All About Space

All About Space No. 109

Every issue All About Space delivers fascinating articles and features on all aspects of space and space travel with mind-blowing photography and full-colour illustrations that bring the amazing universe around us to life.

United Kingdom
Future Publishing Ltd



If you could imagine a place where life might exist within our galaxy, where would you think to look? Of course, terrestrial worlds that are a dead ringer for Earth – a so-called Earth 2.0 – could be a haven teeming with organisms, but what about those places submersed in liquid? This month you’ll meet the ocean worlds and discover what secrets they hold. These wet worlds can be found in our very own Solar System, and planetary scientists are shooting straight for them with the next generation of space missions, destined to unlock their true potential to hold life. As Morgan Cable, an astrobiologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, tells All About Space, the rules of physics and chemistry seem to apply everywhere, but we haven’t tested this for biology…

5 issue highlights

Stars powered by dark matter Dominating the early universe, we could have them to thank for our existence 36 Solar System’s strangest moons Meet the quirkiest worlds in our cosmic backyard and learn how they came to be 28 “Why I reinvented space and time” Our interview with 2019 Nobel Prize winner James Peebles 24 Inside red giant Betelgeuse Astronomers are waiting for it to explode, but why has it been acting strange? 46 Take award-winning photos Winners of Astronomy Photographer of the Year offer their tips and tricks 62…

launch pad

Meet the Meathook Galaxy The long-serving Hubble Space Telescope continued to capture stunning sights of the universe throughout August and September. One fruit of its imaging surveys is this spectacular close-up of NGC 2442, also known as the Meathook Galaxy. The structure gets its nickname thanks to its asymmetrical and irregular shape. In March 2015, the Meathook captured the attention of astronomers when one of its white dwarf stars exploded as a supernova, creating an eruption of light so dazzling it was visible from Earth for several months. Spitzer sees a star factory in infrared NASA’s recently retired Spitzer Space Telescope was capable of revealing aspects of space invisible to the human eye. It was fixated on infrared, observing in a wavelength longer than visible light. In this image, Spitzer honed in on ‘star factory’…

new research finds that the moon is rusty

The Moon is turning ever so slightly red, and it’s likely Earth’s fault. Our planet’s atmosphere may be causing the Moon to rust. Rust, also known as iron oxide, is a reddish compound that forms when iron is exposed to water and oxygen. Rust is the result of a common chemical reaction for nails, gates, the Grand Canyon’s red rocks – and even Mars. The Red Planet is nicknamed after its reddish hue that comes from the rust it acquired long ago when iron on its surface combined with oxygen and water. But not all celestial environments are optimal for rusting, especially our dry, atmosphere-free Moon. “It’s very puzzling,” said Shuai Li, an assistant researcher at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa’s Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology. “The Moon is…

the andromeda galaxy’s halo is more massive than initially thought

Galactic halos are both more massive and more complicated than scientists realised, according to new Hubble observations. The venerable telescope turned its sights on the neighbouring Andromeda Galaxy using dozens of different quasars to map the galactic halo. Andromeda, more formally known as Messier 31, is a spiral-shaped galaxy about the same size of the Milky Way we live in, with about 1 trillion stars. Cosmically it’s right next door, just 2.5 million light years away, which means that Hubble can study its halo in unprecedented detail. “This is truly a unique experiment because only with Andromeda do we have information on its halo along not only one or two sightlines, but over 40,” said Nicolas Lehner, an astrophysicist at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. “This is groundbreaking for…

same black hole can collide with its kin multiple times, lopsided merger suggests

For black holes, a collision doesn’t have to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. On 12 April 2019, scientists detected a new black hole merger using a trio of gravitational-wave detectors. Astrophysicists have spotted such events before, but something about the signals was different: the two black holes that collided were incredibly unevenly matched, with the larger about three times the size of the smaller. “This event is an oddball the universe has thrown at us – it was something we didn’t see coming,” said Salvatore Vitale, a physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “But nothing happens just once in the universe. And something like this, though rare, we will see again, and we’ll be able to say more about the universe.” Vitale and his colleagues suspect that the strange collision occurred after…