Institute of Astronomy

Astronomy News

NASA's Spitzer Telescope Witnesses Asteroid Smashup

28 August 2014 - 5:00pm
NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has spotted an eruption of dust around a young star, possibly the result of a smashup between large asteroids. This type of collision can eventually lead to the formation of planets.

Experiment tests whether universe is a hologram

28 August 2014 - 4:07pm
A new device searching for fundamental units of space and time has officially started taking data, and could reveal new features of the nature of reality






Dead stars 'can re-ignite' and blow

28 August 2014 - 4:03pm
Astronomers have shown that dead stars known as white dwarfs can re-ignite and explode as supernovas.

A mixed-up magnetic storm

28 August 2014 - 10:08am
The Sun is a variable star, experiencing 11-year-long cycles of activity which impact our planet and near-Earth space. Forecasting the changing space weather and the effects it will have on Earth remains a challenge, as illustrated by an unusual magnetic storm that was observed by ESA’s Cluster quartet and one of the Chinese-ESA Double Star spacecraft.

Vibrations in rings reveal Saturn's inner secrets

27 August 2014 - 7:30pm
Eavesdropping on Saturn's rings has given us clues about surprises in the gas giant's interior






Vibrations in rings reveal Saturn's inner secrets

27 August 2014 - 7:30pm
Eavesdropping on Saturn's rings has given us clues about surprises in the gas giant's interior






Source of sun's power revealed by ghostly particles

27 August 2014 - 6:00pm
The first detection of neutrinos produced by fusion in the sun confirms that our star has been stable for millions of years






Supernova find backs dark energy and universe expansion

27 August 2014 - 6:00pm
The first evidence that type Ia supernovae are thermonuclear explosions solidifies one of the cornerstones to the discovery of dark energy






NASA Telescopes Help Uncover Early Construction Phase Of Giant Galaxy

27 August 2014 - 6:00pm

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The birth of massive galaxies, according to galaxy formation theories, begins with the buildup of a dense, compact core that is ablaze with the glow of millions of newly formed stars. Evidence of this early construction phase, however, has eluded astronomers until now. Astronomers identified a dense galactic core, dubbed "Sparky," using a combination of data from Hubble and Spitzer, other space telescopes, and the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii. Hubble photographed the emerging galaxy as it looked 11 billion years ago, just 3 billion years after the birth of our universe in the big bang.

Witnessing the early growth of a giant - First ever sighting of galaxy core formation [heic1418]

27 August 2014 - 6:00pm
Astronomers have uncovered for the first time the earliest stages of a massive galaxy forming in the young Universe. The discovery was made possible through combining observations from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, ESA's Herschel Space Observatory, and the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii. The growing galaxy core is blazing with the light of millions of newborn stars that are forming at a ferocious rate. The paper appears in the journal Nature on 27 August.

INTEGRAL catches dead star exploding in a blaze of glory

27 August 2014 - 6:00pm
Astronomers using ESA's INTEGRAL gamma-ray observatory have demonstrated beyond doubt that dead stars known as white dwarfs can reignite and explode as supernovae.

Source of sun's power revealed by ghostly particles

27 August 2014 - 6:00pm
The first detection of neutrinos produced inside the sun confirms that our star is powered by nuclear fusion and has been stable for millions of years






Supernova find backs dark energy and universe expansion

27 August 2014 - 6:00pm
The first evidence that type Ia supernovae are thermonuclear explosions solidifies one of the cornerstones to the discovery of dark energy






NASA Telescopes Uncover Early Construction of Giant Galaxy

27 August 2014 - 5:00pm
Astronomers have for the first time caught a glimpse of the earliest stages of massive galaxy construction. The building site, dubbed “Sparky,” is a dense galactic core blazing with the light of millions of newborn stars that are forming at a ferocious rate.

Astronomy: Collision history written in rock

27 August 2014 - 1:00am

Astronomy: Collision history written in rock

Nature 512, 7515 (2014). doi:10.1038/512350c

Meteorites recovered in California have yielded details about their collision-filled journey from the Solar System's asteroid belt.The fragments (pictured) originated from a meteoroid whose fiery descent lit up the night sky over San Francisco in 2012. Peter Jenniskens of NASA's Ames Research

Astrobiology: Cosmic prestige

27 August 2014 - 1:00am

Astrobiology: Cosmic prestige

Nature 512, 7515 (2014). doi:10.1038/512368a

Author: Mario Livio

Mario Livio welcomes a lucid description of attempts to evaluate how special humans are.

Astrophysics: Supernova seen through γ-ray eyes

27 August 2014 - 1:00am

Astrophysics: Supernova seen through γ-ray eyes

Nature 512, 7515 (2014). doi:10.1038/512375a

Authors: Robert P. Kirshner

Observations of γ-ray photons from a type Ia supernova indicate that stellar explosions of this kind get their energy from sudden thermonuclear fusion in the progenitor star. See Letter p.406

Neutrinos from the primary proton–proton fusion process in the Sun

27 August 2014 - 1:00am

Neutrinos from the primary proton–proton fusion process in the Sun

Nature 512, 7515 (2014). doi:10.1038/nature13702

Authors:

In the core of the Sun, energy is released through sequences of nuclear reactions that convert hydrogen into helium. The primary reaction is thought to be the fusion of two protons with the emission of a low-energy neutrino. These so-called pp neutrinos constitute nearly

Neutrino physics: What makes the Sun shine

27 August 2014 - 1:00am

Neutrino physics: What makes the Sun shine

Nature 512, 7515 (2014). doi:10.1038/512378a

Authors: Wick Haxton

Neutrinos produced in the nuclear reaction that triggers solar-energy generation have been detected. This milestone in the search for solar neutrinos required a deep underground detector of exceptional sensitivity. See Article p.383

Cobalt-56 γ-ray emission lines from the type Ia supernova 2014J

27 August 2014 - 1:00am

Cobalt-56 γ-ray emission lines from the type Ia supernova 2014J

Nature 512, 7515 (2014). doi:10.1038/nature13672

Authors: E. Churazov, R. Sunyaev, J. Isern, J. Knödlseder, P. Jean, F. Lebrun, N. Chugai, S. Grebenev, E. Bravo, S. Sazonov & M. Renaud

A type Ia supernova is thought to be a thermonuclear explosion of either a single carbon–oxygen white dwarf or a pair of merging white dwarfs. The explosion fuses a large amount of radioactive 56Ni (refs 1–3). After the explosion, the decay chain from 56Ni to 56Co to 56Fe generates γ-ray photons, which are reprocessed in the expanding ejecta and give rise to powerful optical emission. Here we report the detection of 56Co lines at energies of 847 and 1,238 kiloelectronvolts and a γ-ray continuum in the 200–400 kiloelectronvolt band from the type Ia supernova 2014J in the nearby galaxy M82. The line fluxes suggest that about 0.6 ± 0.1 solar masses of radioactive 56Ni were synthesized during the explosion. The line broadening gives a characteristic mass-weighted ejecta expansion velocity of 10,000 ± 3,000 kilometres per second. The observed γ-ray properties are in broad agreement with the canonical model of an explosion of a white dwarf just massive enough to be unstable to gravitational collapse, but do not exclude merger scenarios that fuse comparable amounts of 56Ni.