Astrochemistry: August 2012

Using combined data from a trio of orbiting X-ray telescopes, including NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Japan-led Suzaku satellite, astronomers have obtained a rare glimpse of the powerful phenomena that accompany a still-forming star. A new study based on these observations indicates that intense magnetic fields drive torrents of gas into the stellar surface, where they heat large areas to millions of degrees. X-rays emitted by these hot spots betray the newborn star's rapid rotation. [Source: NAI]

A new study, supported in part by the NASA Astrobiology Institute, suggests that meteorites and their parent asteroids are the most-likely sources of water on Earth. The research led by the Carnegie Institution for Science's Conel Alexander indicates that these rocks from space were the sources of early Earth's volatile elements -- which include hydrogen, nitrogen, and carbon -- and possibly organic material. Understanding if and how volatile elements were delivered to the early Earth is important in determining the origins of both water and life on our planet. This work was partially funded by NASA Cosmochemistry, the NASA Astrobiology Institute, Carnegie Institution of Canada, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the W.M. Keck Foundation, and the UK Cosmochemical Analysis Network. [Source: NAI]