Institute of Astronomy

Astronomy News

Oxygen ions sent from Earth have been spotted on the moon

2 February 2017 - 10:56am

Earth’s magnetic field sends streams of oxygen ions towards the moon every month – and that could give us clues to our planet’s early atmosphere

Tiny spacecraft could brake at exoplanet using alien starlight

2 February 2017 - 10:55am

Lightweight solar sails could bring spacecraft to the nearest star in just 20 years – but hitting the brakes will be challenging. A new paper suggests using the stars themselves to park around their planets

Water spotted in the atmosphere of nearby hot Jupiter exoplanet

2 February 2017 - 10:55am

Astronomers have detected water vapour in the atmosphere of 51 Pegasi b – which lies just 50 light years away

Celestial Cat Meets Cosmic Lobster

2 February 2017 - 10:52am
Astronomers have for a long time studied the glowing, cosmic clouds of gas and dust catalogued as NGC 6334 and NGC 6357, this gigantic new image from ESO’s Very Large Telescope Survey Telescope being only the most recent one. With around two billion pixels this is one of the largest images ever released by ESO. The evocative shapes of the clouds have led to their memorable names: the Cat’s Paw Nebula and the Lobster Nebula, respectively.

Mind the Gap: Rapid Burster behaviour explained

2 February 2017 - 10:51am

Scientists observing a curious neutron star in a binary system known as the 'Rapid Burster' may have solved a forty-year-old mystery surrounding its puzzling X-ray bursts. They discovered that its magnetic field creates a gap around the star, largely preventing it from feeding on matter from its stellar companion. Gas builds up until, under certain conditions, it hits the neutron star all at once, producing intense flashes of X-rays. The discovery was made with space telescopes including ESA's XMM-Newton.