Institute of Astronomy

Astronomy News

Rosetta set for a grand finale by diving into cometary cave

14 September 2016 - 9:24am

ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft will end its two-year mission orbiting comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko by crashing into a once-active pit named Deir el-Medina

Star arrangement that hid for a decade spotted at galaxy’s heart

14 September 2016 - 9:24am

A dense cluster of stars orbiting the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way has played hide-and-seek with astronomers for years – now we've finally seen it

First glimpse of a black hole being born from a star’s remains

13 September 2016 - 9:57am

Hubble has caught a red supergiant star flaring up and disappearing – probably because it was transformed into a black hole

Tiny lightning bolt explosions can vaporise the moon’s thin soil

12 September 2016 - 9:49am

If electrical charges build up in cold lunar dust, they might cause tiny explosions, melting and vaporising soil and altering the face of the moon

Titan's dunes and other features emerge in new images

9 September 2016 - 8:56am

New scenes from a frigid alien landscape are coming to light in recent radar images of Saturn's largest moon, Titan, from the international Cassini spacecraft.

Dr. Nancy A. Levenson Appointed Deputy Director of the Space Telescope Science Institute

9 September 2016 - 8:56am

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Dr. Nancy A. Levenson has been appointed Deputy Director of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland. The Institute is the science operations center for the Hubble Space Telescope and the James Webb Telescope (JWST) that is scheduled to launch in 2018.

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Speeds Toward Asteroid Rendezvous

9 September 2016 - 8:55am
NASA's first asteroid sampling mission launched into space at 7:05 p.m. EDT Thursday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, beginning a journey that could revolutionize our understanding of the early solar system.

Dark matter clumps may have punched through star stream

9 September 2016 - 8:55am

Two mysterious holes spotted in a stream of stars orbiting the Milky Way could be due to dark matter bullets - and could help reveal its true nature

CSI Eta Carinae: Clouds suggest odd star’s history of violence

9 September 2016 - 8:54am

A strange star called Eta Carinae erupted like a supernova in 1843, yet lived to tell the tale. New observations reveal two earlier outbursts

Astronomers search for the vanishing star

9 September 2016 - 8:53am

Astronomers at St Andrews university have observed tantalising glimpses of how our own planet may have been born

Asteroid probe begins seven-year quest

9 September 2016 - 8:52am

Nasa launches its Osiris-Rex probe, which will try to grab a sample of rock from an asteroid and return it to Earth.

Astrophysics: Violent emissions of newborn stars

8 September 2016 - 9:42am

Astrophysics: Violent emissions of newborn stars

Nature 537, 7619 (2016). doi:10.1038/537174a

Authors: Markus Röllig

Interactions between young stars and their parent molecular clouds are poorly understood. High-resolution observations of the Orion nebula now reveal these interactions, which have implications for star formation. See Letter p.207

Trade talk: Star selector

8 September 2016 - 9:41am

Trade talk: Star selector

Nature 537, 7619 (2016). doi:10.1038/nj7619-257a

Author: Monya Baker

An astronomer explains how he came to crunch data for Hollywood.

Mars contamination fear could divert Curiosity rover

8 September 2016 - 9:38am

Mars contamination fear could divert Curiosity rover

Nature 537, 7619 (2016). http://www.nature.com/doifinder/10.1038/537145a

Author: Alexandra Witze

NASA must avoid spreading Earth microbes to suspected water in hillside streaks.

Astronomy: Carbon monoxide in large-star disks

8 September 2016 - 9:38am

Astronomy: Carbon monoxide in large-star disks

Nature 537, 7619 (2016). doi:10.1038/537140b

Stars twice as massive as the Sun can feature carbon-monoxide-rich gas disks around them, contrary to the expectation that ultraviolet radiation would have stripped away the gas.Meredith Hughes at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, and her colleagues used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in

Star formation: Star-rich early galaxy clusters

8 September 2016 - 9:37am

Star formation: Star-rich early galaxy clusters

Nature 537, 7619 (2016). doi:10.1038/537141f

Galaxy clusters in the early Universe produced more stars than their more modern counterparts.When a galaxy becomes part of a cluster — a group of galaxies bound together by gravity — its crowded surroundings often cause it to stop producing stars, an effect called

To Bennu and Back

8 September 2016 - 9:36am

NASA is launching a spacecraft to visit an asteroid… and return to tell the tale. OSIRIS-REx is scheduled to blast off from Cape Canaveral on September 8, 2016, on a mission to orbit, map and collect samples from the asteroid Bennu, and return to Earth 7 years later.

Rosetta catches dusty organics

8 September 2016 - 9:24am

Rosetta's dust-analysing COSIMA (COmetary Secondary Ion Mass Analyser) instrument has made the first unambiguous detection of solid organic matter in the dust particles ejected by Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, in the form of complex carbon-bearing molecules.

Hubble discovers rare fossil relic of early Milky Way [heic1617]

8 September 2016 - 9:23am

A fossilised remnant of the early Milky Way harbouring stars of hugely different ages has been revealed by an international team of astronomers. This stellar system resembles a globular cluster, but is like no other cluster known. It contains stars remarkably similar to the most ancient stars in the Milky Way and bridges the gap in understanding between our galaxy's past and its present.

Astronomers Discover Rare Fossil Relic of Early Milky Way

8 September 2016 - 9:19am
Using ESO’s Very Large Telescope and other telescopes a fossilised remnant of the early Milky Way harbouring stars of hugely different ages has been revealed by an international team of astronomers. This stellar system resembles a globular cluster, but is like no other cluster known. It contains stars remarkably similar to the most ancient stars in the Milky Way and bridges the gap in understanding between our galaxy’s past and its present.