Institute of Astronomy

News and Press Releases

Astronomers create first realistic virtual universe

Published on 07/05/2014 

Tracking 13 billion years of cosmic evolution, astronomers have created the first realistic virtual simulation of the Universe.

A newly-developed computer simulation has created the first realistic version of the Universe, enabling researchers to understand how galaxies, black holes and other cosmic phenomena developed from shortly after the Big Bang to the present day.

Stellar Stuff - Gaia Live in Schools

Published on 24/03/2014 

An IoA, Cambridge-led outreach project is connecting over 2,200 pupils with the excitement of ESA’s Gaia mission through a Q&A session that will take place tomorrow with the discussion streamed live to schools throughout Europe.

Will Gaia discover habitable planets similar to the Earth? Is the Universe infinite? Could Gaia be hit by a piece of space debris as in the film Gravity? How many planets are there in the Milky Way?

Galactic gas caused by colliding comets suggests mystery ‘shepherd’ exoplanet

Published on 06/03/2014 

Latest research has uncovered a massive clump of carbon monoxide in a young solar system. The gas is the result of near constant collisions of icy comets – suggesting vast swarms of tightly packed comets in thrall to the gravitational pull of an as-yet-unseen exoplanet.

Searching for new worlds with PLATO

Published on 20/02/2014 

Space eye with 34 telescopes will investigate one million stars

The exploration of planets around stars other than the Sun, known as extrasolar planets or ‘exoplanets’, is one of the most exciting topics of 21st century science. One of the key goals of this research is to discover and learn the properties of Earth-like worlds in the Sun’s neighbourhood. ESA, the European Space Agency, will do this in preparing a new space mission named PLATO. The mission’s launch is scheduled for 2024, and firm discoveries of Earth-like planets at Earth-like distances from stars similar to our Sun will be produced after three years of observational data have been collected. ESA’s Science Programme Committee voted for PLATO at its regular meeting in Paris on 19th and 20th February, 2014, where it was one of five proposed space projects for a so-called “M” mission.

Gaia-ESO data suggest Milky Way may have formed ‘inside-out’, and provide new insights into Galactic evolution

Published on 19/01/2014 

Gaia-ESO data show Milky Way may have formed ‘inside-out’, and provide new insight into Galactic evolution

Research on first data release from Gaia-ESO project suggests the Milky Way formed by expanding out from the centre, and reveals new insights into the way our Galaxy was assembled.