Institute of Astronomy

Astronomy News

Hubble Space Telescope Celebrates 25 Years of Unveiling the Universe

24 April 2015 - 9:57am

Get larger image formats

NASA and ESA are celebrating the Hubble Space Telescope's silver anniversary of 25 years in space by unveiling some of nature's own fireworks a giant cluster of about 3,000 stars called Westerlund 2. The cluster resides inside a vibrant stellar breeding ground known as Gum 29, located 20,000 light-years away in the constellation Carina. The comparatively young, 2-million-year-old star cluster contains some of our galaxy's hottest, brightest, and most massive stars. The largest stars are unleashing a torrent of ultraviolet light and hurricane-force winds that etch away the enveloping hydrogen gas cloud. This creates a fantasy celestial landscape of pillars, ridges, and valleys.

Celestial fireworks celebrate Hubble's 25th anniversary [heic1509]

24 April 2015 - 9:56am

The glittering tapestry of young stars flaring to life in this new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image aptly resembles an exploding shell in a fireworks display. This vibrant image of the star cluster Westerlund 2 has been released to celebrate Hubble's 25th year in orbit and a quarter of a century of new discoveries, stunning images and outstanding science.

NASA Unveils Celestial Fireworks as Official Image for Hubble 25th Anniversary

24 April 2015 - 9:55am
The brilliant tapestry of young stars flaring to life resemble a glittering fireworks display in the 25th anniversary NASA Hubble Space Telescope image, released to commemorate a quarter century of exploring the solar system and beyond since its launch on April 24, 1990.

Biggest dark matter detector lies in wait for antisocial WIMPs

24 April 2015 - 9:54am

The world's most sensitive dark matter detector is poised to join the hunt for WIMPs, the world's most elusive particles

VIDEO: How Hubble opened up the Universe

24 April 2015 - 9:44am

As Nasa prepares to unveil a new image to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope, the BBC's Jane McCubbin reports on how it has enhanced our appreciation of the Universe.

Hubble issues 25th birthday image

24 April 2015 - 9:44am

The Hubble Space Telescope celebrates its silver anniversary with a picture featuring a spectacular vista of young stars blazing through a dense cloud of gas and dust.

VIDEO: Hubble Telescope's 25 years in images

24 April 2015 - 9:43am

As the Hubble Telescope celebrates its 25th anniversary, BBC News looks back at some of its greatest moments - and images.

First Exoplanet Visible Light Spectrum

23 April 2015 - 10:01am
Astronomers using the HARPS planet-hunting machine at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile have made the first-ever direct detection of the spectrum of visible light reflected off an exoplanet. These observations also revealed new properties of this famous object, the first exoplanet ever discovered around a normal star: 51 Pegasi b. The result promises an exciting future for this technique, particularly with the advent of next generation instruments, such as ESPRESSO, on the VLT, and future telescopes, such as the E-ELT.

As bright as a hundred million Suns: the clusters of monster stars that lit up t...

23 April 2015 - 10:00am
As bright as a hundred million Suns: the clusters of monster stars that lit up the early universe

New #MNRAS paper by DeSouza & Basu on the formation of the first stars.

As bright as a hundred million Suns: the clusters of monster stars that lit up the early universe
The first stars in the Universe were born several hundred million years after the Big Bang, ending a period known as the cosmological 'dark ages' – when atoms of hydrogen and helium had formed, but nothing shone in visible light. Now two Canadian res

Falling meteor may have changed the course of Christianity

23 April 2015 - 9:53am

The early evangelist Paul became a Christian because of a dazzling light on the road to Damascus, but one astronomer thinks it was an exploding meteor

Climate scientists join search for alien Earths

23 April 2015 - 9:48am

Climate scientists join search for alien Earths

Nature 520, 7548 (2015).

Author: Jeff Tollefson

NASA initiative seeks to bolster interdisciplinary science in hunt for extraterrestrial life.

Astrophysics: Many flavours of supernova

23 April 2015 - 9:47am

Astrophysics: Many flavours of supernova

Nature 520, 7548 (2015). doi:10.1038/520411d

Exploding stars grouped in one family because of their similarities actually form two distinct groups. This may have important cosmic implications because the explosions, called supernovae, are the primary evidence that the Universe's expansion is accelerating.Half of type Ia supernovae seem to have similar

Elections for RAS President and Council are open. We encourage all Fellows to v...

22 April 2015 - 10:28am
Elections for RAS President and Council are open.

We encourage all Fellows to vote and have their say in the running of the Society! Electronic voting closes at noon on 7 May, paper votes the next day.

2015 elections of RAS President & Council
Elections for President and Councillors of the RAS are now open.The RAS Council is the governing body of the Society, and is led by the President. In 2015, elections are being held for the position of President and five Councillors. In addition, tw

Earth Day Meteor Shower

22 April 2015 - 10:25am
At the end of a day devoted to Earth, people can look to the heavens for a beautiful shower of Lyrid meteors.

NASA Wants You … to Help Name Stuff on Pluto

22 April 2015 - 10:24am
When NASA's New Horizons spacecraft flies by Pluto this July, the spacecraft's high-resolution cameras will spot many new landforms on the dwarf planet's unexplored surface. They are all going to need names—and NASA wants you to help.

Stars throw out a lifetime's waste carbon in just 1000 years

22 April 2015 - 10:23am
A star has been seen spewing carbon from its core into space, where it might form organic molecules useful for life, but the speed of the expulsion was a surprise

Ceres' bright spots back in view

22 April 2015 - 10:00am

The mysterious bright spots on the dwarf planet Ceres are back in view.

The "largest individual structure ever identified by humanity" has been found....

21 April 2015 - 9:54am
The "largest individual structure ever identified by humanity" has been found.

New #MNRAS paper by Szapudi et al. finds a supervoid 1.3 billion light-years across, which may explain the Cold Spot in the cosmic microwave background.

Cold Spot suggests largest structure in Universe: a supervoid 1.3 billion light years across
Astronomers may have found "the largest individual structure ever identified by humanity", according to Dr István Szapudi of the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Dr Szapudi and his team report their findings in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal

Rosetta's comet throws out big jet

21 April 2015 - 9:45am

Europe's Rosetta probe catches its comet quarry in the act of producing a huge jet of gas and dust.

NASA’s New Horizons Spacecraft Nears Historic July 14 Encounter with Pluto

20 April 2015 - 9:41am
NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is three months from returning to humanity the first-ever close up images and scientific observations of distant Pluto and its system of large and small moons.