Institute of Astronomy

News and Press Releases

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.

Kepler telescope spies details of TRAPPIST-1 system’s outermost planet

Published on 22/05/2017 

Kepler telescope spies details of TRAPPIST-1 system’s outermost planet

University of Cambridge astronomers are part of an international team that used data gathered by the Kepler Space Telescope to observe and confirm details of the outermost of seven exoplanets orbiting the star TRAPPIST-1. The observations confirm, as had been predicted, that the seventh and outermost planet, TRAPPIST-1h, orbits its star every 18.77 days.

Icy ring around young planetary system has similar chemical fingerprint to our solar system

Published on 17/05/2017 

Icy ring around young planetary system has similar chemical fingerprint to our solar system

An international team of astronomers, including researchers from the University of Cambridge, has made the most detailed image of the ring of dusty debris surrounding a young star and found that the ice content of colliding comets within it is similar to comets in our own solar system.

Using novel gas observations to probe exocomet composition

Published on 04/05/2017 

Astronomers have determined a way to tell the chemical composition of exocomets in a large number of nearby planetary systems for the first time, using the comparison of a new gas model to recent ALMA data.