The salt of the comet

Under the leadership of astrophysicist Kathrin Altwegg, Bernese researchers have found an explanation for why very little nitrogen could previously be accounted for in the nebulous covering of comets: the building block for life predominantly occurs in the form of ammonium salts, the occurrence of which could not previously be measured. The salts may be … Read more

Western-led team investigates interstellar bodies originating from beyond our solar system

Astonishingly, not one but two interstellar asteroids have been detected entering our solar system since 2017. The first was given the Hawaiian name ‘Oumuamua, meaning ‘messenger from afar,’ after its discovery by Canadian astronomer Robert Weryk. The second, 2I/Borisov, was named for its discoverer Gennadiy Borisov. Paul Wiegert from Western University’s Institute for Earth & … Read more

Interstellar comet with a familiar look

For decades, astronomers have speculated that the space between stars may be populated by exosolar minor bodies – comets and asteroids – ejected from their home planetary systems. Studies have also suggested that these bodies may occasionally pass through the Solar System and be identified thanks to their strongly open orbits. The discovery of ‘Oumuamua’ … Read more

Unexpected observation of ice at low temperature, high pressure questions water theory

Through an experiment designed to create a super-cold state of water, scientists at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory used neutron scattering to discover a pathway to the unexpected formation of dense, crystalline phases of ice thought to exist beyond Earth’s limits. Observation of these particular crystalline ice phases, known as ice IX, … Read more