As if being downgraded to dwarf planet status was not enough, Pluto may now be in danger of losing its wispy atmosphere by 2030. The dire prediction comes from a 28-year study of the small celestial body, which lies at the edge of our solar system, by a team of international researchers led by University of Tasmania astronomer Andrew Cole.
After being eradicated for over 19 years, measles is making a comeback in America. Since January 2019, the highly-contagious disease has infected more than 700 people, mostly small children. The cases have emerged across the country, all the way from New York, which is facing its worst measles crisis since 2000, to Washington and California. According to the American Red Cross, as of April 26, 2019, 22 states have reported measles cases, and the number seems to be increasing daily. So what is measles, and why is the outbreak causing such anxiety? Read on . . .
Meteor showers, which happen when our planet traverses through debris streams left behind by passing comets, are a fairly common occurrence. While the tiny rocks usually burn up when they collide with our atmosphere, resulting in what we call "shooting stars," every so often one manages to survive the impact and land on Earth. That is precisely what appears to have happened in Costa Rica recently.
While rain on Earth is associated with water, precipitation on the Sun comes as giant clumps of plasma, or supercharged gas, which drizzle down from the star's atmosphere on to its surface. Though coronal rain has been observed on numerous occasions, its source, which researchers believed would help them better understand how the Sun's outer atmosphere, or corona, gets so hot, had never been discovered. Now, thanks to Emily Mason, a graduate student at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., the mystery has finally been solved.
Given that even a six month stint at the International Space Station (ISS) causes astronauts to lose bone density and, in some cases, results in visual impairment, researchers have wondered if the human body can withstand a mission to Mars, which could take up to three years. Now, a groundbreaking study involving American twin astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly has found that while the body undergoes drastic changes when exposed to the weightless environment and space radiation for long durations, it mostly reverts to normal upon returning to Earth. This has led the experts to conclude that astronaut health can be "mostly sustained" for a year in space.
Researchers have long known that the ancestors of the mighty whales were nimble, four-legged creatures that were comfortable both on land and in the sea. However, given that the only evidence of the early mammals had been found in present-day Pakistan, India, and parts of Africa, scientists were unsure of how the mammals had dispersed to the Western Hemisphere. Now, thanks to the aptly-named Peregocetus pacificus (P.pacificus), or "traveling whale that reached the Pacific," paleontologists finally have an answer to this all-important migration mystery.
The existence of black holes, first proposed by Albert Einstein in his 1916 general theory of relativity, has been known for decades. However, astrophysicists have thus far relied on indirect evidence, such as the stars orbiting a large and invisible object in the center of the Milky Way galaxy, to prove their presence. That changed on April 10, 2019, with the release of the first-ever direct visual evidence of a black hole in the center of the galaxy M87, located 55 million light-years from Earth.
After almost twenty years in space — thirteen of which were spent making extraordinary discoveries about the Saturn system, including its rings and natural satellites — NASA's Cassini spacecraft finally ran out of fuel. However, shortly before plunging into on September 15, 2017, the probe completed one final important mission: six close flybys of tiny moons located inside, or near, Saturn's rings.