Galactic turmoil ahead

The Milky Way and its closest neighbor, the Andromeda galaxy, are on course for “ a head-on collision,” says astronomer Roeland van der Marel of the Space Telescope Science Institute. But no need for precautions because the crash won’t happen for another 4 billion years. Researchers have long known that Andromeda, currently some 2.5 million light-years away, is moving toward […]

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The Sun Is Coming!

Earth got off relatively easy last week after being hit by the biggest blast of solar radiation since 2005—but we may not be so lucky next time. Last week’s coronal mass ejection, in which a solar flare whipped an arc of magnetic particles toward Earth at 4 million mph, led some airlines to reroute flights away from the poles, where […]

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Plate tectonics thanks to plumes?

“Knowing what a chicken looks like and what all the chickens before it looked like doesn’t help us to understand the egg,” says Taras Gerya. The ETH Professor of Geophysics uses this metaphor to address plate tectonics and the early history of the Earth. The Earth’s lithosphere is divided into several plates that are in constant motion, and today’s geologists […]

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The most Earth-like planet yet

Have we found Earth’s twin? For the first time, astronomers have identified a planet outside our solar system that is both Earth-size and orbits its star in the so-called Goldilocks zone, where temperatures may be “just right” for supporting liquid water—and, therefore, life. Researchers discovered the planet while reviewing data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope, which has spent the past […]

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Freshwater under the ocean

Vast reserves of freshwater have been discovered beneath the seabed of continental shelves off Australia, China, North America, and South Africa—a potentially valuable resource for coastal cities needing to alleviate water shortages or combat drought. The finding comes from a new analysis of seafloor water studies conducted for oil and gas exploration purposes. The total volume of these untapped reserves […]

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