Institute of Astronomy

News and Press Releases

The spiralling signatures of planet formation

Published on 24/04/2017 

A young star recently observed to be surrounded by spiralling gas and dust could be one of the first to show planet formation ‘in action’ via a mechanism once thought to be unlikely.

Astrophysicists at the University of Cambridge, led by Dr Farzana Meru and Dr Attila Juhász, have used theoretical models to determine the origins of the striking large-scale spiral features surrounding a nearby star.

Stars Born in Winds from Supermassive Black Holes

Published on 24/03/2017 

Observations using ESO’s Very Large Telescope have revealed stars forming within powerful outflows of material blasted out from supermassive black holes at the cores of galaxies. These are the first confirmed observations of stars forming in this kind of extreme environment. The discovery has many consequences for understanding galaxy properties and evolution.

Rapid changes point to origin of ultra-fast black hole winds

Published on 28/02/2017 

Astronomers have made the most detailed observation yet of an ultra-fast wind emanating from a Black Hole at a quarter of the speed of light. Using the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton and NASA’s NuSTAR telescopes, the scientists observed the phenomenon in an active galaxy known as IRAS 13224-3809.

Newly discovered planets could have water on their surfaces

Published on 22/02/2017 

Representation of the planetary system from above. The star is at the centre and the planets are in orbit around it. The relative sizes of the planets are correct, but on a different scale to their distance to the star. More figures available below.

Mapping the family tree of stars

Published on 20/02/2017 

Evolutionary tree of near-by stars constructed using the genetic code MEGA and 17 different chemical elements as the stellar DNA. Credit: Amanda Smith