Mix water, methanol and ammonia at low temperatures and low pressure, irradiate with ultraviolet light and what do you get? A residue of organics, which when warmed to room temperature, contains ribose and other sugars that are believed to be building blocks for RNA and DNA, molecules essential for all known forms of life. Continue reading Life’s Building Blocks Created on Lab-Grown Comet
The European Space Agency is giving up on trying to contact the lost Philae comet lander, which had an unexpectedly rough touchdown after its release 16 months ago from the orbiting Rosetta mothership.
Rather than harpooning itself onto the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, Philae bounced several times before coming to a rest against a cliff wall. Continue reading Farewell, Philae: Hunt for Rosetta’s Lost Lander Ends
It’s looking less likely that a swarm of comets or an “alien megastructure” can explain a faraway star’s strange dimming.
The star (nicknamed “Tabby’s Star,” after its discoverer, Tabetha Boyajian) made major headlines last October when Jason Wright, an astronomer at Pennsylvania State University, suggested that it could be surrounded by some type of alien megastructure. A more likely idea — one that’s far less exciting — is that the star is orbited by a swarm of comets. But scientists can’t be sure either way. Continue reading Comets May Not Explain ‘Alien Megastructure’ Star’s Strange Flickering After All