Space images: The best of 2020

There was stunning cosmic imagery to feast on over the past year - here's our pick of the offerings.

Dec. 29, 2020 ~6 min

nasa the-sun spacex hayabusa-2 jupiter milky-way hubble-telescope

Why is the sun’s atmosphere hotter than its surface?

A phenomenon first detected in the solar wind may help solve a mystery about the sun: why the solar atmosphere is millions of degrees hotter than the surface.

Mike Williams-Rice • futurity
Dec. 11, 2020 ~8 min

physics space temperature plasma sun science-and-technology

The scariest things in the universe are black holes – and here are 3 reasons

The scariest beast in the universe has an insatiable appetite and shreds its victims.

Chris Impey, University Distinguished Professor of Astronomy, University of Arizona • conversation
Oct. 30, 2020 ~7 min

physics space astronomy sun stars black-holes singularity

Where’s the sea ice? 3 reasons the Arctic freeze is unseasonably late and why it matters

The pattern of autumn sea ice growth has been completely disrupted, but are we really headed for a tipping point?

Mark Serreze, Research Professor of Geography and Director, National Snow and Ice Data Center, University of Colorado Boulder • conversation
Oct. 28, 2020 ~6 min

climate-change heat-wave arctic oceans sun atlantic-ocean sea-ice polar-ice

Sunny-day flooding linked to sea level, moon orbit

A pattern among the moon, sun, and sea level could help predict sunny-day flooding, say researchers.

Alisson Clark-Florida • futurity
Oct. 20, 2020 ~4 min

floods sun earth-and-environment moons sea-levels coastal-regions

Life on Earth: why we may have the Moon's now defunct magnetic field to thank for it

The Earth's magnetic field was most likely weaker when life evolved on our planet than it is today.

Jon Mound, Associate Professor of Geophysics, University of Leeds • conversation
Oct. 15, 2020 ~5 min

evolution atmosphere moon earth sun magnetism magnetic-fields life-on-earth solar-winds

How can smoke from West Coast fires cause red sunsets in New York?

Last week, much of the Midwest and eastern US experienced hazy skies and red sunsets. The cause was smoke transported from the Western US by the jet stream and spread as far as Boston and even Europe.

Jeffrey B. Halverson, Professor of Geography & Environmental Systems, Associate Dean of the Graduate School, University of Maryland, Baltimore County • conversation
Sept. 22, 2020 ~4 min

atmosphere pollution wildfires smoke sun fire jet-stream fire-season

CfA research on twin suns, ’Oumuamua, and Betelgeuse

CfA astronomers theorize that the solar system originally had two suns as they further research a sneezing star and ‘Oumuamua.

Juan Siliezar • harvard
Sept. 4, 2020 ~9 min

science-technology oumuamua avi-loeb cfa center-for-astrophysics-harvard-smithsonian amir-siraj andrea-dupree betelgeuse binary-suns sneezing-star

Solar Orbiter: Sun probe's first images reveal small 'camp fires'

Solar Orbiter takes the closest ever pictures of the Sun, just 77 million km from the surface.

By Jonathan Amos • bbcnews
July 16, 2020 ~4 min

astronomy space-exploration the-sun european-space-agency

UK weather: What is the UV Index and why could it break UK records?

The UK could experience some of the highest UV levels ever recorded, on Thursday.

BBC Science News • bbcnews
June 25, 2020 ~4 min

skin-cancer weather-forecasting the-sun