Earth’s magnetic poles could start to flip. What happens then?

The magnetic field protecting our planet originates deep in the Earth's core but fluctuates in strength over time.

by Jonathan O’Callaghan As Earth’s magnetic shield fails, so do its satellites. First, our communications satellites in the highest orbits go down. Next, astronauts in low-Earth orbit can no longer phone home. And finally, cosmic rays start to bombard every human on Earth. This is a possibility that we may start to face not in … Read more

System to rid space station of astronaut exhalations inspires Earth-based CO2 removal

Image credit - NASA/Mark Garcia

When astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) exhale carbon dioxide (CO2), it’s removed from the air and pumped into space. Could an Earth-based version help remove greenhouse gas emissions from our atmosphere? In order to limit global warming to 1.5˚C above pre-industrial levels and avoid some of the worse impacts of climate change, it … Read more

Cosmic ‘dustpedias’ could reveal new types of galaxy

Cosmic dust is too cold to be captured by optical telescopes, so visual images of galaxies don't give the full story of conditions.

by Gareth Willmer Measuring the vast quantities of cosmic dust in interstellar space may be a key to unlocking various mysteries of the cosmos, including how the grains form and whether new types of galaxy are obscured by the particle clouds. Cosmic dust grains, which are born in stars, are the building blocks for other stars … Read more

Refining intergalactic measurements could alter our whole understanding of physics

At the centre of the image is an important star called the RS Puppis, a Cepheid variable star which is a class of stars whose luminosity is used to estimate distances to nearby galaxies. This one is 15,000 times brighter than our sun.

by Ethan Bilby New efforts to figure out just how fast the universe has expanded since the Big Bang, a speed known as the Hubble constant, could upend current theories of physics, according to some scientists. Professor Grzegorz Pietrzyński at the Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Centre of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw is one … Read more

Dark matter clusters could reveal nature of dark energy

Scientists are hoping to understand one of the most enduring mysteries in cosmology by simulating its effect on the clustering of galaxies. That mystery is dark energy – the phenomenon that scientists hypothesise is causing the universe to expand at an ever-faster rate. No-one knows anything about dark energy, except that it could be, somehow, blowing … Read more