If we do find alien life, what kind will it be?

Three lines of evidence point to the idea of complex, multicellular alien life being a wild goose chase. But are we clever enough to know?

Credit: "Mars Attacks!" / Warner Bros
  • Everyone wants to know if there is alien life in the universe, but Earth may give us clues that if it exists it may not be the civilization-building kind.
  • Most of Earth's history shows life that is single-celled. That doesn't mean it was simple, though. Stunning molecular machines were being evolved by those tiny critters.
  • What's in a planet's atmosphere may also determine what evolution can produce. Is there a habitable zone for complex life that's much smaller than what's allowed for microbes?
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Astrophysicists find rare star spinning backwards

A unique star system where exoplanets orbit their star backwards located by researchers.

Illustration: Christoffer Grønne.
  • Astrophysicists find a very rare system with two exoplanets orbiting their star backwards.
  • The star system K2-290 is 897 light years away.
  • In our Solar System, all the planets revolve in the same direction as the rotation of the Sun.
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Astronomers detect signs of "galactic cannibalism"

One galaxy may have eaten one of its slightly smaller, more primitive neighbors.

Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash
The Milky Way is surrounded by dozens of dwarf galaxies that are thought to be relics of the very first galaxies in the universe.
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Astronomers figure out why some galaxies are missing dark matter

A new study found the possible reason why some dwarf galaxies appear to not have dark matter.

Credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Livio and the Hubble 20th Anniversary Team (STScI)
  • A new paper presents a possible reason for why some dwarf galaxies appear to be missing dark matter.
  • The researchers at the University of California, Riverside ran cosmological simulations to find the answers.
  • They discovered some galaxies were stripped of dark matter through extreme tidal loss.
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Video: Here's what it's like to orbit the moon in real time

Artist Seán Doran recently created more than eight hours of high-definition video using images captured by Japan's SELENE lunar orbiter.

Credit: Seán Doran
  • In 2007, Japan's SELENE lunar orbiter, better known as Kaguya, became the first orbiter to capture high-definition images of the moon.
  • Kaguya's images helped scientists create a highly detailed topography of the lunar surface.
  • Artist Seán Doran synthesized and polished the Kaguya images to simulate what it's like to orbit the moon in real time.
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