Institute of Astronomy

Astronomy News

NASA Holds Teleconference on NuSTAR Discovery

6 October 2014 - 5:00pm
NASA will host a news teleconference at 1 p.m. EDT Wednesday, Oct. 8, to announce new findings from its Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) mission. The results describe an unusual source of X-rays that will leave theorists scratching their heads, but also will help astronomers learn more about how black holes and galaxies are formed.

Vast glaciers carved out Martian Grand Canyon

3 October 2014 - 4:20pm
Mineral discoveries high up on the walls of Valles Marineris, the largest, deepest canyon in the solar system, suggest it once hosted glaciers

Moon's hidden valley system revealed

1 October 2014 - 7:44pm
Scientists identify a huge rectangular feature on the Moon that is probably the buried remains of an ancient rift valley system.

Astronomy: To catch a cosmic ray

1 October 2014 - 7:40pm

Astronomy: To catch a cosmic ray

Nature 514, 7520 (2014).

Author: Katia Moskvitch

The Pierre Auger Observatory in Argentina has spent almost ten years looking for the source of ultra-high-energy cosmic rays — but to no avail. Now the observatory faces an uncertain future.

Monster neutrino solves cosmic-ray mystery

1 October 2014 - 7:30pm
A cosmic coincidence hints that high-energy neutrinos and superfast cosmic rays both come from the supermassive black hole at the centre of the galaxy

Look inside a giant supernova that seeded the universe

1 October 2014 - 6:30pm
Some of the very massive stars that populated the early universe exploded completely, sowing the seeds of future stars, solar systems and galaxies

Titan's swirling polar cloud is cold and toxic

1 October 2014 - 6:00pm
The international Cassini mission has revealed that a giant, toxic cloud is hovering over the south pole of Saturn's largest moon, Titan, after the atmosphere has cooled in a dramatic fashion.

NASA Mission Points to Origin of “Ocean of Storms” on Earth’s Moon

1 October 2014 - 5:00pm
Using data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL), mission scientists have solved a lunar mystery almost as old as the moon itself.

Wild Ducks Take Flight in Open Cluster

1 October 2014 - 11:00am
The Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile has taken this beautiful image, dappled with blue stars, of one of the most star-rich open clusters currently known — Messier 11, also known as NGC 6705 or the Wild Duck Cluster.

Astrophysics: Space ripples could pump up stars

1 October 2014 - 1:00am

Astrophysics: Space ripples could pump up stars

Nature 514, 7520 (2014). doi:10.1038/514009c

Gravitational waves could energize and brighten stars — possibly providing indirect evidence for the weak ripples in space time that are thought to be emitted by high-energy events such as exploding stars.Barry McKernan at the City University of New York and his colleagues calculated

Astronomy: The age of the quasars

1 October 2014 - 1:00am

Astronomy: The age of the quasars

Nature 514, 7520 (2014). doi:10.1038/514043a

Authors: Daniel Mortlock

An infrared census of accreting supermassive black holes across a wide range of cosmic times indicates that the canonical understanding of how these luminous objects form and evolve may need to be adjusted.

Earth gets a new companion for trip around sun

30 September 2014 - 6:30pm
Newly discovered asteroid 2014 OL339 is the latest member of the entourage of space rocks that temporarily join Earth in its orbit around the sun

Astronomy data bounty spurs debate over access

30 September 2014 - 1:00am

Astronomy data bounty spurs debate over access

Nature 514, 7520 (2014).

Author: Mark Zastrow

Small institutions fear exclusion from Large Synoptic Survey Telescope's benefits.

Four ways you can see the multiverse

25 September 2014 - 10:00pm
The multiverse, where every choice spawns many universes, sounds like a philosopher's fantasy, but these four experiments show it may be very real

Cosmic inflation is dead, long live cosmic inflation!

25 September 2014 - 5:41pm
The BICEP2 results hailed as demonstrating inflation in the early universe now seem to do the exact opposite, if they can be trusted at all

Life in the multiverse means endless possibilities

25 September 2014 - 8:00am
What if...? Whether or not we live in the best of all possible worlds, the multiverse can help us make the best decisions in this one

Water seen on Neptune-sized planet

24 September 2014 - 8:21pm
A cloud-free atmosphere reveals signs of water vapour on HAT-P-11b, the smallest planet beyond our Solar System ever to yield such an insight.

Multiverse me: Should I care about my other selves?

24 September 2014 - 8:00pm
Every decision you make may spawn parallel universes where people are suffering because of your choice. Welcome to the quantum moral maze (full text available to subscribers)

Hugh Everett: The man who gave us the multiverse

24 September 2014 - 6:00pm
The physicist developed the idea that we're living in a multiverse of countless universes, full of copies of each of us. His life was fascinating and tragic

NASA Telescopes Find Clear Skies and Water Vapor on Exo-Neptune

24 September 2014 - 6:00pm

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The weather forecast for a planet 120 light-years from Earth is clear skies and steamy water vapor. Finding clear skies on a gaseous world the size of Neptune is a good sign that even smaller, Earth-size planets might have similarly good visibility. This would allow earthbound astronomers to measure the underlying atmospheric composition of an exoplanet. Astronomers using the Hubble, Spitzer, and Kepler space telescopes were able to determine that the planet, cataloged HAT-P-11b, has water vapor in its atmosphere. The world is definitely steamy with temperatures over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The planet is so hot because it orbits so close to its star, completing one orbit every five days.