Institute of Astronomy

Astronomy News

NASA spacecraft captures rare double eclipse of the sun

17 September 2015 - 10:21am

First the Earth and then the moon recently blocked the sun's light from the point of view of NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory

Newfound meteor showers expand astronomical calendar

17 September 2015 - 10:19am

Newfound meteor showers expand astronomical calendar

Nature 525, 7569 (2015).

Author: Alexandra Witze

Sky-watching cameras spot 86 previously unknown events.

Hunt for gravitational waves to resume after massive upgrade

17 September 2015 - 10:19am

Hunt for gravitational waves to resume after massive upgrade

Nature 525, 7569 (2015).

Author: Davide Castelvecchi

LIGO experiment now has better chance of detecting ripples in space-time.

Astronomy: The farthest galaxy so far

17 September 2015 - 10:18am

Astronomy: The farthest galaxy so far

Nature 525, 7569 (2015). doi:10.1038/525293c

Astronomers have observed the most distant galaxy yet by detecting photons emitted from its clouds of hydrogen when the 13.8-billion-year-old Universe was less than 600 million years old.Such photons rarely make it to telescopes on Earth, but Adi Zitrin at the California Institute of

Planetary science: A faster spin for Mercury

17 September 2015 - 10:18am

Planetary science: A faster spin for Mercury

Nature 525, 7569 (2015). doi:10.1038/525293a

Mercury rotates nine seconds faster than scientists had thought, probably because of gravitational effects from Jupiter.A team led by Alexander Stark of the German Aerospace Center in Berlin studied three years of data from NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft, which orbited the planet between 2011 and

Enceladus ocean 'must be global'

17 September 2015 - 10:14am

Scientists determine that the sub-surface body of water on the Saturnian moon Enceladus must be far more extensive than first thought.

Earth’s composition might be unusual for a planet with life

16 September 2015 - 9:47am

Solar systems with habitable planets seem to be made of different stuff to our sun, meaning alien worlds probably aren't like Earth, a new study suggests

Cassini Finds Global Ocean in Saturn's Moon Enceladus

16 September 2015 - 9:45am
A global ocean lies beneath the icy crust of Saturn's geologically active moon Enceladus, according to new research using data from NASA's Cassini mission.

Video shows real-time comet landing

16 September 2015 - 9:33am

A new reconstruction captures the moment Europe's Philae probe first approached Comet 67P in November last year.

VIDEO: 'Ride along' with Philae's landing

16 September 2015 - 9:32am

A smoothed reconstruction captures the moment the Philae probe first approached Comet 67P in November last year.

Black holes may be brick walls that bounce information back out

14 September 2015 - 9:54am

It's another shot in the black hole wars – a Nobel laureate has a counterpoint to Stephen Hawking's new solution to the black hole information paradox

Moonquakes unearthed in data from 1970s Apollo mission

14 September 2015 - 9:53am

An algorithm based on speech recognition software has dug up hundreds of tremors on the moon missed by earlier searches – and could help find quakes on Mars

New Horizons resumes image return

14 September 2015 - 9:38am

New pictures are released from the New Horizons flyby of the dwarf planet Pluto, as the probe starts its big data dump to Earth.

Astronomers find galaxy cluster with bursting heart [heic 1519]

11 September 2015 - 9:24am

An international team of astronomers has discovered a gargantuan galaxy cluster with a core bursting with new stars — an incredibly rare find. The discovery, made with the help of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, is the first to show that gigantic galaxies at the centres of massive clusters can grow significantly by feeding off gas stolen from other galaxies.

NASA Telescopes Find Galaxy Cluster with Vibrant Heart

11 September 2015 - 9:24am

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Astronomers have discovered a rare beast of a galaxy cluster whose heart is bursting with new stars. The unexpected find, made with the help of NASA's Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes, suggests that behemoth galaxies at the cores of these massive clusters can grow significantly by feeding on gas stolen from other galaxies. The cluster in the new study, referred to by astronomers as SpARCS1049+56, has at least 27 galaxy members, and a combined mass equal to nearly 400 trillion suns. It is located 9.8 billion light-years away in the Ursa Major constellation. The object was initially discovered using Spitzer and the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, and confirmed using the W. M. Keck Observatory. Hubble helped confirm the source of the fuel for the new stars.

To learn more about the behavior of massive galaxy clusters, join the discussion with the scientists during the live Hubble Hangout at 3pm EDT today (Thurs., Sept. 10) at .

'Unsent letter' to aliens planned

11 September 2015 - 9:16am

A group of 20 UK researchers decides to compose a message to aliens - but they are split over whether such a message should be sent into space.

Hubble Uncovers Clues of Earliest Galaxies

10 September 2015 - 9:46am

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Astronomers at the University of California at Irvine (UCI) and the Space Telescope Science Institute have made the most accurate statistical estimate of the number of faint, small galaxies that existed only 500 million years after the big bang. This was culled from an analysis of the deepest Hubble Space Telescope sky survey, CANDELS (Cosmic Assembly Near-Infrared Deep Extragalactic Legacy Survey). Previously, studies using Caltech's CIBER (the Cosmic Infrared Background Experiment) rocket-borne instrument and NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope images confirmed the presence of "intra-halo light" from stars distributed outside of galaxies. The Hubble data found a new component in the infrared background in addition to intra-halo light the collective glow of entire galaxies that formed first in the universe. UCI's Asantha Cooray believes that these early galaxies are very different from the well-defined spiral and disk-shaped galaxies seen in the present-day universe. They were more diffuse and populated by giant stars. This discovery paves the way for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope to see these very faint galaxies individually, after its launch in 2018.

Astrophysics: Glimpse into a primitive stellar nursery

10 September 2015 - 9:44am

Astrophysics: Glimpse into a primitive stellar nursery

Nature 525, 7568 (2015). doi:10.1038/525195a

Authors: Adam Leroy

The first well-resolved images of local-galaxy stellar nurseries that are poor in elements heavier than helium give the best picture yet of the conditions in which stars may have formed in the early Universe. See Letter p.218

Ceres' bright spots in sharp detail

10 September 2015 - 9:32am

The US space agency's Dawn satellite returns its best views yet of the enigmatic bright spots on the dwarf planet Ceres.

Spider galaxies spotted eating gas caught in the cosmic web

8 September 2015 - 9:43am

We've long thought that galaxies grew fat by devouring gas from a mesh of dark matter called the cosmic web – now we've seen it in action