Space

Intelligent life in the Milky Way is slowly dying out Life

Intelligent life in the Milky Way is slowly dying out

Mankind is pretty late and pretty far out. That's the conclusion of a study that statistically examines the development of intelligent life in the Milky Way. In it, the authors look at a whole range of factors that they think influence the evolution of intelligent life, such as the frequency of Sun-like stars hosting Earth-like planets, the frequency of civilization destroying supernovas, the length of time it takes for intelligent life to evolve (if conditions are right), and the tendency of advanced civilizations to self-destruct. The researchers incorporated these factors, with varying values, into a simulation of the Milky…
Intergalactic gas filaments crisscross the universe Astrophysics

Intergalactic gas filaments crisscross the universe

They crisscross the cosmos like cobwebs in a room that hasn't seen a vacuum cleaner in a long time: In so-called filaments, unfathomably large, threadlike structures of hot gas that surround and connect galaxies and clusters of galaxies, astrophysicists have long suspected the previously hidden half of matter in our universe. We owe our existence to a tiny error. After the big bang 13.8 billion years ago, the matter of the cosmos spread out in a gigantic gas cloud and was almost evenly distributed in it. Almost, but not quite: in some parts the cloud was somewhat denser than in…
A lonely pair of gas giants that could never become a star Space

A lonely pair of gas giants that could never become a star

Star formation processes sometimes give rise to astronomical objects called brown dwarfs. They are smaller and colder than stars, and in the most extreme cases can have masses and temperatures down to those of exoplanets. Like stars, brown dwarfs often wander through space alone, but they can also appear in binary systems, where two brown dwarfs orbit each other and travel together in the galaxy. Researchers led by Clémence Fontanive of the Center for Space and Habitability (CSH) at the University of Bern have now discovered a curious starless binary system of brown dwarfs. The system, CFHTWIR-Oph 98 (or…
Spiders in Space: Light as a Substitute for Gravity Life

Spiders in Space: Light as a Substitute for Gravity

The University of Basel has just issued a very nice story in a press release. It's about spiders, and the following is probably only great for those who like the useful animals at least a little bit. But let the (translated) press release have its say. On earth, spiders form asymmetrical webs, whose center is shifted towards the upper edge. In resting state the spiders sit upside down, because they can move faster in the direction of gravity towards freshly caught prey. But what do arachnids do in zero gravity? In 2008, NASA wanted to get high schools in…
When the fog dissolves Astrophysics

When the fog dissolves

In winter the fog sometimes does not dissolve the whole day. In space, planetary nebulae usually exist for many millennia, because they are star shells that have been ejected by their stars at the end of their lifetime. In the case of the Stingray Nebula, which was first catalogued in 1976 and is located 18,000 light years from Earth, this seems to be an exception. Images of the system taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2016 show a nebula that has drastically lost brightness and changed shape compared to Hubble images from 1996. Light blue gas shells near…
The solar system – a crash birth Space

The solar system – a crash birth

About 4.5 billion years ago, a large cloud of gas and dust collapsed where the solar system is today. Everything that makes up our sun, the planets, moons, asteroids and other celestial bodies in the solar system comes from this cloud. As an international team of researchers led by planetologists from the University of Münster has now discovered, the formation of the entire system took a surprisingly short time: only 200,000 years. The first solids that formed in the solar system can now be found as micrometer to centimeter-sized inclusions in meteorites. The so-called calcium- and aluminum-rich inclusions (CAIs)…
Milky Way’s Family Tree Astrophysics

Milky Way’s Family Tree

From small to large: this is one of the possible ways in which structures are created in the universe. Galaxies like our Milky Way are formed when several small predecessor objects join together. But what exactly did the Milky Way form from? An international team of astrophysicists led by Dr. Diederik Kruijssen from the Center for Astronomy at the University of Heidelberg has succeeded in reconstructing the merging history of our home galaxy and creating its family tree. To this end, the researchers analyzed the properties of globular star clusters orbiting the Milky Way. Globular clusters are dense groups…
Where the geysers on Europa could come from Enceladus

Where the geysers on Europa could come from

There are several worlds - usually moons - in the solar system, where it appears that life-friendly conditions could exist in the oceans below their crust. Whether this is really the case, we will only know after we have drilled through the ice and checked (as is done in The Enceladus Mission). A new paper by researchers from Stanford University, the University of Arizona, the University of Texas and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is now lowering hopes somewhat. As the researchers show, some eruptions may not come from the depths of the oceans, but from water pockets embedded in…