At any given moment, as many as 10 million wild jets of solar material burst from the sun’s surface. They erupt as fast as 60 miles per second, and can reach lengths of 6,000 miles before collapsing. These are spicules, and despite their grass-like abundance, scientists didn’t understand how they form. Now, for the first

Protostar FIR 3 (HOPS 370) with outflow that may have triggered the formation of younger protostar FIR 4 (HOPS 108, location marked with red dot), in the Orion star-forming region. (au = astronomical unit, the distance from the Earth to the Sun, about 93 million miles.) Credit: Osorio et al., NRAO/AUI/NSF Astronomers using the National

This sketch illustrates a family tree of exoplanets. Planets are born out of swirling disks of gas and dust called protoplanetary disks. The disks give rise to giant planets like Jupiter as well as smaller planets mostly between the sizes of Earth and Neptune. Researchers using data from the W. M. Keck Observatory and NASA’s

This is an artist impression of chaotic magnetic field lines very near a newly emerging protostar. Credit: NRAO/AUI/NSF; D. Berry For decades, scientists thought that the magnetic field lines coursing around newly forming stars were both powerful and unyielding, working like jail bars to corral star-forming material. More recently, astronomers have found tantalizing evidence that

Jupiter is not only the largest planet in our solar system, but it’s also the oldest, according to new research from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Credit: Image courtesy of NASA An international group of scientists has found that Jupiter is the oldest planet in our solar system. By looking at tungsten and molybdenum isotopes on

MACS J0416.1-240 is a cluster of galaxies located four billion light years away. A new study based on observations with the Hubble Space Telescope has shown that the most massive galaxies in the universe, which are found in clusters like this, have been aligned with the distribution of neighboring galaxies for at least 10 billion

The massive protostar is surrounded by a disk of gas and dust. The outflow is launched from the surface of the outer disk. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO) Stars form from gas and dust floating in interstellar space. But, astronomers do not yet fully understand how it is possible to form the massive stars seen in space.

This illustration shows a red dwarf star orbited by a hypothetical exoplanet. Red dwarfs tend to be magnetically active, displaying gigantic arcing prominences and a wealth of dark sunspots. Red dwarfs also erupt with intense flares that could strip a nearby planet’s atmosphere over time, or make the surface inhospitable to life as we know

ALMA has observed stars like the Sun at a very early stage in their formation and found traces of methyl isocyanate — a chemical building block of life. This is the first ever detection of this prebiotic molecule towards a solar-type protostar, the sort from which our Solar System evolved. The discovery could help astronomers

This illustration reveals how the gravity of a white dwarf star warps space and bends the light of a distant star behind it. White dwarfs are the burned-out remnants of normal stars. The Hubble Space Telescope captured images of the dead star, called Stein 2051 B, as it passed in front of a background star.

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