Institute of Astronomy

Feed aggregator

Corrigendum: Black hole growth in the early Universe is self-regulated and largely hidden from view

Astronomy News - 12 June 2017 - 9:55am

Corrigendum: Black hole growth in the early Universe is self-regulated and largely hidden from view

Nature 546, 7657 (2017). doi:10.1038/nature22810

Authors: Ezequiel Treister, Kevin Schawinski, Marta Volonteri, Priyamvada Natarajan & Eric Gawiser

Nature474, 356–358 (2011); doi:10.1038/nature10103Subsequent analysis with updated methodology by us and others has not confirmed the detection of the population described in this Letter. We suspect, as described in later work by our group,

ALMA Finds Ingredient of Life Around Infant Sun-like Stars

Astronomy News - 12 June 2017 - 9:52am
ALMA has observed stars like the Sun at a very early stage in their formation and found traces of methyl isocyanate — a chemical building block of life. This is the first ever detection of this prebiotic molecule towards solar-type protostars, the sort from which our Solar System evolved. The discovery could help astronomers understand how life arose on Earth.

The future of the Orion constellation

Astronomy News - 12 June 2017 - 9:49am

A new video, based on measurements by ESA's Gaia and Hipparcos satellites, shows how our view of the Orion constellation will evolve over the next 450 000 years.

Planet is 'hotter than most stars'

Astronomy News - 12 June 2017 - 9:49am

Scientists spend decades hunting Earth's twin only to turn up the most inhospitable world imaginable.

LIGO detects gravitational waves for third time

Astronomy News - 2 June 2017 - 9:05am

The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) has made a third detection of gravitational waves, ripples in space and time, demonstrating that a new window in astronomy has been firmly opened. As was the case with the first two detections, the waves were generated when two black holes collided to form a larger black hole.

The newfound black hole formed by the merger has a mass about 49 times that of our sun. “With this third confirmed detection we are uncovering the population of black holes in the Universe for the first time,” said Christopher Moore from the University of Cambridge’s Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (DAMTP), who is part of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration.

The new detection occurred during LIGO’s current observing run, which began November 30, 2016, and will continue through the summer. LIGO is an international collaboration with members around the globe. Its observations are carried out by twin detectors—one in Hanford, Washington, and the other in Livingston, Louisiana—operated by Caltech and MIT with funding from the United States National Science Foundation (NSF).

The LIGO group in Cambridge consists of seven researchers spread across DAMTP, the Cavendish Laboratory and the Institute of Astronomy.

“Answering key questions about the formation history of astrophysical black holes and their role in the evolution of the universe critically relies on applying a statistical analysis to a sufficiently large sample of observations,” said Dr Ulrich Sperhake, head of the group in DAMTP. “Each new detection not only strengthens our confidence in the theoretical modelling, but enables us to explore new phenomena of these mysterious and fascinating objects.”

One of the interests of the Cambridge group is testing Einstein’s theory of general relativity. “This particular source of gravitational waves is the furthest detected so far. This allows us to test our understanding of the propagation of gravitational waves across cosmological distances, by means of which we constrained any signs of wave dispersion to unprecedented precision,” said Dr Michalis Agathos, a postdoctoral researcher at DAMTP.

The LIGO-Virgo team is continuing to search the latest LIGO data for signs of space-time ripples from the far reaches of the cosmos. They are also working on technical upgrades for LIGO’s next run, scheduled to begin in late 2018, during which the detectors’ sensitivity will be further improved.

“With the third confirmed detection of gravitational waves from the collision of two black holes, LIGO is establishing itself as a powerful observatory for revealing the dark side of the universe,” said David Reitze of Caltech, executive director of the LIGO Laboratory. “While LIGO is uniquely suited to observing these types of events, we hope to see other types of astrophysical events soon, such as the violent collision of two neutron stars.”

LIGO is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and operated by MIT and Caltech, which conceived and built the project. Financial support for the Advanced LIGO project was led by NSF with Germany (Max Planck Society), the UK (Science and Technology Facilities Council) and Australia (Australian Research Council) making significant commitments and contributions to the project. More than 1,000 scientists from around the world participate in the effort through the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, which includes the GEO Collaboration. LIGO partners with the Virgo Collaboration, a consortium including 280 additional scientists throughout Europe supported by the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN), and Nikhef, as well as Virgo’s host institution, the European Gravitational Observatory. Additional partners are listed at: http://ligo.org/partners.php.

Results confirm new population of black holes.

Each new detection enables us to explore new phenomena of these mysterious and fascinating objects.Ulrich SperhakeLIGO/Caltech/MIT/Sonoma State (Aurore Simonnet)Artist's conception shows two merging black holes similar to those detected by LIGO.


The text in this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. For image use please see separate credits above.

Yes

LIGO’s third detection hints at how black hole binaries are born

Astronomy News - 2 June 2017 - 9:04am

The latest signal from the gravitational wave detector backs up Einstein’s theory of general relativity and gives more clues on how black holes get their spin

Mars rover sees signs of microbe-friendly layers in ancient lake

Astronomy News - 2 June 2017 - 9:03am

Curiosity’s inspection of a Martian lakebed reveals multiple environments where microbes could have thrived more than 3 billion years ago

Gravitational waves: Third detection of deep space warping

Astronomy News - 2 June 2017 - 9:01am

Scientists pick up once again the distortions in space-time resulting from a huge black hole merger.

Neutron stars set to open their heavy hearts

Astronomy News - 1 June 2017 - 9:09am

Neutron stars set to open their heavy hearts

Nature 546, 7656 (2017). http://www.nature.com/doifinder/10.1038/546018a

Author: Elizabeth Gibney

Space mission will peer inside the densest matter in the Universe.

Neutron stars set to open their heavy hearts

Astronomy News - 1 June 2017 - 9:07am
Space mission will peer inside the densest matter in the Universe.

NASA mission into sun’s atmosphere named after astrophysicist

Astronomy News - 1 June 2017 - 9:05am

The Parker Solar Probe will go closer to the surface of the sun than any previous probe, in order to discover more about the physics of stars and the origins of the solar wind

Nasa renames Sun skimming mission

Astronomy News - 1 June 2017 - 9:03am

The space agency re-brands its mission to "touch the Sun" after a living scientist.

ESO Signs Contracts for the ELT’s Gigantic Primary Mirror

Astronomy News - 31 May 2017 - 8:56am
Contracts for the manufacture of the 39-metre primary mirror of ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) were signed today at a ceremony at ESO’s Headquarters near Munich. The German company SCHOTT will produce the blanks of the mirror segments, and the French company Safran Reosc will polish, mount and test the segments. The contract to polish the mirror blanks is the second-largest contract for the ELT construction and the third-largest contract ESO has ever awarded.

Rings and asteroids may explain ‘alien megastructure’ star

Astronomy News - 31 May 2017 - 8:55am

It could be time to ditch the alien megastructure. A massive ringed planet and a swarm of asteroids may instead explain Tabby’s star

First Stone Ceremony for ESO's Extremely Large Telescope

Astronomy News - 30 May 2017 - 9:16am
A ceremony marking the first stone of ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) has been attended today by the President of the Republic of Chile, Michelle Bachelet Jeria. The event was held at ESO's Paranal Observatory in northern Chile, close to the site of the future giant telescope. This milestone marked the beginning of the construction of the dome and main telescope structure of the world’s biggest optical telescope, and ushered in a new era in astronomy. The occasion also marked the connection of the observatory to the Chilean national electrical grid.

NASA to Make Announcement About First Mission to Touch Sun

Astronomy News - 30 May 2017 - 9:16am
NASA will make an announcement about the agency’s first mission to fly directly into our sun’s atmosphere during an event at 11 a.m. EDT Wednesday, May 31, from the University of Chicago’s William Eckhardt Research Center Auditorium. The event will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Amazing pictures show cyclones swirling above Jupiter’s poles

Astronomy News - 30 May 2017 - 9:16am

The best close-up images ever of Jupiter reveal surprising cyclones and ammonia patches that are forcing a rethink of our understanding of the planet

Saturn’s moons could reassemble after a cosmic smash-up

Astronomy News - 30 May 2017 - 9:15am

Any surviving debris from a collision would forge a new patchwork moon – so that’s not how Saturn got its rings

Strange cosmic radio burst pinned down to giant stellar nursery

Astronomy News - 26 May 2017 - 9:20am

A young neutron star is probably the source of a strange repeating signal previously tracked to a dwarf galaxy 2.4 billion light years away

Huge impact could have smashed early Earth into a doughnut shape

Astronomy News - 26 May 2017 - 9:19am

Many rocky worlds may have spent time as a newly named planetary form called a synestia – a loosely connected blob of molten rock and dust with a dented middle