Institute of Astronomy

News and Press Releases

Black Hole has major flare

Published on 28/10/2015 
This diagram shows how a shifting feature, called a corona, can create a flare of X-rays around a black hole. The corona (feature represented in purplish colors) gathers inward (left), becoming brighter, before shooting away from the black hole (middle and right). Astronomers don't know why the coronas shift, but they have learned that this process leads to a brightening of X-ray light that can be observed by telescopes. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Using stellar ‘twins’ to reach the outer limits of the galaxy

Published on 07/09/2015 

Astronomers from the University of Cambridge have developed a new, highly accurate method of measuring the distances between stars, which could be used to measure the size of the galaxy, enabling greater understanding of how it evolved.

Gaia's first year of scientific observations

Published on 26/08/2015 

On  Friday, 21 August, ESA’s billion-star surveyor, Gaia, completed its first year of science observations in its main survey mode.

Gaia satellite and amateur astronomers spot one in a billion star

Published on 22/07/2015 

Artist’s impression of Gaia14aae. Credit: Marisa Grove/Institute of Astronomy

The Gaia satellite has discovered a unique binary system where one star is ‘eating’ the other, but neither star has any hydrogen, the most common element in the Universe. The system could be an important tool for understanding how binary stars might explode at the end of their lives.

Gaia satellite and amateur astronomers spot one in a billion star

Published on 17/07/2015 

An international team of researchers, with the assistance of amateur astronomers, have discovered a unique binary star system: the first known such system where one star completely eclipses the other. It is a type of two-star system known as a Cataclysmic Variable, where one super dense white dwarf star is stealing gas from its companion star, effectively ‘cannibalising’ it.