Institute of Astronomy

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NASA Extends Contract for Hubble Space Telescope Mission Operations

Astronomy News - 1 September 2016 - 9:59am
NASA has awarded a contract extension to Lockheed Martin Space Systems Corporation (LMSSC) of Greenbelt, Maryland, to continue maintaining the health and safety of the agency’s Hubble Space Telescope observatory through the next phase of its science mission.

First stars formed even later than previously thought

Astronomy News - 1 September 2016 - 9:57am

ESA's Planck satellite has revealed that the first stars in the Universe started forming later than previous observations of the Cosmic Microwave Background indicated. This new analysis also shows that these stars were the only sources needed to account for reionising atoms in the cosmos, having completed half of this process when the Universe had reached an age of 700 million years.

Imaging tiny comet dust in 3D

Astronomy News - 1 September 2016 - 9:56am

Rosetta has imaged the smallest grains of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko's dust yet, with its Micro-Imaging Dust Analysis System, MIDAS.

Mysterious signal unlikely to be aliens after SETI draws a blank

Astronomy News - 31 August 2016 - 9:23am

Radio telescopes across the world are swinging toward an intriguing signal that could point toward an intelligent extraterrestrial civilisation, but have come up empty

XMM-Newton reveals the Milky Way's explosive past

Astronomy News - 31 August 2016 - 9:21am

A giant bubble surrounding the centre of the Milky Way shows that six million years ago our Galaxy's supermassive black hole was ablaze with furious energy. It also shines a light on the hiding place of the Galaxy's so-called 'missing' matter.

New Solar System objects revealed

Astronomy News - 31 August 2016 - 9:19am

Astronomers in the US have uncovered previously unknown objects in the outer reaches of the Solar System.

Proxima b’s star could be blasting away the planet’s atmosphere

Astronomy News - 30 August 2016 - 9:56am

We’ve just found a potentially habitable exoplanet nearby, but monthly violent outbursts from the star Proxima Centauri could be bad news for life

Rosetta captures comet outburst

Astronomy News - 26 August 2016 - 9:02am

In unprecedented observations made earlier this year, Rosetta unexpectedly captured a dramatic comet outburst that may have been triggered by a landslide.

Proxima b: 7 big questions about the new planet next door

Astronomy News - 26 August 2016 - 9:00am

We’ve just discovered a planet in the nearest star system that could potentially host life. How do we find out more, and can we go visit?

Getting to Proxima b might become an existential requirement

Astronomy News - 26 August 2016 - 8:59am

Current starshot ventures to get to our new neighbour are too expensive to be practical, but finding out more about the planet should be a high priority

Ghost galaxy is 99.99 per cent dark matter with almost no stars

Astronomy News - 26 August 2016 - 8:59am

We've spotted a galaxy that weighs almost as much as the Milky Way yet has 1 per cent the number of stars, suggesting it’s chock-full of dark matter

Planet Found in Habitable Zone Around Nearest Star

Astronomy News - 25 August 2016 - 9:22am
Astronomers using ESO telescopes and other facilities have found clear evidence of a planet orbiting the closest star to Earth, Proxima Centauri. The long-sought world, designated Proxima b, orbits its cool red parent star every 11 days and has a temperature suitable for liquid water to exist on its surface. This rocky world is a little more massive than the Earth and is the closest exoplanet to us — and it may also be the closest possible abode for life outside the Solar System. A paper describing this milestone finding will be published in the journal Nature on 25 August 2016.

A terrestrial planet candidate in a temperate orbit around Proxima Centauri

Astronomy News - 25 August 2016 - 9:20am

A terrestrial planet candidate in a temperate orbit around Proxima Centauri

Nature 536, 7617 (2016). doi:10.1038/nature19106

Authors: Guillem Anglada-Escudé, Pedro J. Amado, John Barnes, Zaira M. Berdiñas, R. Paul Butler, Gavin A. L. Coleman, Ignacio de la Cueva, Stefan Dreizler, Michael Endl, Benjamin Giesers, Sandra V. Jeffers, James S. Jenkins, Hugh R. A. Jones, Marcin Kiraga, Martin Kürster, Marίa J. López-González, Christopher J. Marvin, Nicolás Morales, Julien Morin, Richard P. Nelson, José L. Ortiz, Aviv Ofir, Sijme-Jan Paardekooper, Ansgar Reiners, Eloy Rodríguez, Cristina Rodrίguez-López, Luis F. Sarmiento, John P. Strachan, Yiannis Tsapras, Mikko Tuomi & Mathias Zechmeister

At a distance of 1.295 parsecs, the red dwarf Proxima Centauri (α Centauri C, GL 551, HIP 70890 or simply Proxima) is the Sun’s closest stellar neighbour and one of the best-studied low-mass stars. It has an effective temperature of only around 3,050 kelvin,

Astronomy: Earth-like planet around Sun's neighbour

Astronomy News - 25 August 2016 - 9:18am

Astronomy: Earth-like planet around Sun's neighbour

Nature 536, 7617 (2016). doi:10.1038/536408a

Authors: Artie P. Hatzes

An Earth-mass planet has been discovered in orbit around Proxima Centauri, the closest star to our Sun. The planet orbits at a distance from the star such that liquid water and potentially life could exist on its surface. See Letter p.437

Astronomy: Dark-matter evidence weakens

Astronomy News - 25 August 2016 - 9:17am

Astronomy: Dark-matter evidence weakens

Nature 536, 7617 (2016). doi:10.1038/536377b

A survey of X-ray light from galaxy clusters has found no evidence of dark matter decaying, in the latest in a series of contradictory results.In 2014, two separate teams found an unexpected bump in the energy spectra of dozens of galaxy clusters. Emissions at

Earth-sized planet around nearby star is astronomy dream come true

Astronomy News - 25 August 2016 - 9:17am

Earth-sized planet around nearby star is astronomy dream come true

Nature 536, 7617 (2016). http://www.nature.com/doifinder/10.1038/nature.2016.20445

Author: Alexandra Witze

Planet orbiting Proxima Centauri is likely to be the focus of future interstellar voyages.

If Earth-like planet Proxima b has life, what might it be like?

Astronomy News - 25 August 2016 - 9:16am

Author Stephen Baxter wonders if the newly discovered Proxima b could resemble Per Ardua, the life-bearing world he imagined around the same nearby star

Proxima Centauri: Nearest Earth-sized world discovered

Astronomy News - 25 August 2016 - 9:13am

Scientists identify a planet only slightly larger than Earth that is orbiting Proxima Centauri - the closest star to our Solar System.

Five ways Proxima b find is important

Astronomy News - 25 August 2016 - 9:10am

Scientists have discovered a planet similar to Earth that is orbiting our Sun's nearest neighbour, Proxima Centauri.

Seeking ET

Astronomy News - 25 August 2016 - 9:09am

How do astronomers decide whether a planet is potentially habitable?