Institute of Astronomy

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Crunch time for Canada’s role in mega-telescope

Astronomy News - 19 March 2015 - 10:36am

Crunch time for Canada’s role in mega-telescope

Nature 519, 7543 (2015). http://www.nature.com/doifinder/10.1038/519270a

Author: Alexandra Witze

Astronomers ask federal government to honour promise for Thirty Meter Telescope.

Highly efficient star formation in NGC 5253 possibly from stream-fed accretion

Astronomy News - 19 March 2015 - 10:34am

Highly efficient star formation in NGC 5253 possibly from stream-fed accretion

Nature 519, 7543 (2015). doi:10.1038/nature14218

Authors: J. L. Turner, S. C. Beck, D. J. Benford, S. M. Consiglio, P. T. P. Ho, A. Kovács, D. S. Meier & J.-H. Zhao

Gas clouds in present-day galaxies are inefficient at forming stars. Low star-formation efficiency is a critical parameter in galaxy evolution: it is why stars are still forming nearly 14 billion years after the Big Bang and why star clusters generally do not survive their births, instead dispersing to form galactic disks or bulges. Yet the existence of ancient massive bound star clusters (globular clusters) in the Milky Way suggests that efficiencies were higher when they formed ten billion years ago. A local dwarf galaxy, NGC 5253, has a young star cluster that provides an example of highly efficient star formation. Here we report the detection of the J = 3→2 rotational transition of CO at the location of the massive cluster. The gas cloud is hot, dense, quiescent and extremely dusty. Its gas-to-dust ratio is lower than the Galactic value, which we attribute to dust enrichment by the embedded star cluster. Its star-formation efficiency exceeds 50 per cent, tenfold that of clouds in the Milky Way. We suggest that high efficiency results from the force-feeding of star formation by a streamer of gas falling into the galaxy.

Astronomy: Milky Way has corrugated rings

Astronomy News - 19 March 2015 - 10:34am

Astronomy: Milky Way has corrugated rings

Nature 519, 7543 (2015). doi:10.1038/519265c

The Milky Way's stars sprawl outwards in a series of concentric ripples, hinting that it might extend farther into space than was thought.Data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey confirm a previously known ring of stars at about 9,000 parsecs from the Sun. They

VIDEO: Unusual Northern Lights head south

Astronomy News - 19 March 2015 - 10:27am

The Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights, have been creating a fabulous show across large parts of the Britain, and across the globe.

'Northern lights' observed on Mars

Astronomy News - 19 March 2015 - 10:26am

A Nasa spacecraft orbiting the Red Planet detects a mysterious aurora that reaches deep into the Martian atmosphere.

Is Titan submarine the most daring space mission yet?

Astronomy News - 19 March 2015 - 10:26am

Is this the most daring space mission yet?

Race to find the first exomoon heats up

Astronomy News - 18 March 2015 - 10:29am
Speedier ways to search for moons outside the solar system are good news for alien hunters: these would be some of the best places to look for life






Best views of Mercury's icy craters

Astronomy News - 18 March 2015 - 10:20am

Scientists obtain the most detailed views yet of ice deposits inside the permanently shadowed craters at Mercury's north pole.

VIDEO: Northern Lights glow in UK's night sky

Astronomy News - 18 March 2015 - 10:19am

The Northern Lights - or Aurora Borealis - have been creating a fabulous show across large parts of the Northern Hemisphere.

Where will you be watching the solar eclipse on Friday, 20 March? Put a pin in o...

Astronomy News - 17 March 2015 - 10:45am
Where will you be watching the solar eclipse on Friday, 20 March? Put a pin in our map!

http://www.solareclipse.ras.ac.uk/


Where Will You Watch the Eclipse?
www.solareclipse.ras.ac.uk
Website for plotting eclipse viewing locations.

#RosettaWatch: New clues about the origin of comet 67P

Astronomy News - 17 March 2015 - 10:44am

The latest word from comet 67P is in: strange forces mimic wind on the surface, the comet may be made entirely of pebbles, and Philae isn't awake yet






Dancing in the dark: The search for the 'missing Universe'

Astronomy News - 17 March 2015 - 10:32am

Large Hadron Collider goes after dark matter

New lunar crater named after Earhart

Astronomy News - 17 March 2015 - 10:32am

Scientists discover a large crater on the Earth-facing side of the Moon - the first detection of its kind in at least a century.

Rosetta comet wind mystery 'solved'

Astronomy News - 17 March 2015 - 10:32am

Scientists from the Rosetta mission may have solved the puzzle of features on Comet 67P that look like they were produced by wind.

VIDEO: Dark matter's 'gang of four'

Astronomy News - 17 March 2015 - 10:31am

The Large Hadron Collider will put reputations on the line when it attempts to solve the mystery of dark matter.

Hubble Source Catalog: One-Stop Shopping for Astronomers

Astronomy News - 16 March 2015 - 10:29am

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Astronomers at the Space Telescope Science Institute and the Johns Hopkins University, both in Baltimore, Maryland, have created a new master catalog of astronomical objects called the Hubble Source Catalog. The catalog provides one-stop shopping for measurements of objects observed with NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.

New Desktop Application Has Potential to Increase Asteroid Detection, Now Available to Public

Astronomy News - 16 March 2015 - 10:27am

A software application based on an algorithm created by a NASA challenge has the potential to increase the number of new asteroid discoveries by amateur astronomers.

NASA's Hubble Observations Suggest Underground Ocean on Jupiter's Largest Moon

Astronomy News - 13 March 2015 - 10:16am

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Nearly 500 million miles from the Sun lies a moon orbiting Jupiter that is slightly larger than the planet Mercury and may contain more water than all of Earth's oceans. Temperatures are so cold, though, that water on the surface freezes as hard as rock and the ocean lies roughly 100 miles below the crust. Nevertheless, where there is water there could be life as we know it. Identifying liquid water on other worlds big or small is crucial in the search for habitable planets beyond Earth. Though the presence of an ocean on Ganymede has been long predicted based on theoretical models, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope found the best evidence for it. Hubble was used to watch aurorae glowing above the moon's icy surface. The aurorae are tied to the moon's magnetic field, which descends right down to the core of Ganymede. A saline ocean would influence the dynamics of the magnetic field as it interacts with Jupiter's own immense magnetic field, which engulfs Ganymede. Because telescopes can't look inside planets or moons, tracing the magnetic field through aurorae is a unique way to probe the interior of another world.

NASA’s Hubble Observations Suggest Underground Ocean on Jupiter's Largest Moon

Astronomy News - 13 March 2015 - 10:16am

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has the best evidence yet for an underground saltwater ocean on Ganymede, Jupiter’s largest moon. The subterranean ocean is thought to have more water than all the water on Earth's surface.

The UK's best solar eclipse this decade happens next Friday, 20 March! Everyone...

Astronomy News - 13 March 2015 - 10:15am
The UK's best solar eclipse this decade happens next Friday, 20 March!

Everyone in the UK will be able to see it - provided there's no cloud. Our booklet explains what you will be able to see and how to view the eclipse safely.

https://www.ras.org.uk/publications/other-publications/2577-how-to-observe-an-eclipse-safely


How to observe an eclipse safely
www.ras.org.uk
What is a solar eclipse, and how is it caused? What can members of the public expect to see, and how can they observe an eclipse safely?This booklet explains the answers to these questions and more.