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Early star formation is a bit of a puzzle for astronomers.
Science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke famously predicted that we'd see space elevators 50 years after people stopped laughing at the idea. Jerome Pearson has been thinking about space elevators since the early 1970s, and he's been watching the growing enthusiasm (and fading chuckles) with great interest. But he knows there are significant challenges in engineering and materials that still need to be overcome, so he's suggesting NASA build an elevator on the Moon first. And the agency is taking the idea seriously.
Scientists believed they'd finally reached the limits of microbial life with the heart of the Atacama desert in Chile. This desert is so dry, parts of it only receive one rainfall every decade or so, and NASA uses it as a model for the search for life on Mars. But researchers from the University of Arizona have discovered that life's here too. They dug up soil samples from 20 to 30 cm (8 to 12 inches) below ground, and then added completely sterile water and let the samples sit for 10 days. They were then able to grow unusual bacteria from the samples and analyze their DNA.
Early star formation is a bit of a puzzle for astronomers, since all the stars that we can see formed out of molecular gas and dust, which are produced in stars. How did the first ones form without any gas and dust? One class of galaxies, called Blue Dwarf Galaxies may offer some clues. They contain interstellar clouds which are similar to the material that would have been present in the early Universe. And these Galaxies can have active regions of furious star formation. New research from the European Southern Observatory has targeted one of these Blue Dwarfs to try and understand the process better.
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