Signals Are Illusions Created by Starry Noise

Regions of intense stellar magnetic activity have been masquerading as planets around Gliese 581, a cool red star located about 22 light years from Earth, a new study reports. Gliese 581, also known as GJ 581, is one of the most well-known stars in the history of exoplanets; previous scientific observations have suggested that as many as six planets orbit around it, some of which do so at distances that leave them able to sustain liquid water (not too hot, not too cool). The results help put a debate to rest, provide a technique with which to more reliably look for habitable exoplanets going forward, and reveal how scientists’ knowledge of stellar physics continues to grow.

Read more about this research from the 4 July issue of Science here.

[Image courtesy of Alan Friedman. Please click here for more information.]

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

Planet’s Signals Are Illusions Created by Starry Noise

Regions of intense stellar magnetic activity have been masquerading as planets around Gliese 581, a cool red star located about 22 light years from Earth, a new study reports. Gliese 581, also known as GJ 581, is one of the most well-known stars in the history of exoplanets; previous scientific observations have suggested that as many as six planets orbit around it, some of which do so at distances that leave them able to sustain liquid water (not too hot, not too cool). The results help put a debate to rest, provide a technique with which to more reliably look for habitable exoplanets going forward, and reveal how scientists’ knowledge of stellar physics continues to grow.

Read more about this research from the 4 July issue of Science here.

[Image courtesy of Alan Friedman. Please click here for more information.]

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

Why the Bright Center of a Galaxy Went Dark

In 2013, astronomers noticed that something was obscuring the emission from a bright, well known active galaxy, NGC 5548. Now, Jelle Kaastra and colleagues suggest that the blocking agent may be a fast-moving and clumpy stream of gas. Its location only a few light days away from the galaxy’s nucleus may imply an origin in the accretion disk. This finding may provide some future insight into the workings of more powerful quasars and how they influence their environment, they say.

This video, courtesy of Kaastra et al. (Science/AAAS 2014) provides an animated journey through the active galaxy NGC 5548.

Read more about this research from the 19 June issue of Science Express here.

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

Support for the Giant Impact Hypothesis of Moon Formation

The origins of the Moon have been as murky as a black hole’s interior, but now a new study shines light on the Moon’s making. Scientists aren’t completely sure how the Moon formed but they have a prevailing theory, the Giant Impact Hypothesis, which suggests that the Moon was formed by a collision between a proto-Earth and a solid object of mysterious composition called Theia.

Read more about this research from the 6 June issue of Science here.

[Video © Science/AAAS]

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

Why So Bright: Solving the Puzzle of a Superluminous Supernova

An exceptionally bright supernova is so luminous, a new study reports, because a lens in front of it amplifies its light. The discovery of the lens settles an important controversy in the field of astronomy.

In this photo courtesy of Science/AAAS, authors Robert Quimby (left) and Marcus Werner demonstrate strong gravitational lensing. The water glass serves as a lens, producing the stripe of brighter light against the wall.

Read more about this research from the 25 April issue of Science from AAAS News here.

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

Why So Bright: Solving the Puzzle of a Superluminous Supernova

An exceptionally bright supernova is so luminous, a new study reports, because a lens in front of it amplifies its light. The discovery of the lens settles an important controversy in the field of astronomy.

In this photo courtesy of Science/AAAS, authors Robert Quimby (left) and Marcus Werner demonstrate strong gravitational lensing. The water glass serves as a lens, producing the stripe of brighter light against the wall.

Read more about this research from the 25 April issue of Science from AAAS News here.

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

A Star and Its Lens

A white dwarf that boosts the brightness of a Sun-like star has been found by the Kepler spacecraft, a new study reports. Calculating the orbit of a binary star system allows the masses of its component stars to be determined, and Kruse and colleagues constrained the mass of the white dwarf to be about 60% of the mass of our Sun. Additional study of this and similar star systems, the authors say, may help to constrain the physics of white dwarfs and binary star evolution.

Read more about this research from the 18 April issue of Science here.

[Video courtesy of Eric Agol (UW), NASA/SDO HMI science teams. Please click here for more information.]

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

A Distant Planet Rather Like Earth

Scientists scouring the sky have found a planet roughly Earth’s size that could theoretically host liquid water, a new study reports. This is a landmark on the road to discovering habitable planets orbiting stars besides our Sun. According to the researchers, it receives the right amount of solar radiation — not too much, not too little — that if water were present, it could theoretically exist as a liquid on the planet’s surface.

Read more about this research from the 18 April issue of Science here.

[Credit: NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech. Please click here for more information.]

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

A Distant Planet Rather Like Earth

Scientists scouring the sky have found a planet roughly Earth’s size that could theoretically host liquid water, a new study reports. This is a landmark on the road to discovering habitable planets orbiting stars besides our Sun. According to the researchers, it receives the right amount of solar radiation — not too much, not too little — that if water were present, it could theoretically exist as a liquid on the planet’s surface.

Read more about this research from the 18 April issue of Science here.

[Credit: NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech. Please click here for more information.]

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

Underground Ocean on Enceladus Captured by Cassini

New results from the Cassini spacecraft, which has been among Saturn’s moons for the past 10 years, show that Enceladus harbors an ocean of water beneath 18 to 24 miles of ice. Based on their analysis, the researchers suggest that the south-polar region of Enceladus doesn’t have enough mass at its surface to account for the hemisphere’s gravity field, and that something dense beneath the moon’s surface — probably liquid water — must be compensating for it. They propose that a sub-surface ocean, concentrated in the moon’s southern hemisphere, extends to about 50 degrees south latitude. Their findings help to explain the mineral-rich jets of water vapor that were first observed flowing from long, distinctive fractures in the moon’s southern polar region, called tiger stripes, in 2005.

Read more about this research from the 4 April issue of Science here.

[Image courtesy of NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute. Please click here for more information.]

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

Underground Ocean on Enceladus Captured by Cassini

New results from the Cassini spacecraft, which has been among Saturn’s moons for the past 10 years, show that Enceladus harbors an ocean of water beneath 18 to 24 miles of ice. Based on their analysis, the researchers suggest that the south-polar region of Enceladus doesn’t have enough mass at its surface to account for the hemisphere’s gravity field, and that something dense beneath the moon’s surface — probably liquid water — must be compensating for it. They propose that a sub-surface ocean, concentrated in the moon’s southern hemisphere, extends to about 50 degrees south latitude. Their findings help to explain the mineral-rich jets of water vapor that were first observed flowing from long, distinctive fractures in the moon’s southern polar region, called tiger stripes, in 2005.

Read more about this research from the 4 April issue of Science here.

[Image courtesy of NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute. Please click here for more information.]

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

Martian Meteorites from Mojave Crater

There are about 150 known Martian meteorites, and now researchers have a good idea about where many of them came from on the Red Planet. Previous studies of shergottite meteorites suggested that they might be quite young, in some cases crystallizing less than 600 million years ago. But, Werner and colleagues believe that all shergottites originate from Mars’ Mojave Crater, about 34 miles (55 kilometers) wide and placed in the crust about 4.3 billion years ago.

This image, courtesy of Science/AAAS, is a THEMIS daytime image mosaic overlain by MOLA color-coded topography. Craters were counted for the plateau units (brown), channel units (blue-grey), and the continuous ejecta unit of Mojave crater (red line). 

Read more about this research from the 6 March issue of Science Express here.

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

Martian Meteorites from Mojave Crater

There are about 150 known Martian meteorites, and now researchers have a good idea about where many of them came from on the Red Planet. Previous studies of shergottite meteorites suggested that they might be quite young, in some cases crystallizing less than 600 million years ago. But, Werner and colleagues believe that all shergottites originate from Mars’ Mojave Crater, about 34 miles (55 kilometers) wide and placed in the crust about 4.3 billion years ago.

This image, courtesy of Science/AAAS, is a THEMIS daytime image mosaic overlain by MOLA color-coded topography. Craters were counted for the plateau units (brown), channel units (blue-grey), and the continuous ejecta unit of Mojave crater (red line).

Read more about this research from the 6 March issue of Science Express here.

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

Black Holes Give Off Stronger Winds than We Thought

Black holes release more energy into their host galaxies than previously thought, a new study suggests. This finding will help astronomers better model the evolution of black holes over time, and it will also help them better understand these mysterious regions’ effects on their host galaxies.

Read more about this research from the 27 February issue of Science Express here.

[Image courtesy of NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA). Please click here for more information.]

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

Black Holes Give Off Stronger Winds than We Thought

Black holes release more energy into their host galaxies than previously thought, a new study suggests. This finding will help astronomers better model the evolution of black holes over time, and it will also help them better understand these mysterious regions’ effects on their host galaxies.

Read more about this research from the 27 February issue of Science Express here.

[Image courtesy of NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA). Please click here for more information.]

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

Exceptionally Bright Explosion Reveals Rebel Burst Behavior

Artist’s conception of gamma-ray burst (GRB) 130427A, one of the brightest and longest-lived GRBs observed to date. GRBs such as this one occur when the core of a massive star runs out of nuclear fuel, collapses, and forms a black hole that drives a powerful jet of plasma traveling close to the speed of light. See pages 34, 38, 42, 48, and 51.

Image: NASA/Fermi and Sonoma State University/Aurore Simonnet

Anyone wishing to use the cover of Science must contact AAAS to request permission to do so.

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.