Institute of Astronomy

News and Press Releases

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.

Are a companion's comets a key to a curious exoplanet system?

Published on 17/12/2013 

The nearby star Fomalhaut A hosts the most famous planetary system outside our own Solar System, containing both an exoplanet and a spectacular ring of comets. Today, an international team of astronomers announced a new discovery with the Herschel Space Observatory that has made this system even more intriguing; the least massive star of the three in the Fomalhaut system, Fomalhaut C, has now been found to host its own comet belt. The researchers published their results today in a letter to the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Stargazing Live event on Saturday 11th January

Published on 06/12/2013 

Extra public observing for Stargazing Live

The Institute of Astronomy and the Cambridge Astronomical Association will be holding an extra public observing session between 6 - 8pm on Saturday 11th January 2014 in support of the BBC's Stargazing Live.

If the weather is clear.... we shall be outside staffing telescopes outside on the Observatory lawns

A First Look at the Gravitational Universe

Published on 04/12/2013 

A First Look at the Gravitational Universe

ESA selects the science theme for the L3 mission

The Science Programme Committee of the European Space Agency (ESA) announced on November 28th that the science theme for the L3 mission opportunity would be "The Gravitational Universe", a proposal to make astrophysical observations in a completely new way, through the detection of gravitational waves.