Capturing electrons in space

Interstellar clouds are the birthplaces of new stars, but they also play an important role in the origins of life in the Universe through regions of dust and gas in which chemical compounds form. The research group, molecular ...

Cold molecular clouds as cosmic ray detectors

The ionization of the neutral gas in an interstellar molecular cloud plays a key role in the cloud's evolution, helping to regulate the heating and cooling processes, the chemistry and molecule formation, and coupling the ...

Found in space: Complex carbon-based molecules

Much of the carbon in space is believed to exist in the form of large molecules called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Since the 1980s, circumstantial evidence has indicated that these molecules are abundant in space, ...

Uncovering exotic molecules of potential astrochemical interest

Looking at the night sky, one's thoughts might be drawn to astrochemistry. What molecules are found in the vast spaces between the stars? Would we see the same molecules that surround us here on Earth? Or would some of them ...

Where are stars made? NASA's Spitzer spies a hot spot

The nebula known as W51 is one of the most active star-forming regions in the Milky Way galaxy. First identified in 1958 by radio telescopes, it makes a rich cosmic tapestry in this image from NASA's recently retired Spitzer ...

Magnetized gas flows feed a young star cluster

Observations of magnetic fields in interstellar clouds made of gas and dust indicate that these clouds are strongly magnetized, and that magnetic fields influence the formation of stars within them. A key observation is that ...

Stellar pulsations distribute key ingredient for life

As Carl Sagan famously said, "We're made of star stuff"—but how do stars distribute their essential "stuff" for life into space? NASA's telescope on an airplane, SOFIA, is finding some answers by watching pulsating stars ...

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