Institute of Astronomy

Astronomy News

Hubble's Window into the Cosmic Past

6 hours 5 sec ago

This image from the Hubble Space Telescope shows the galaxy cluster PLCK G004.5-19.5. It was discovered by the ESA Planck satellite through the Sunyaev-Zel’dovich effect — the distortion of the cosmic microwave background radiation in the direction of the galaxy cluster by high-energy electrons in the intracluster gas.

News Article Type: Homepage ArticlesPublished: Friday, February 16, 2018 - 10:10

The Milky Way’s big sister gets shrunk down to size

6 hours 26 sec ago

The Milky Way’s big sister gets shrunk down to size

The Milky Way’s big sister gets shrunk down to size, Published online: 16 February 2018; doi:10.1038/d41586-018-02192-x

The Andromeda galaxy might be only half as massive as thought.

Hubble Sees Neptune's Mysterious Shrinking Storm

16 February 2018 - 9:44am

Three billion miles away on the farthest known major planet in our solar system, an ominous, dark storm – once big enough to stretch across the Atlantic Ocean from Boston to Portugal – is shrinking out of existence as seen in pictures of Neptune taken by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.

News Article Type: Homepage ArticlesPublished: Thursday, February 15, 2018 - 14:10

Supermassive Black Holes Are Outgrowing Their Galaxies

16 February 2018 - 9:44am

The biggest black holes in the Universe are growing faster than the rate of stars being formed in their galaxies, according to two new studies using data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and other telescopes.

News Article Type: Homepage ArticlesPublished: Thursday, February 15, 2018 - 14:16

A Lonely Beauty [heic1803]

15 February 2018 - 9:10am
Beauty, grace, mystery – this magnificent spiral galaxy has all the qualities of a perfect galactic Valentine. Captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, the galaxy NGC 3344 presents itself face-on, allowing astronomers a detailed look at its intricate and elegant structure. And Hubble's ability to observe objects over a wide range of different wavelengths reveals features that would otherwise remain invisible.

Crypto-currency craze 'hinders search for alien life'

15 February 2018 - 9:09am

A scientist says the search for alien intelligence has been hit by a shortage of computer hardware.

ESO’s VLT Working as 16-metre Telescope for First Time

14 February 2018 - 8:57am
The ESPRESSO instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile has for the first time been used to combine light from all four of the 8.2-metre Unit Telescopes. Combining light from the Unit Telescopes in this way makes the VLT the largest optical telescope in existence in terms of collecting area.

Reprieve for Arecibo telescope

13 February 2018 - 10:12am
The US National Science Foundation (NSF) has announced that it will continue to support the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, which was hit by a hurricane on 20 September 2017.

A new cosmic messenger

13 February 2018 - 10:11am
The first observation of gravitational waves from two merging neutron stars that was recently made by the LIGO and Virgo detectors has – along with date from telescopes across the globe and in space – kicked off a new era in multimessenger astronomy. Imre Bartos describes this watershed moment, which crowned decades of research and will shape the future of observational astronomy

Perimeter Institute spins off new centre

13 February 2018 - 10:10am
A new centre that will aim to unravel the mysteries of dark matter and dark energy as well as study the Big Bang has been created by the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics (PI).

Deluge of astronomical data will soon hit South Africa

13 February 2018 - 10:09am

Deluge of astronomical data will soon hit South Africa

Deluge of astronomical data will soon hit South Africa , Published online: 09 February 2018; doi:10.1038/d41586-018-01838-0

The expansion of a telescope network creates a thirst for more data-handling expertise and infrastructure.

Leaky atmosphere linked to lightweight planet

13 February 2018 - 10:08am

The Red Planet's low gravity and lack of magnetic field makes its outermost atmosphere an easy target to be swept away by the solar wind, but new evidence from ESA's Mars Express spacecraft shows that the Sun's radiation may play a surprising role in its escape.

'Oumuamua: 'space cigar's' tumble hints at violent past

13 February 2018 - 10:07am

The 'Oumuamua asteroid from outside our Solar System was involved in a collision, a study finds.

TRAPPIST-1 Planets Probably Rich in Water

6 February 2018 - 1:26pm
A new study has found that the seven planets orbiting the nearby ultra-cool dwarf star TRAPPIST-1 are all made mostly of rock, and some could potentially hold more water than Earth. The planets' densities, now known much more precisely than before, suggest that some of them could have up to 5 percent of their mass in the form of water — about 250 times more than Earth's oceans. The hotter planets closest to their parent star are likely to have dense steamy atmospheres and the more distant ones probably have icy surfaces. In terms of size, density and the amount of radiation it receives from its star, the fourth planet out is the most similar to Earth. It seems to be the rockiest planet of the seven, and has the potential to host liquid water.

ESA creates quietest place in space

6 February 2018 - 1:25pm

Imagine a packed party: music is blaring and you can feel the bass vibrate in your chest, lights are flashing, balloons are falling from the ceiling and the air is filled with hundreds of separate conversations. At the same time your cell phone is vibrating in your pocket and your drink is fizzing in the glass. Now imagine you can block out this assault on your senses to create a perfectly quiet bubble around you, only letting in the unmistakable voice of your best friend who's trying to get your attention from the other side of the room.

Hubble delivers first insight into atmospheres of potentially habitable planets orbiting TRAPPIST-1 [heic1802]

6 February 2018 - 1:23pm

An international team of astronomers has used the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to look for atmospheres around four Earth-sized planets orbiting within or near TRAPPIST-1's habitable zone. The new results further support the terrestrial and potentially habitable nature of three of the studied planets. The results are published in Nature Astronomy.

The galactic smash that birthed a slew of stars

5 February 2018 - 9:33am

The galactic smash that birthed a slew of stars

The galactic smash that birthed a slew of stars, Published online: 02 February 2018; doi:10.1038/d41586-018-01598-x

Star clusters in nearby galaxies might have had a violent beginning.

Stellar winds behaving unexpectedly

5 February 2018 - 9:32am

ESA's XMM-Newton has spotted surprising changes in the powerful streams of gas from two massive stars, suggesting that colliding stellar winds don't behave as expected.

Design call for 'solar sentinel' mission

5 February 2018 - 9:29am

The UK will play a leading role in developing a spacecraft to warn of solar storms.

Glory From Gloom

1 February 2018 - 9:19am
A dark cloud of cosmic dust snakes across this spectacular wide field image, illuminated by the brilliant light of new stars. This dense cloud is a star-forming region called Lupus 3, where dazzlingly hot stars are born from collapsing masses of gas and dust. This image was created from images taken using the VLT Survey Telescope and the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope and is the most detailed image taken so far of this region.