Institute of Astronomy

Astronomy News

Andromeda in HD - Hubble captures the sharpest ever view of neighbouring spiral Galaxy [heic1502]

6 January 2015 - 2:51pm

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured the sharpest and biggest image ever taken of the Andromeda galaxy - otherwise known as Messier 31. The enormous image is the biggest Hubble image ever released and shows over 100 million stars and thousands of star clusters embedded in a section of the galaxy's pancake-shaped disc stretching across over 40 000 light-years.

Hubble's new view of iconic 'Pillars of Creation'

6 January 2015 - 12:52pm

One of the most famous pictures of the cosmos has received a high-def update thanks to a new camera installed on the Hubble Space Telescope






Age of stars is pinned to their spin

6 January 2015 - 4:53am

Astronomers prove they can accurately tell a star's age from how fast it spins, after measuring the spin speed of stars more than a billion years old.

Hubble Goes High Def to Revisit the Iconic 'Pillars of Creation'

5 January 2015 - 10:41pm

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Although NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has taken many breathtaking images of the universe, one snapshot stands out from the rest: the iconic view of the so-called "Pillars of Creation." The jaw-dropping photo, taken in 1995, revealed never-before-seen details of three giant columns of cold gas bathed in the scorching ultraviolet light from a cluster of young, massive stars in a small region of the Eagle Nebula, or M16.

Hubble Discovers that Milky Way Core Drives Wind at 2 Million Miles Per Hour

5 January 2015 - 10:41pm

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At a time when our earliest human ancestors had recently mastered walking upright, the heart of our Milky Way galaxy underwent a titanic eruption, driving gases and other material outward at 2 million miles per hour. Now, at least 2 million years later, astronomers are witnessing the aftermath of the explosion: billowing clouds of gas towering about 30,000 light-years above and below the plane of our galaxy.

Hubble's High-Definition Panoramic View of the Andromeda Galaxy

5 January 2015 - 10:41pm

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The largest NASA Hubble Space Telescope image ever assembled, this sweeping view of a portion of the Andromeda galaxy (M31) is the sharpest large composite image ever taken of our galactic neighbor. Though the galaxy is over 2 million light-years away, the Hubble telescope is powerful enough to resolve individual stars in a 61,000-light-year-long section of the galaxy's pancake-shaped disk. It's like photographing a beach and resolving individual grains of sand. And, there are lots of stars in this sweeping view over 100 million, with some of them in thousands of star clusters seen embedded in the disk. This ambitious photographic cartography of the Andromeda galaxy represents a new benchmark for precision studies of large spiral galaxies which dominate the universe's population of over 100 billion galaxies. Never before have astronomers been able to see individual stars over a major portion of an external spiral galaxy. Most of the stars in the universe live inside such majestic star cities, and this is the first data that reveal populations of stars in context to their home galaxy.

NASA’s Chandra Detects Record-Breaking Outburst from Milky Way’s Black Hole

5 January 2015 - 10:38pm

Astronomers have observed the largest X-ray flare ever detected from the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy. This event, detected by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, raises questions about the behavior of this giant black hole and its surrounding environment.

NASA's Messenger probe ready for final tour of Mercury

5 January 2015 - 3:10pm
With the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury about to fire its booster one last time, NASA is holding a public contest to name five of the planet's craters






Philae comet lander eludes discovery

5 January 2015 - 2:33pm

The precise location of the Europe's Philae comet lander continues to evade detection despite an intense imaging campaign by the Rosetta satellite.

After a century of relativity, a new view of gravity

3 January 2015 - 8:56am

Einstein revolutionised our understanding of gravity in 1915. With gravity wave experiments and a new view of quantum theory, 2015 promises more






'Super-powered oven' suggests Venus once had continents

2 January 2015 - 4:33pm

The first lab analogue study of Venus's surface composition finds that it might be made of granite, a key component of Earth's continents






"Black Hole Telescope" Photographs the Sun

1 January 2015 - 3:17am
For the first time, a mission designed to set its eyes on black holes and other objects far from our solar system has turned its gaze back closer to home, capturing images of our sun.

NASA Highlights Astrophysics Discoveries at American Astronomical Society Meeting

31 December 2014 - 6:19pm
NASA researchers will present a wide range of new astrophysics findings at the 225th meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS).

Dawn Spacecraft Begins Approach … Dwarf Planet Ceres

30 December 2014 - 10:47pm
NASA's ion-propelled Dawn spacecraft has begun its approach to Ceres, a Texas-sized dwarf planet never before visited by a spacecraft.

Planet hunters plot course for inhabited worlds

30 December 2014 - 3:06pm

Planet hunters plot course for inhabited worlds

Nature 517, 7532 (2015). http://www.nature.com/doifinder/10.1038/517008a

Author: Alexandra Witze

Researchers aim to set aside differences in search for life on distant spheres.

The search for ET: how close are we?

23 December 2014 - 7:17pm
If extraterrestrial intelligence exists, why haven't we found it? Here's our guide to humanity's best attempts






Galaxy-mapping megacamera falls victim to loose fibres

23 December 2014 - 6:10pm

The European Space Agency's Gaia space telescope has loose fibres that are scattering too much light into its camera, making it harder to map the Milky Way






Sun's sizzling X-rays photographed

23 December 2014 - 1:16pm

Nasa's "X-ray eye", designed to study distant galaxies and black holes, has turned its attention to our own star and snapped a remarkable portrait.

Rosetta to Swoop Down on Comet in February

20 December 2014 - 2:10am
The European Space Agency’s orbiting Rosetta spacecraft is expected to come within four miles of the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko in February 2015. The low flyby will be an opportunity for Rosetta to obtain imagery with a resolution of a few inches per pixel.

Reborn Kepler Spacecraft Finds 'Super-Earth'

19 December 2014 - 4:15pm
NASA's planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft is operating in a new mission profile called K2. Using publicly available data, astronomers have confirmed K2's first exoplanet discovery, proving Kepler can still find planets.