Institute of Astronomy

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Rosetta measures production of water at comet over two years

Astronomy News - 29 September 2016 - 9:36am
Over the past two years, Rosetta has kept a close eye on many properties of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, tracking how these changed along the comet's orbit. A very crucial aspect concerns how much water vapour a comet releases into space, and how the water production rate varies at different distances from the Sun. For the first time, Rosetta enabled scientists to monitor this quantity and its evolution in situ over two years.

Why does the Europa water plume matter?

Astronomy News - 28 September 2016 - 9:05am

Professor Michele Dougherty explains the importance of the water plumes on Jupiter's moon

NASA’s Hubble Spots Possible Water Plumes Erupting on Jupiter's Moon Europa

Astronomy News - 27 September 2016 - 10:52am
Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have imaged what may be water vapor plumes erupting off the surface of Jupiter's moon Europa. This finding bolsters other Hubble observations suggesting the icy moon erupts with high altitude water vapor plumes.

Hubble Finds Planet Orbiting Pair of Stars

Astronomy News - 27 September 2016 - 10:51am

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Two is company, but three might not always be a crowd, at least in space. When astronomers found an extrasolar planet orbiting a neighboring star, a detailed analysis of the data uncovered a third body. But astronomers couldn't definitively identify whether the object was another planet or another star in the system.

NASA's Hubble Spots Possible Water Plumes Erupting on Jupiter's Moon Europa

Astronomy News - 27 September 2016 - 10:50am

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New findings from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope show suspected water plumes erupting from Jupiter's icy moon Europa. These observations bolster earlier Hubble work suggesting that Europa is venting water vapor. A team of astronomers, led by William Sparks of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, observed these finger-like projections while viewing Europa's limb as the moon passed in front of Jupiter. The team was inspired to use this observing method by studies of atmospheres of planets orbiting other stars.

ALMA Explores the Hubble Ultra Deep Field

Astronomy News - 27 September 2016 - 10:47am
International teams of astronomers have used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to explore the distant corner of the Universe first revealed in the iconic images of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF). These new ALMA observations are significantly deeper and sharper than previous surveys at millimetre wavelengths. They clearly show how the rate of star formation in young galaxies is closely related to their total mass in stars. They also trace the previously unknown abundance of star-forming gas at different points in time, providing new insights into the “Golden Age” of galaxy formation approximately 10 billion years ago.

Hubble helps find light-bending world with two suns [heic1619]

Astronomy News - 27 September 2016 - 10:44am

A distant planet orbiting two stars, found by its warping of spacetime, has been confirmed using observations from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The planet's mass caused what is known as a microlensing event, where light is bent by an object's gravitational field. The event was observed in 2007, making this the first circumbinary planet to be confirmed following detection of a microlensing event.

China's colossal radio telescope begins testing

Astronomy News - 27 September 2016 - 10:42am

The world's largest radio telescope has received its first signals from space and is now entering an intensive testing phase.

Europa moon 'spewing water jets'

Astronomy News - 27 September 2016 - 10:41am

Further evidence has been obtained to show that Jupiter's icy moon Europa throws jets of water out into space.

Water spotted spurting from Jupiter's moon

Astronomy News - 27 September 2016 - 10:41am

Nasa says jets of water spotted spurting from Jupiter's moon, Europa, take them a step closer to finding out if there is life in space.

Exoplanets: Migration of giants

Astronomy News - 22 September 2016 - 10:03am

Exoplanets: Migration of giants

Nature 537, 7621 (2016). doi:10.1038/nature19430

Authors: Amaury Triaud

The origin of hot Jupiters, large gaseous planets in close orbits around stars, is unknown. Observations suggest that such planets are abundant in stellar clusters, and can result from encounters with other celestial bodies.

Detailed map shows Milky Way is bigger than we thought

Astronomy News - 22 September 2016 - 9:56am

Detailed map shows Milky Way is bigger than we thought

Nature 537, 7621 (2016).

Author: Davide Castelvecchi

First results from Gaia probe also seem to solve old controversy over Pleiades cluster.

Astronomy: Universe much richer in galaxies

Astronomy News - 22 September 2016 - 9:53am

Astronomy: Universe much richer in galaxies

Nature 537, 7621 (2016). doi:10.1038/537453e

The observable Universe is populated by between 1 trillion and 3 trillion galaxies, almost 10 times more than previously estimated.A team led by Christopher Conselice at the University of Nottingham, UK, estimated this number using various telescope surveys that revealed evolving galaxy abundances since

New NASA budget could put asteroid-grabbing mission in jeopardy

Astronomy News - 22 September 2016 - 9:41am

The proposed mission to lasso an asteroid and haul it closer to Earth is not "commensurate with the cost", says Congress

ALMA Uncovers Secrets of Giant Space Blob

Astronomy News - 22 September 2016 - 9:38am
An international team using ALMA, along with ESO’s Very Large Telescope and other telescopes, has discovered the true nature of a rare object in the distant Universe called a Lyman-alpha Blob. Up to now astronomers did not understand what made these huge clouds of gas shine so brightly, but ALMA has now seen two galaxies at the heart of one of these objects and they are undergoing a frenzy of star formation that is lighting up their surroundings. These large galaxies are in turn at the centre of a swarm of smaller ones in what appears to be an early phase in the formation of a massive cluster of galaxies. The two ALMA sources are expected to evolve into a single giant elliptical galaxy.

China space station to fall to Earth in 2017

Astronomy News - 22 September 2016 - 9:35am

China's first space station is expected to fall back to Earth in the second half of 2017, amid speculation authorities have lost control of it.

NASA to Hold Media Call on Evidence of Surprising Activity on Europa

Astronomy News - 21 September 2016 - 8:58am
NASA will host a teleconference at 2 p.m. EDT Monday, Sept. 26, to present new findings from images captured by the agency’s Hubble Space Telescope of Jupiter’s icy moon, Europa.

The warps in space that make Einstein’s perfect cosmic accident

Astronomy News - 20 September 2016 - 9:17am

Warped gravitational lenses predicted by Einstein are some of the most beautiful – and useful – objects in the sky. We've seen a few dozen, but which is the most perfect?

‘Alien megastructure’ star may be explained by interstellar junk

Astronomy News - 20 September 2016 - 9:16am

It seems the famous star isn’t the only one that’s dimming strangely – a result that suggests interstellar rocks might be the culprit for this behaviour

Supernova extraordinaire might actually be a black hole’s lunch

Astronomy News - 20 September 2016 - 9:15am

What looked like the brightest supernova ever spotted might in fact be the death gasp of a star being swallowed by a black hole