The James Webb May See the First Stars to Appear in the Universe

An artist's representation of what the first stars to light up the universe might have looked like in the Cosmic Dawn. Image Credit: NASA/WMAP Science Team

Astronomers continue to hunt for the elusive kind of star known as Population III stars, the first stars to appear in the young universe. New research has revealed that the James Webb Space Telescope may be on the cusp of discovering them.

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The First Stars May Have Weighed More Than 100,000 Suns

The first stars
A visualization of what the universe looked like when it was going through its last major transformative era: the epoch of reionization. Credit: Paul Geil & Simon Mutch/The University of Melbourne

The universe was simply different when it was younger. Recently astronomers have discovered that complex physics in the young cosmos may have led to the development of supermassive stars, each one weighing up to 100,000 times the mass of the Sun.

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Astronomers Come Closer to Understanding How Mercury Formed

Artist's concept of the MESSENGER spacecraft on approach to Mercury. Credit: NASA/JPL

Simulations of the formation of the solar system have been largely successful. They are able to replicate the positions of all the major planets along with their orbital parameters. But current simulations have an extreme amount of difficulty getting the masses of the four terrestrial planets right, especially Mercury. A new study suggests that we need to pay more attention to the giant planets in order to understand the evolution of the smaller ones.

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Astronomers Prepare to Launch LuSEE Night, A Test Observatory on the Far Side of the Moon

Artist's impression of a radio telescope on the far side Moon. Credit: Vladimir Vustyansky

Astronomers have not yet been able to map large portions of the radio emissions from our universe because of interference from the Earth itself. A team of astronomers hopes to change that, beginning with the LuSEE Night mission to the far side of the Moon. It will launch in 2025 and chart a new pathway to Lunar observatories.

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Molecular Clouds Have Long Lives By Constantly Reassembling Themselves

This is a two-panel mosaic of part of the Taurus Giant Molecular Cloud, the nearest active star-forming region to Earth. The darkest regions are where stars are being born. Inside these vast clouds, complex chemicals are also forming. Image Credit: Adam Block /Steward Observatory/University of Arizona

Astronomers have recently discovered that giant clouds of molecular hydrogen, the birthplace of stars, can live for tens of millions of years despite the facts that individual molecules are constantly getting destroyed and reassembled. This new research helps place a crucial piece of understanding in our overall picture of how stars are born.

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How did Dimorphos Form?

NASA's DART spacecraft is due to collide with the smaller body of the Didymos binary asteroid system on Sept. 26th, 2022. Credit: ESA

The otherwise unremarkable double asteroid of Didymos and Dimorphos made headlines as the target of NASA’s successful Double Asteroid Redirect Test (DART) mission. With new details about the system emerging, astronomers have put together a hypothesis of how this strange double asteroid came to be.

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How Crazy Magnetic Fields Drive the Sun Mad

Solar coronal jets are fast moving plumes of plasma that erupt suddenly from the polar regions of the Sun. Astronomers believe that these help heat up the solar corona, but the physics behind the formation of these jets is poorly understood. Recently a team of astronomers have used observations with the Solar Dynamic Observatory and the Solar Orbiter to discover that multiple intertwining magnetic fields that connect and reconnect can power these fast moving jets.

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Astronomers Spot an Orphaned Protostar

The HH 24 Complex (image credit: Reipurth et al.)

Astronomers have performed an impressive suite of observations at multiple wavelengths of the same system, dubbed the HH 24 complex. This complex hosts stars in the process of being born and the impacts of their violent interactions with each other, including the ejection of one of their siblings.

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How Life Reshapes the Habitable Zone

An artist's impression of a warm, wet early Mars. Image Credit: Daein Ballard. CC-BY-SA-3.0

Astronomers are very interested in the Habitable Zone of distant stars, which is the orbital radius where liquid water, and therefore potentially life, can exist on a planet in that region. But life itself changes the characteristics of a planet. New research suggestions that life is even capable of redefining what the Habitable Zone can mean.

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