Institute of Astronomy

Astronomy News

Star dust casts doubt on recent big bang wave result

15 April 2014 - 6:29pm
Dust left over from an exploding star could mimic the effect that primordial gravitational waves would have had on ancient cosmic light

Early air points to cold, dry Mars

15 April 2014 - 5:23pm
Scientists have worked out the characteristics of the air on Mars 3.6 billion years ago.

NASA Hosts Media Teleconference to Announce Latest Kepler Discovery

15 April 2014 - 5:00pm
NASA will host a news teleconference at 2 p.m. EDT Thursday, April 17, to announce a new discovery made by its planet-hunting mission, the Kepler Space Telescope.

Possible New Moon Forming Around Saturn

14 April 2014 - 11:33pm
NASA's Cassini spacecraft has documented the formation of a small icy object within the rings of Saturn that may be a new moon, and may also provide clues to the formation of the planet's known moons.

NASA Cassini Images May Reveal Birth of New Saturn Moon

14 April 2014 - 5:00pm
NASA's Cassini spacecraft has documented the formation of a small icy object within the rings of Saturn that may be a new moon, and may also provide clues to the formation of the planet's known moons.

'Big Bird' space neutrino has highest energy yet seen

14 April 2014 - 4:30pm
A playfully named subatomic particle is confirmed, and beats rivals Bert and Ernie in terms of energy. Next step: to find a cluster of space neutrinos

Einstein's waves would make a cosmic overture

14 April 2014 - 9:00am
We haven't heard a single gravitational wave in the century since Einstein said they should exist. Hopefully, that's about to change

NASA to Provide Live Coverage and Commentary of April 15 Lunar Eclipse

11 April 2014 - 5:00pm
The public will have the opportunity to view and learn more about the Tuesday, April 15 total lunar eclipse on NASA television, the agency’s website, and social media.

NASA's Hubble Extends Stellar Tape Measure 10 Times Farther Into Space

10 April 2014 - 5:00pm
Using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers now can precisely measure the distance of stars up to 10,000 light-years away -- 10 times farther than previously possible.

Construction to Begin on NASA Spacecraft Set to Visit Asteroid in 2018

10 April 2014 - 4:01pm
NASA's team that will conduct the first U.S. mission to collect samples from an asteroid has been given the go-ahead to begin building the spacecraft, flight instruments and ground system, and launch support facilities.

Hubble Stretches Stellar Tape Measure 10 Times Farther into Space

10 April 2014 - 3:00pm

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Astronomers continue refining the precision of distance measurement techniques to better understand the dimensions of the universe. Calculating the age of the universe, its expansion rate, and the nature of dark energy all depend on the precise distance measurements to stars and galaxies. If the astronomical yardsticks are off, the astronomical interpretation may be flawed. The most reliable method for making astronomical distance measurements is to use straightforward geometry where the 186-million-mile diameter of Earth's orbit is used to construct a baseline of a triangle, much as a land surveyor would use. If a target star is close enough, it will appear to zigzag on the sky during the year as a reflection of Earth's orbit about the Sun. This technique is called parallax. The stars are so far away that the angle of this parallax shift is incredibly tiny. An innovative new observing technique has extended Hubble's yardstick 10 times farther into our galaxy, out to a distance of 7,500 light-years from Earth.

Ringed asteroid will make a star blink out over Africa

10 April 2014 - 12:19pm
The first known asteroid with Saturn-like rings will cross in front of a star this month, perhaps revealing clues to how the thin rings stay in shape

Dark matter hunters turn to nano-blasts and enzyme ice

9 April 2014 - 4:34pm
Smaller, cheaper detectors inspired by biomaterials and grenade chemistry could provide clear signs of dark matter particle strikes

Chance Meeting Creates Celestial Diamond Ring

9 April 2014 - 11:00am
Astronomers using ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile have captured this eye-catching image of planetary nebula PN A66 33 — usually known as Abell 33. Created when an aging star blew off its outer layers, this beautiful blue bubble is, by chance, aligned with a foreground star, and bears an uncanny resemblance to a diamond engagement ring. This cosmic gem is unusually symmetric, appearing to be almost circular on the sky.

Planetary science: A moon of Saturn hides an ocean

9 April 2014 - 1:00am

Planetary science: A moon of Saturn hides an ocean

Nature 508, 7495 (2014). doi:10.1038/508153a

Beneath Enceladus's south pole lies a watery ocean that could hold organic molecules that form the basis of life.Luciano Iess at the Sapienza University of Rome and his colleagues analysed gravity measurements from the Cassini spacecraft during three flybys of this moon of Saturn

Squirting moons face off in race to find alien life

8 April 2014 - 5:42pm
Europa and Enceladus both appear to spout jets of water and have buried oceans, making them attractive targets for future probes that will seek signs of life

Sun traces giant figures-of-eight in the sky

8 April 2014 - 12:00pm
A pinhole camera recorded this time-lapse image over a whole year, showing how the path of the sun across the sky traces a shape called an analemma

Critical phase in missing matter hunt

8 April 2014 - 8:09am
An experiment located at the bottom of a US gold mine could offer the best chance yet of detecting dark matter, scientists believe.

VIDEO: US dark matter hunt at critical phase

7 April 2014 - 11:55pm
The quest to find the most mysterious particles in the Universe is entering a critical phase, scientists say.

Cosmos speed-check for dark energy

7 April 2014 - 7:05pm
Scientists produce a precise measurement of the rate at which the early Universe was expanding to try to get new insights on dark energy.