Institute of Astronomy

News and Press Releases

An inferno world with titanium skies

Published on 13/09/2017 

An international team of astronomers has detected titanium oxide in the atmosphere of an exoplanet for the first time. The results, reported in the journal Nature, provide unique information about the chemical composition and the temperature and pressure structure of the atmosphere of this unusual and very hot world.

Flashes of light on dark matter

Published on 19/07/2017 

Studying the intergalactic space using the light coming from very distant quasars: thanks to simulations using a supercomputer, new research has offered new evidence on one of the great mysteries of the Universe.

A star the size of Saturn

Published on 08/07/2017 

The smallest star yet measured has been discovered by a team of astronomers led by the University of Cambridge. With a size just a sliver larger than that of Saturn, the gravitational pull at its stellar surface is about 300 times stronger than what humans feel on Earth. This star is likely about as small as stars can possibly become, meaning that this is one of the most compact instance of a naturally occurring hydrogen-fusion reactor.

The fastest stars in the Milky Way are ‘runaways’ from another galaxy

Published on 03/07/2017 

A group of astronomers have shown that the fastest-moving stars in our galaxy – which are travelling so fast that they can escape the Milky Way – are in fact runaways from a much smaller galaxy in orbit around
our own.

The researchers, from the University of Cambridge, used data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and computer simulations to demonstrate that these stellar sprinters originated in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), a dwarf galaxy in orbit around the Milky Way.

ESA exoplanet PLATO mission moves towards construction

Published on 20/06/2017 

The ESA SPC meeting on 20-21 June has now agreed to the adoption of the PLATO mission, following its selection in February 2014. This means it can move from a blueprint into construction. In the coming months industry will be asked to make bids to supply the spacecraft platform. Whilst its payload and control and analysis software will be constructed by agencies and institutes across Europe.