Institute of Astronomy

Astronomy News

Survey puts figure on fading cosmos

11 August 2015 - 9:07am
A survey examining 200,000 galaxies in multiple wavelengths offers the best estimate yet of how fast the Universe is fading.

Kepler sees hints of asteroids pursuing planets near other stars

10 August 2015 - 9:30am

Asteroids called Trojans sit in gravitational wells around planets in our solar system – now data from the Kepler spacecraft suggests it happens elsewhere too

Neutrinos from inside Earth and deep space illuminate the cosmos

10 August 2015 - 9:29am
A batch of ghostly, chargeless particles have been caught coming from inside Earth and from deep space

Celebrating a year at the comet

7 August 2015 - 9:21am

ESA's Rosetta mission today celebrates one year at Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, with its closest approach to the Sun now just one week away.

NASA's Hubble Finds Evidence of Galaxy Star Birth Regulated by Black-Hole Fountain

7 August 2015 - 9:20am

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Astronomers have long wondered how the universe's largest elliptical galaxies continue making stars long after their peak years of star birth. By combining data from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope with observations from a suite of ground-based and space telescopes, two independent teams have uncovered a unique process to explain how this star birth continues. The teams found that that the galaxy's central black hole, jets, and newborn stars are all parts of a self-regulating cycle. In that cycle, jets shooting out of the galaxy's center heat a halo of surrounding gas, controlling the rate at which it cools and falls into the galaxy. The astronomers used Hubble's high resolution and ultraviolet vision to resolve brilliant knots of hot, blue stars forming along the jets from active black holes in the centers of these giant galaxies.

Distant worlds could be sheltering in a bubble around their star

7 August 2015 - 9:19am
Alien worlds, like Earth, are shielded from cosmic rays by magnetic bubbles around their sun – trouble is, stars have a tendency to drop their guard

The Ghost of a Dying Star

6 August 2015 - 11:39am
This extraordinary bubble, glowing like the ghost of a star in the haunting darkness of space, may appear supernatural and mysterious, but it is a familiar astronomical object: a planetary nebula, the remnants of a dying star. This is the best view of the little-known object ESO 378-1 yet obtained and was captured by ESO's Very Large Telescope in northern Chile.

Giant old galaxies, not Milky Ways, are best for life to thrive

6 August 2015 - 11:38am

Looking at how quickly stars form can nail down the galaxies that should be best for life – and our own doesn't come out on top

Hawaii astronomy meeting glosses over telescope controversy

6 August 2015 - 11:38am

As 3000 astronomers descend on Hawaii, protesters fighting a planned telescope are arrested on Mauna Kea. Yet the meeting will barely discuss the issue

VIDEO: Nasa photographs moon's 'dark side'

6 August 2015 - 10:21am

Nasa's Deep Space Observatory satellite has captured composite images of the moon from a million miles away.

Giant old galaxies, not Milky Ways, are best for life to thrive

3 August 2015 - 9:19am

Looking at how quickly stars form can nail down the galaxies that should be best for life – and our own doesn't come out on top

Stormy seas in Sagittarius [heic1517]

31 July 2015 - 9:49am

Some of the most breathtaking views in the Universe are created by nebulae – hot, glowing clouds of gas. This new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image shows the centre of the Lagoon Nebula, an object with a deceptively tranquil name. The region is filled with intense winds from hot stars, churning funnels of gas, and energetic star formation, all embedded within an intricate haze of gas and pitch-dark dust.

Science on the surface of a comet

31 July 2015 - 9:48am

Complex molecules that could be key building blocks of life, the daily rise and fall of temperature, and an assessment of the surface properties and internal structure of the comet are just some of the highlights of the first scientific analysis of the data returned by Rosetta's lander Philae last November.

Telescopes Team Up to Find Distant Uranus-Sized Planet Through Microlensing

31 July 2015 - 9:47am

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The majority of planets discovered outside our solar system orbit close to their parent stars because these planets are the easiest to find. But to fully understand how distant planetary systems are put together, astronomers must conduct a census of all the planets around a star. So they need to look farther away from the star-from about the distance of Jupiter is from our sun, and beyond.

NASA's Spitzer Confirms Closest Rocky Exoplanet

31 July 2015 - 9:47am
Using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, astronomers have confirmed the discovery of the nearest rocky planet outside our solar system, larger than Earth and a potential gold mine of science data.

In So Many Words: minute world with big stories to tell

31 July 2015 - 9:46am

In so many words is where we retell our stories on space and physics using only the 1000 commonest words in English

#RosettaWatch: Philae lander reveals comet 67P’s fluffy surface

31 July 2015 - 9:45am

Comet 67P has previously unseen organic molecules and fluffy surface grains – just a few of the discoveries in the first set of papers from the Philae team

Comet yields 'rich array' of organics

31 July 2015 - 9:31am

The spacecraft which made a spectacular landing on a comet last year has discovered a rich array of carbon compounds.

Great robotic missions to explore space

31 July 2015 - 9:30am
Past space missions that have changed our understanding

Big year ahead for James Webb telescope

31 July 2015 - 9:30am

It's been a long time coming, but Nasa is now at the business end of building its giant successor to the Hubble Space Telescope.