Institute of Astronomy

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Interstellar asteroid checked for alien technology

Astronomy News - 13 December 2017 - 9:24am

A project searching for life in the cosmos will scan the first interstellar asteroid for signs of alien technology.

Jupiter Great Red Spot has deep roots

Astronomy News - 13 December 2017 - 9:24am

Nasa's Juno probe begins to unlock the workings of the mighty storm that has raged on Jupiter for over 150 years.

Nasa's New Horizons probe strikes distant gold

Astronomy News - 13 December 2017 - 9:23am

New observations suggest America's Pluto probe will see more than one object on its next flyby.

Geminids Meteor Shower Peak Dec 13-14

Astronomy News - 11 December 2017 - 10:05am

The annual Geminid meteor shower has arrived. It's a good time to bundle up, go outside and let the universe blow your mind!

News Article Type: Homepage ArticlesPublished: Friday, December 8, 2017 - 16:12

The labs that forge distant planets here on Earth

Astronomy News - 11 December 2017 - 10:02am

The labs that forge distant planets here on Earth

Nature 552, 7683 (2017). http://www.nature.com/doifinder/10.1038/d41586-017-07844-y

Author: Shannon Hall

High-pressure experiments explore what it might take to make exoplanets habitable

A black hole’s outburst offers clues to its magnetic field

Astronomy News - 11 December 2017 - 10:00am

A black hole’s outburst offers clues to its magnetic field

A black hole’s outburst offers clues to its magnetic field, Published online: 08 December 2017; doi:10.1038/d41586-017-08406-y

The details illuminate the formation of black-hole jets.

NASA Hosts Media Teleconference to Announce Latest Kepler Discovery

Astronomy News - 11 December 2017 - 10:00am
NASA will host a media teleconference at 1 p.m. EST Thursday, Dec. 14, to announce the latest discovery made by its planet-hunting Kepler space telescope.

Herschel data links mysterious quasar winds to furious starbursts

Astronomy News - 11 December 2017 - 9:59am

Astronomers have used ESA's Herschel Space Observatory to solve a decades-old mystery about the origin of powerful cool gas winds in the hot environs of quasars. The evidence linking these powerful winds to star formation in the quasar host galaxies may also help resolve the mystery of why the size of galaxies in the Universe appears to be capped.

Voyager 1 Fires Up Thrusters After 37 Years

Astronomy News - 6 December 2017 - 9:09am

If you tried to start a car that's been sitting in a garage for decades, you might not expect the engine to respond. But a set of thrusters aboard the Voyager 1 spacecraft successfully fired up Wednesday after 37 years without use.

News Article Type: Homepage ArticlesPublished: Tuesday, December 5, 2017 - 12:57

Extreme radiation around small stars may not doom life nearby

Astronomy News - 5 December 2017 - 9:19am

Red and white dwarfs make nasty neighbours due to spurts of deadly radiation, but alien life could still form on planets nearby if shielded by smog or oceans

Blazar spectral variability as explained by a twisted inhomogeneous jet

Astronomy News - 5 December 2017 - 9:19am

Blazar spectral variability as explained by a twisted inhomogeneous jet

Blazar spectral variability as explained by a twisted inhomogeneous jet, Published online: 04 December 2017; doi:10.1038/nature24623

The spectral variability of the blazar CTA 102 during a recent extreme outburst could be explained by a twisted, inhomogeneous jet containing regions of different orientations that vary in time.

What big planets have in common with failed stars

Astronomy News - 5 December 2017 - 9:18am

What big planets have in common with failed stars

What big planets have in common with failed stars, Published online: 04 December 2017; doi:10.1038/d41586-017-07874-6

‘Gas giant’ exoplanets have an uncanny resemblance to galactic oddities called brown dwarfs.

Giant Black Hole Pair Photobombs Andromeda Galaxy

Astronomy News - 4 December 2017 - 9:28am

It seems like even black holes can’t resist the temptation to insert themselves unannounced into photographs. A cosmic photobomb found as a background object in images of the nearby Andromeda galaxy has revealed what could be the most tightly coupled pair of supermassive black holes ever seen.

News Article Type: Homepage ArticlesPublished: Friday, December 1, 2017 - 17:07

Unesco adds Sir Isaac Newton's papers to world register

Astronomy News - 4 December 2017 - 9:26am

Sir Isaac Newton's papers and personal accounts are added to a Unesco register of globally important documents.

What is a 'supermoon'?

Astronomy News - 4 December 2017 - 9:26am

Tom Kerrs from the Royal Observatory explains the phenomenon that causes the moon to look larger and brighter.

A Supermoon Trilogy

Astronomy News - 1 December 2017 - 9:30am
Video Length: 3:43

A series of three supermoons will appear on the celestial stage on December 3, 2017, January 1, 2018, and January 31, 2018.

Read this story

Video Links: A Supermoon Trilogy - mp4YouTubeVimeo

Weird tiny galaxies found hiding in Hubble’s Ultra Deep Field

Astronomy News - 30 November 2017 - 9:41am

We just found 72 new galaxies in one of the most studied areas of the sky. We can’t see their stars, but they were revealed by the glow of hydrogen gas

Cuts likely for one of NASA’s next big space-based telescopes

Astronomy News - 30 November 2017 - 9:40am

NASA’s Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope is crippled by rising costs. To get it off the ground, the agency may have to alter its scientific mission

Measurement of the multi-TeV neutrino interaction cross-section with IceCube using Earth absorption

Astronomy News - 30 November 2017 - 9:39am

Measurement of the multi-TeV neutrino interaction cross-section with IceCube using Earth absorption

Nature 551, 7682 (2017). doi:10.1038/nature24459

Authors:

Neutrinos interact only very weakly, so they are extremely penetrating. The theoretical neutrino–nucleon interaction cross-section, however, increases with increasing neutrino energy, and neutrinos with energies above 40 teraelectronvolts (TeV) are expected to be absorbed as they pass through the Earth. Experimentally, the cross-section has been determined only at the relatively low energies (below 0.4 TeV) that are available at neutrino beams from accelerators. Here we report a measurement of neutrino absorption by the Earth using a sample of 10,784 energetic upward-going neutrino-induced muons. The flux of high-energy neutrinos transiting long paths through the Earth is attenuated compared to a reference sample that follows shorter trajectories. Using a fit to the two-dimensional distribution of muon energy and zenith angle, we determine the neutrino–nucleon interaction cross-section for neutrino energies 6.3–980 TeV, more than an order of magnitude higher than previous measurements. The measured cross-section is about 1.3 times the prediction of the standard model, consistent with the expectations for charged- and neutral-current interactions. We do not observe a large increase in the cross-section with neutrino energy, in contrast with the predictions of some theoretical models, including those invoking more compact spatial dimensions or the production of leptoquarks. This cross-section measurement can be used to set limits on the existence of some hypothesized beyond-standard-model particles, including leptoquarks.

MUSE Probes Uncharted Depths of Hubble Ultra Deep Field

Astronomy News - 30 November 2017 - 9:36am
Astronomers using the MUSE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile have conducted the deepest spectroscopic survey ever. They focused on the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, measuring distances and properties of 1600 very faint galaxies including 72 galaxies that have never been detected before, even by Hubble itself. This groundbreaking dataset has already resulted in 10 science papers that are being published in a special issue of Astronomy & Astrophysics. This wealth of new information is giving astronomers insight into star formation in the early Universe, and allows them to study the motions and other properties of early galaxies — made possible by MUSE’s unique spectroscopic capabilities.