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Luhman 16B is the nearest brown dwarf to Earth, and the third nearest star system to our solar system

Harry Mulisch: Novelist whose work was suffused with his memories of the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands

"She loved the modern Dutch literature, probably because, with the exception of a few authors, it is made up solely of a type of book designed for sophisticated young people which nobody reads after 25." So observes the narrator of Harry Mulisch's novel Two Women (1975). Despite his having started to write prolifically soon after the war, that sophisticated lesbian melodrama had been his only substantial work to finds its way into English until, in his fifties, he had international success with The Assault (1982). Leanly told, and slickly filmed a few years later, that bestselling novel is far from typical of a restless spirit who, forever haunted by the Occupation, throve upon writing in many forms and taking a different approach with each book, all of which, along with a sedulously projected public persona, made him the Anthony Burgess of the Netherlands.

Allan Sandage: Astronomer widely acknowledged as among the most outstanding of the 20th century

Allan Sandage, widely regarded as one of the greatest and most influential astro-nomers of the 20th century, played an integral part in increasing our understanding of the scale of the universe and determining the Hubble Constant, which describes the universe's expansion.

The Black Cloud, By Fred Hoyle

Sir Fred Hoyle was a mathematician and astronomer of the front rank, whose theory of how elements are formed – in stars, from hydrogen – was resoundingly right (although he seems to have been resoundingly wrong in dismissing the "Big Bang" theory, as he sarcastically dubbed it). He was also a sci-fi writer of some renown, and this is a welcome reprint of his best-known work, from 1957.

Hubble: Why the world-famous telescope will go out in a blaze of glory

When it blasted off 20 years ago, few thought it would succeed. But it showed us a universe we didn't know existed, says Nick Harding

Starburst observed 30 years ago may hide 'nearby' black hole

Astronomers believe they have witnessed the birth of a nearby black hole, formed when a massive star collapsed in on itself creating a gravitational field so strong that not even light could escape. The collapsed star, which was 20 times more massive than the Sun, created a stellar explosion, or supernova, in the M100 galaxy in the Virgo cluster, 50 million light years from Earth.

Is anybody out there – with a soul?

The galaxy could be filled with dozens of planets capable of supporting life, according to a new study. But finding ET would force many of us to think the theologically unthinkable, argues David Whitehouse.

Scientists get glimpse of universe as it was 13 billion years ago

The most distant object ever discovered takes researchers closer to the Big Bang

Serpentine's new marathon takes topographical route

The latest Serpentine Gallery annual “marathon” – a marathon series of debates by over 50 artists, poets, writers and philosophers, among others- takes places in London this weekend. The subject matter? Maps.

Not too hot, not too cold: could the 'Goldilocks' planet support life?

Astronomers excited by world 120,000 billion miles away in the Libra constellation

Leading article: Rife for life

For anyone living in the twilight world of the Earth, there must be something very reassuring about the discovery of a planet which could hold life in a zone between dark and light, hot and cold. It is in this intermediate part, say the scientists, that conditions could be right to provide the water and atmosphere necessary for life. Not necessarily a nice place to live or with beings to inhabit it, add the astronomers. But life nonetheless.

The water of life: A small world with huge potential

In the icy oceans of Enceladus, one of Saturn's tiny moons, scientists believe that there is proof that aliens exist. So why are there no plans to return to this mysterious miniature world?

A Place Of Secrets, By Rachel Hore

"How tiny and random are the events that shape our destiny". So begins Rachel Hore's intriguing Richard and Judy recommended read, which is layered with a series of mysteries, some more supernatural than others.

Astronomers discover 'monster' stars

Astronomers have discovered "monster" stars - whose size and brightness exceed what many scientists thought was possible.

Planet winds of 6,200mph

A powerful storm on a planet in another solar system has been spotted by astronomers. Winds blowing at 6,200mph were detected on the distant world, which orbits a Sun-like star 150 light years away. The "exoplanet" HD209458b has about 60 per cent the mass of Jupiter and is located near the constellation of Pegasus. Circling its parent star at just a 20th of the distance between the Earth and the Sun, it is heated to a temperature of 1,000C. But since the planet always has the same side facing the star, one half is very hot while the other is much cooler. "On Earth, big temperature differences inevitably lead to fierce winds, and as our new measurements reveal, the situation is no different on HD209458b," said Dr Simon Albrecht, one of the scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, US, whose research is reported in the journal Nature.

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