LPI Earth and Space Science Newsletter
To receive emails with these updates, please sign up for LPI’s Earth and Space Science News for Educators
Runaway Stars in our Galaxy
Astronomers have observed "hypervelocity stars" moving so fast through our galaxy that they will eventually escape the Milky Way's gravity. Astronomical research suggests that they may have been accelerated by a close encounter with massive black hole in the center of the nearby Large Magellanic Cloud, throwing them like a slingshot through our own galaxy.
Volcanic Deposits on Mercury from Deep Inside Planet
Some of the mysterious volcanic features on Mercury appear to have formed at the boundary between its core and mantle. Mercury's core is only 400 km below its surface, making it unique in the solar system.
How Mars' Moons Formed
Two new studies indicate that Mars' moons Phobos and Deimos formed during a giant collision between Mars and a protoplanet.
Juno Arrives at Jupiter
After an almost five-year journey to the solar system’s largest planet, NASA's Juno spacecraft successfully entered Jupiter’s orbit on July 4. Juno's principal goal is to understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter., by investigating the existence of a solid planetary core, mapping Jupiter's intense magnetic field, measuring the amount of water and ammonia in the deep atmosphere, and observing the planet's auroras. The mission also will let us take a giant step forward in our understanding of how giant planets form and the role these titans played in putting together the rest of the solar system.
Why the Earth's Atmosphere is Oxygenated
A new model suggests that the rise of oxygen in Earth's atmosphere was an inevitable consequence of the formation of continents in the presence of life and plate tectonics, explaining how atmospheric oxygen was added to Earth's atmosphere at two key times: one about 2 billion years ago and another about 600 million years ago.
Europa's Ocean May Have Earthlike Chemical Balance
A new study indicates that the ocean of Jupiter's moon Europa could have the necessary balance of chemical energy for life, even if the moon lacks volcanic hydrothermal activity. The balance of hydrogen and oxygen is a key indicator of the energy available for life. The study found that the amounts would be comparable in scale; on both worlds, oxygen production is about 10 times higher than hydrogen production.
Hubble Finds Clues to Forming Supermassive Black Holes
Astrophysicists have found the best evidence yet for the seeds that ultimately grow into these cosmic giants. For years astronomers have debated how the earliest generation of supermassive black holes formed so quickly after the Big Bang. New observations of massive black hole "seeds" suggest that they may form when a massive cloud of gas collapsed, jump-starting the formation of the supermassive black hole.