Michelle Starr, ScienceAlert

Michelle Starr


Sydney, NSW, Australia

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Recent articles by Michelle:

Astronaut Pee Could Be a Great Building Material For Future Moon Bases

If we humans want to go live on the Moon - which we are planning to do - we're going to have to have something to actually live in. Small landers may have worked for the brief duration of the Apollo missions, but for longer-term stays, we're going → Read More

Astronomers Observe Blasting Supermassive Black Hole Jets From The Early Universe

In the far reaches of the Universe, astronomers have managed to capture a rare interaction. As a supermassive black hole ravenously slurps down matter around it, it's sending out jets of plasma - pushing into and heating the gas in the galaxy around → Read More

Mars Could Have at Least Two Ancient Reservoirs of Water Deep Underground

Mars. Water. You'd never find two more unlikely companions, even in a buddy cop movie. But once upon a time, the dry, red dustbowl of Mars was lush and soggy. → Read More

Need a Distraction? Watch This Amazing Timelapse of a Baby Horseshoe Crab Moulting

Ever wondered how a growing horseshoe crab wriggles its way out of a shell that's grown too small? A new timelapse video lets you watch the fascinating process in action as a young horseshoe crab moults, leaving you wondering how it even fit into t → Read More

Necroplanetology: The Strangest Field of Astronomy You've Never Heard Of

In 2015, astronomers found something weird. It was a white dwarf star, 570 light-years from Earth, with a peculiar dimming pattern. It dimmed several times to varying depths, each depth repeating on a 4.5 to 5-hour timeframe; and its atmosphere was → Read More

A New Analysis Has Failed to Find a Dark Matter 'Glow' in The Milky Way's Halo

Once again, a search for signs of dark matter outside its gravitational effect has turned up zilch - but this time it's a little more controversial. Astronomers peering into empty space have not found an X-ray glow hypothesised to be the product of o → Read More

The Atmosphere of Uranus Is Literally Leaking Gas Into Space

Poor old Uranus just can't seem to catch a break. Something already tipped the planet on its side, so its orbit is perpendicular to those of the other Solar System planets. It probably smells terrible. And now scientists have discovered that the at → Read More

Quasars Can Trigger Tsunamis That Tear Across Galaxies And Snuff Out Star Formation

It's well known that quasars are the most luminous galaxies in the Universe, spewing insane amounts of radiation across space as their supermassive black holes rapaciously devour material from a colossal accretion disc. → Read More

Just Three Orbiting Black Holes Can Break Time-Reversal Symmetry, Physicists Find

Most of the laws of physics don't care which direction time is travelling. Forwards, backwards… either way, the laws work exactly the same. Newtonian physics, general relativity - time is irrelevant to the mathematics: This is called time-reversa → Read More

Astronomers Think They Just Found The Edge of The Milky Way Galaxy

When you're right in the middle of something, it's pretty hard to tell exactly how big it is. Like the Milky Way galaxy, for instance. We can't exactly go take a picture of it from the outside, so our best estimates rely on distance measurements to o → Read More

It Looks Like That Interstellar Comet Came All The Way to The Solar System to Die

A comet that entered our Solar System from interstellar space may not make it out again. As it zooms away from the Sun, 2I/Borisov has been spotted spewing out material in two cometary outbursts. → Read More

This Galaxy Cluster May Have Just Dealt a Major Blow to String Theory

In the heart of a galaxy cluster 200 million light-years away, astronomers have failed to detect hypothetical particles called axions. → Read More

Find Your Serenity in These Awe-Inspiring Views of Earth From Space

From our vantage point here on the surface, it might not seem like it sometimes, but we live on a breathtakingly gorgeous world. And it's incredibly special. Of all the over 4,000 exoplanets scientists have found out there in the wider galaxy so fa → Read More

A Curious Discovery in 9th Century Chinese Noblewoman's Grave Points to Donkey Polo

Humans and animals have a long and beautiful history together, but a noblewoman named Cui Shi from the Tang Dynasty presents a rare first. She loved her donkeys so much that she was buried with them – together in death, perhaps, as they were in l → Read More

There Are Infinite Rings of Light Around Black Holes. Here's How We Could See Them

A year ago, history was made. The long, painstaking work of scientists around the globe produced the very first direct image of the event horizon of a black hole, a supermassive monster called M87* 55 million light-years away. That glorious, golden → Read More

This Ancient Fish Represents The Earliest Known Evolutionary Evidence of Fingers

The four-limbed animals of the world have several things in common. Spines. Bilateral symmetry. And most of us have (or, in the case of birds, had) five digits at the end of each of our four limbs. → Read More

The Supermassive Black Hole at The Centre of Our Galaxy Is Becoming More Active

Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way, isn't exactly rowdy. It's not classified as an active galactic nucleus - one of those galactic cores that glow exceedingly brightly as they feast on copious amounts of mate → Read More

The Conditions on Mars May Have Once Been Hospitable to RNA

The prospects of ancient life forming on Mars just got a little more likely. Scientists have determined that in the planet's distant past, conditions could have been just right for the formation of RNA molecules. → Read More

Astronomers Just Found The First Ever Exoplanet That Swoops Outside The Galactic Plane

To date, we humans have positively identified over 4,000 exoplanets in the Milky Way galaxy. And, to date, all of those exoplanets have something in common: they're located in the relatively flat disc of the galactic plane, the thin disc. → Read More

There's a New Hypothesis For How Uranus Ended Up Tipped on Its Side

Uranus is quite the individual. Most of the planets in our Solar System have their poles more or less oriented in the same direction. And most of them are spinning anticlockwise, when viewed from above. But Uranus? Its poles are oriented 98 degrees → Read More