Fossils

550 Million Year Old Fossils:  New Clues About Fossil Formation

550 Million Year Old Fossils: New Clues About Fossil Formation

A new study from University of Missouri and Virginia Tech researchers is challenging accepted ideas about how ancient soft-bodied organisms become part of the fossil record.

Extremeophiles and Extreme Environments

Ancient, hydrogen-rich waters discovered deep underground at locations around the world

Ancient, hydrogen-rich waters discovered deep underground at locations around the world

A quantum change in our understanding of how much of Earth's crust may be habitable.

Impact events

Asteroid that wiped out dinosaurs may have nearly knocked off mammals, too

Asteroid that wiped out dinosaurs may have nearly knocked off mammals, too

The extinction of the dinosaurs 66 million years ago is thought to have paved the way for mammals to dominate, but a new study shows that many mammals died off alongside the dinosaurs.

Extrasolar Planets

Life on an Aquaplanet

Life on an Aquaplanet

An MIT study finds an exoplanet, tilted on its side, could still be habitable if covered in ocean.

Astrogeology

Study Hints that Ancient Earth Made Its Own Water Geologically

Study Hints that Ancient Earth Made Its Own Water Geologically

A new study is helping to answer a longstanding question that has recently moved to the forefront of earth science: Did our planet make its own water through geologic processes, or did water come to us via icy comets from the far reaches of the solar system?

SETI

Searching for Extraterrestrial Intelligence with the Square Kilometre Array

Searching for Extraterrestrial Intelligence with the Square Kilometre Array

The vast collecting area of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), harnessed by sensitive receivers, flexible digital electronics and increased computational capacity, could permit the most sensitive and exhaustive search for technologically-produced radio emission from advanced extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) ever performed.

Astronomy

What Asteroseismology Can Do for Exoplanets

What Asteroseismology Can Do for Exoplanets

We describe three useful applications of asteroseismology in the context of exoplanet science: (1) the detailed characterisation of exoplanet host stars; (2) the measurement of stellar inclinations; and (3) the determination of orbital eccentricity from transit duration making use of asteroseismic stellar densities.

Extrasolar Planets

The Occurrence of Earth-Like Planets Around Other Stars

The Occurrence of Earth-Like Planets Around Other Stars

The quantity η⊕, the number density of planets per star per logarithmic planetary radius per logarithmic orbital period at one Earth radius and one year period, describes the occurrence of Earth-like extrasolar planets.

Meteorites, Asteroids, & Comets

Thermally Induced Chemistry of Meteoritic Complex Organic Molecules

Thermally Induced Chemistry of Meteoritic Complex Organic Molecules

Research over the past four decades has shown a rich variety of complex organic molecular content in some meteorites.

Mars

Curiosity Finds Active, Ancient Organic Chemistry on Mars

Curiosity Finds Active, Ancient Organic Chemistry on Mars

NASA's Mars Curiosity rover has measured a tenfold spike in methane, an organic chemical, in the atmosphere around it and detected other organic molecules in a rock-powder sample collected by the robotic laboratory's drill.

Astrochemistry

Nuclear Fragments Could Help Uncover Origins of Life-supporting Planets

Nuclear Fragments Could Help Uncover Origins of Life-supporting Planets

New research published today in the journal Physical Review Letters describes how recreating isotopes that occur when a star explodes, can help physicists understand where life-supporting elements may be found in space.

More top stories from December.