Lava deposits in Leilani Estates (Credit: B. Shiro, USGS)

The 2018 eruption of Kīlauea Volcano in Hawai‘i provided scientists with an unprecedented opportunity to identify new factors that could help forecast the hazard potential of future eruptions.

CLIPPIR diamonds by Robert Weldon, copyright GIA, courtesy Gem Diamonds Ltd.

Diamonds that formed deep in the Earth’s mantle contain evidence of chemical reactions that occurred on the seafloor. Probing these gems can help geoscientists understand how material is exchanged between the planet’s surface and its depths.

Mars mosaic courtesy of NASA

Carnegie’s Yingwei Fei is the namesake of an iron-titanuim oxide mineral discovered in a meteorite that originated on Mars. Caltech’s Chi Ma announced the find this week at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. Called Feiite with a composition of Fe3TiO5, the mineral formed during a violent impact on the Red Planet that sent the rock hurtling into space. 

Lizard Island National Park sign. Courtesy Ken Caldeira.

Algae colonizing dead coral are upending scientists’ ability to accurately assess the health of a coral reef community, according to new work from a team of marine science experts led by Carnegie’s Manoela Romanó de Orte and Ken Caldeira. “It’s long been thought that measuring calcium carbonate production could be linked directly to the health of a coral community,” Romanó de Orte said. “But our findings show that as algae increasingly succeed in overgrowing dead coral, it is going to be more difficult to rely on a once tried-and-true method for assessing whether a reef community is thriving.”

This artist's impression of the quasar P172+18. Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser.

The Magellan Baade telescope at Carnegie’s Las Campanas Observatory played an important role in the discovery of the most-distant known quasar with a bright radio emission, which was announced by a Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg and European Southern Observatory-led team and published in The Astrophysical Journal. One of the fastest-growing supermassive black holes ever observed, it is emitting about 580 times the energy as the entire Milky Way galaxy.

The Moon. Credit: Lick Observatory/ESA/Hubble

Volcanic rock samples collected during NASA’s Apollo missions bear the isotopic signature of key events in the early evolution of the Moon, a new analysis found. Those events include the formation of the Moon’s iron core, as well as the crystallization of the lunar magma ocean—the sea of molten rock thought to have covered the Moon for around 100 million years after the it formed. 

3D spatial distribution of 16 spectroscopically confirmed proto-clusters.

An international team of astronomers grouped in the LAGER consortium (Lyman Alpha Galaxies in the Epoch of Reionization), integrated by Leopoldo Infante, Director of Carnegie's Las Campanas Observatory, and postdoctoral researcher Jorge González-López, discovered the most-distant cluster of galaxies, or protocluster, of high density ever observed. This study, published in Nature, opens new avenues for understanding the evolution of high-density regions in the universe and the galaxies that compose them.

Photo of flowering Arabidopsis thaliana purchased from Shutterstock.

Understanding how plants respond to stressful environmental conditions is crucial to developing effective strategies for protecting important agricultural crops from a changing climate. New research led by Carnegie’s Zhiyong Wang, Shouling, Xu, and Yang Bi reveals an important process by which plants switch between amplified and dampened stress responses. “Understanding how plants make cellular decisions by integrating environmental and internal information is important for improving plant resilience and productivity in a changing climate,” Wang concluded. 

Artist's conception of Farfarout. Credit: NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/J. da Silva.

A team of astronomers, including Carnegie’s Scott Sheppard, David Tholen from the University of Hawaiʻi Institute for Astronomy, and Chad Trujillo from Northern Arizona University have discovered discovered the most distant object ever observed in our Solar System. Officially called 2018 AG37, the object is nicknamed Farfarout for just how far away from the Sun it is orbiting—about 132 AU, where 1 AU is the distance between the Earth and Sun. At that distance, it takes an entire millennium to orbit the Sun.

Illustration of lab-mimicry of exoplanet interiors by Carnegie's Katherine Cain/

New research led by Carnegie’s Yingwei Fei provides a framework for understanding the interiors of super-Earths—rocky exoplanets between 1.5 and 2 times the size of our home planet—which is a prerequisite to assess their potential for habitability.  Planets of this size are among the most abundant in exoplanetary systems. For decades, Carnegie researchers have been leaders at recreating the conditions of planetary interiors by putting small samples of material under immense pressures and high temperatures. But sometimes even these techniques reach their limitations. The he world's most powerful, magnetically-driven pulsed power machine at Sandia National Laboratories enabled a breakthrough.  

Figure from Energy and Environmental Science paper

Palo Alto, CA— What if we could increase a plant’s productivity by modifying the light to which it is exposed?

Vicinity of Tucana II ultra-faint dwarf galaxy. Credit: Anirudh Chiti/MIT.

An MIT-led team of astronomers that includes Carnegie’s Joshua Simon, Lina Necib, and Alexander Ji has discovered an unexpected outer suburb of stars on the distant fringes of the dwarf galaxy Tucana II. Their detection, published by Nature Astronomy, confirms that the cosmos’ oldest galaxies formed inside massive clumps of dark matter—what astronomers refer to as a “dark matter halo”.

A giant star being slowly devoured by a black hole courtesy of NASA Goddard.

In a case of cosmic mistaken identity, an international team of astronomers revealed that what they once thought was a supernova is actually periodic flaring from a galaxy where a supermassive black hole gives off bursts of energy every 114 days as it tears off chunks of an orbiting star. Six years after its initial discovery—reported in The Astronomer’s Telegram by Carnegie’s Thomas Holoien—the researchers, led by Anna Payne of University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, can now say that the phenomenon they observed, called ASASSN-14ko, is a periodically recurring flare from the center of a galaxy more than 570 million light-years away in the southern constellation Pictor.

Rough diamond photograph purchased from iStock

Minerals are the most durable, information-rich objects we can study to understand our planet’s origin and evolution. The current approach to categorizing minerals doesn’t work well for planetary and other historically oriented geosciences, where the emphasis is on understanding the formation and development of planetary bodies. Carnegie's Robert Hazen and Shaunna Morrison along with philosophy of science expert Carol Cleland of CU Boulder advocate for a new evolutionary approach to classifying minerals that complements the existing protocols and offers an opportunity to rigorously document Earth’s history.

Heart Reef in Australia's Great Barrier Reef, public domain.

The CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing system can help scientists understand, and possibly improve, how corals respond to the environmental stresses of climate change. Work led by Phillip Cleves—who joined Carnegie’s Department of Embryology this fall—details how the revolutionary, Nobel Prize-winning technology can be deployed to guide conservation efforts for fragile reef ecosystems.

If every country in the world started to cut emissions by 2 percent annually in 2020, the world would warm to the climate-stabilizing Paris Agreement goal of 2 degrees Celsius over the pre-industrial era. However, lead author Carnegie's Lei Duan explained, “we determined that if decarbonization began only when a country reached a $10,000 per capita GDP, it would cause less than 0.3 degrees Celsius additional warming. This demonstrates that the onus of fighting climate change really falls on the shoulders of more developed nations.”

It is perhaps a huge understatement to say that our human footprint upon planet Earth is creating a host of challenges for all of us

Lord of Ludlow Martin Rees will discuss his vision for