Institute of Astronomy

Astronomy News

We’ve found a bunch of dwarf galaxies we thought didn’t exist

29 November 2017 - 9:22am

The missing dwarf galaxies around the Milky Way have been found. Their existence means dark matter could be made of particles that are warmer than we expected

Mysterious gamma rays in Crab nebula traced to pulsar winds

29 November 2017 - 9:22am

Ultra-bright flashes in the Crab nebula have baffled astronomers, but they could result from winds created by a pulsar at the heart of the gas cloud

A force to be reckoned with

29 November 2017 - 9:20am

Think you know what gravity is? Think again. New research is revealing how little we know about this most mysterious of forces. Read the rest of the article from the latest version of CAM, the University's alumni magazine, here.

Gravity is one of the universe's great mysteries. We decided to find out why.

La TigreSupermassive black holes


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How to solve the problem of space junk

29 November 2017 - 9:19am

A British spacecraft is trying to clean up what we send up but never bring down.

Einstein’s theory put to the test

27 November 2017 - 9:10am

Einstein’s theory put to the test

Einstein’s theory put to the test, Published online: 24 November 2017; doi:10.1038/d41586-017-07497-x

Attempts to break relativity get ever-more stringent.

Signs of running water on Mars dunes are probably just dry sand

23 November 2017 - 9:15am

The strange striped patterns that appear and fade away on Martian slopes were once thought to be evidence of flowing water – they’re actually made by dry sand

Light pollution is set to double between now and 2050

23 November 2017 - 9:14am

The first global “light census” shows that the area affected by artificial lighting is growing by 2.2 per cent every year, posing risks to wildlife and human health

Giant telescope’s mobile-phone ‘dead zones’ rile South African residents

23 November 2017 - 9:12am

Giant telescope’s mobile-phone ‘dead zones’ rile South African residents

Nature 551, 7681 (2017). http://www.nature.com/doifinder/10.1038/nature.2017.22998

Author: Sarah Wild

Sensitive radio dishes of the Square Kilometre Array will affect phone reception — and could harm local economies, say farmers.

Exoplanet hunters rethink search for alien life

23 November 2017 - 9:12am

Exoplanet hunters rethink search for alien life

Nature 551, 7681 (2017). http://www.nature.com/doifinder/10.1038/nature.2017.23023

Author: Alexandra Witze

Astronomers expand ideas of how chemistry and geology could affect chances for life on other worlds.

Light pollution: Night being lost in many countries

23 November 2017 - 9:11am

Much of the world is "losing the night" as artificial light becomes brighter and more widespread, say scientists.

High-energy 'ghost particles' absorbed by Earth

23 November 2017 - 9:10am

Neutrinos are famous for travelling through solid objects, but they don't go through everything, a study shows.

The message we’re sending to nearby aliens is no threat to Earth

22 November 2017 - 9:21am

Critics fear provoking hostile extraterrestrials by beaming messages to our closest exoplanets but there's no need to worry, says METI president Douglas Vakoch

We got a good look at the interstellar asteroid and it’s weird

22 November 2017 - 9:20am

Our first detailed glimpse at ‘Oumuamua, the interstellar asteroid that recently flew by Earth, shows it’s one of the weirdest asteroids we’ve ever seen

Ocean-covered planets may not be the places to search for life

22 November 2017 - 9:19am

Looking for life in the universe has often come down to a search for water on other planets. But water worlds may not make enough of the nutrients life needs

Solar System’s First Interstellar Visitor Dazzles Scientists

22 November 2017 - 9:19am

Astronomers recently scrambled to observe an intriguing asteroid that zipped through the solar system on a steep trajectory from interstellar space—the first confirmed object from another star. 

News Article Type: Homepage ArticlesPublished: Tuesday, November 21, 2017 - 11:00

How the Milky Way’s middle grew a peanut-shaped bulge

22 November 2017 - 9:19am

How the Milky Way’s middle grew a peanut-shaped bulge

How the Milky Way’s middle grew a peanut-shaped bulge, Published online: 20 November 2017; doi:10.1038/d41586-017-07277-7

Model points to motion of the stars in the galactic disc.

A brief visit from a red and extremely elongated interstellar asteroid

22 November 2017 - 9:18am

A brief visit from a red and extremely elongated interstellar asteroid

A brief visit from a red and extremely elongated interstellar asteroid, Published online: 20 November 2017; doi:10.1038/nature25020

ESO Observations Show First Interstellar Asteroid is Like Nothing Seen Before

22 November 2017 - 9:17am
For the first time ever astronomers have studied an asteroid that has entered the Solar System from interstellar space. Observations from ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile and other observatories around the world show that this unique object was traveling through space for millions of years before its chance encounter with our star system. It appears to be a dark, reddish, highly-elongated rocky or high-metal-content object. The new results appear in the journal Nature on 20 November 2017.