This January, the American Astronomical Society held its big annual meeting completely online. The Covid-19 pandemic ruled out the society’s planned gathering in Scottsdale, AZ but the AAS pivoted by opening-up digital access to thousands of astronomers across the United States and around the world. More than 3,000 registrants were listed in the online portal, thus demonstrating that the vital communication of astronomical research, education, and public outreach could carry on in this alternative format.
If the Big Bang theory is correct, how fast is the universe expanding? Astronomers are facing a troubling disconnect between different methods used to measure the expansion rate, known as the Hubble constant. The two methods are giving similar but slightly different rates. Either one method is providing inaccurate results, or there is some kind of unknown physics operating in the universe.
...What we have come to appreciate is the seminal role played by clustered star formation in driving the physical and chemical evolution of the galaxies that host these stellar nurseries. Such concentrated sites of newborn stars along with their nebular environs constitute what are known as galactic ecosystems. These energized realms represent vital “crucibles” for growing the chemical complexity that is necessary for biotic processes.
Are we alone or do we share our solar system and galaxy with other forms of life? And how widespread are advanced civilizations with whom we could communicate? Right now we don’t have answers to these profound questions. But scientists are in hot pursuit...