Mars covered in toxic chemicals that can wipe out living organisms, tests reveal

Mars is bathed in ultra violet light which turns the Martian soil sterile. Photograph: Reuters

Discovery has major implications for hunt for alien life on the red planet as it means any evidence is likely to be buried deep underground

Getting to the bottom of the Higgs boson

In high-energy particle collisions we study the smallest known constituents of matter. According to our best knowledge of physics, these constituents have mass only because of the way they interact with a unique quantity which permeates all of space. This quantity, like practically everything else in the strange world of the very small, is a quantum field.

Biggest cosmic explosion ever detected left huge dent in space

Galaxy clusters are among the largest structures in the universe, containing thousands of individual galaxies, dark matter and hot gas. At the heart of the Ophiuchus cluster there is a large galaxy that contains a supermassive black hole with a mass equivalent to 10 millions suns.

Solar Orbiter spacecraft will capture the sun's north and south poles

The Solar Orbiter spacecraft, a joint Nasa and European Space Agency (ESA) mission, is set to be launched from Cape Canaveral just after 4am UK time on Monday morning, and will reach its vantage point above the planetary plane by the end of 2021.

My Friend, Albert Einstein

He was one of the greatest scientists the world has ever known, yet if I had to convey the essence of Albert Einstein in a single word, I would choose simplicity. Perhaps an anecdote will help. Once, caught in a downpour, he took off his hat and held it under his coat. Asked why, he explained, with admirable logic, that the rain would damage the hat, but his hair would be none the worse for its wetting. This knack for going instinctively to the heart of a matter was the secret of his major scientific discoveries- this and his extraordinary feeling for beauty.

Telescope captures most detailed pictures yet of the sun

First observations from Inouye telescope bring previously hazy star into sharp focus.
The striking images reveal a surprising level of structure hidden within the churning plasma exterior, bringing a previously hazy impression of the sun’s patchwork surface sharply into focus for the first time.

'Giant, shape-shifting stars' spotted near Milky Way's black hole

The Milky Way

Objects raise hopes of scientists managing to track ‘blobs’ being swallowed by black hole
A number of bizarre shape-shifting objects have been discovered close to the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way.
The blobs are thought to be giant stars that spend part of their orbits so close to the black hole that they get stretched out like bubble gum before returning to a compact, roughly spherical form.

Cosmic cats and nuclear blasts: the strange history of interstellar messages

From Sagan to Tesla, scientists have long puzzled over how to talk to extraterrestrial intelligence.
For the past 200 years, the problem of interstellar communication with an extraterrestrial intelligence has vexed some of the world’s greatest scientists and mathematicians. Carl Friedrich Gauss, the mathematician and inventor of the heliotrope, suggested using a large array of mirrors; Guglielmo Marconi and Nikola Tesla, pioneers of wireless communication, found a solution in radio waves; and John McCarthy and Marvin Minsky, the progenitors of artificial intelligence, wanted to send computers into space as our extraterrestrial envoys.