Institute of Astronomy

News and Press Releases

Professor Gerard F Gilmore FRS

Published on 03/05/2013 

The Director of the Institute of Astronomy is delighted to announce the election of Professor Gerard F Gilmore to the Fellowship of the Royal Society on 2 May 2013.

The citation for Gerry details his pioneering work in the study of the Milky Way and its satellite galaxies. Gerry's leadership role in the forthcoming GAIA mission is also highlighted.

The Royal Society is the national Academy of science in the UK and the Fellowship is made up of the most eminent scientists, engineers and technologists from the UK and the Commonwealth. Fellows are elected for life through a peer review process on the basis of excellence in science. The Institute has eight Fellows among its current and emeritus staff.

Astronomers and cancer researchers team up to beat cancer

Published on 19/02/2013 

Cancer Research UK and Institute of Astronomy  scientists have honed techniques originally developed to spot distant galaxies and used them to identify biomarkers that signal a cancer’s aggressiveness among some 2,000 breast tumours, in a study published in the British Journal of Cancer.

The findings mean that the age-old practice of pathologists looking down the microscope to spot key differences in the staining of tumour samples could one day become a thing of the past.

Breakthrough study models dying stars in a lab

Published on 14/02/2013 

A team of scientists has successfully reproduced conditions in one of the most hostile environments in the galaxy, enabling them to find out more about how atoms behave in these extreme settings.

The study modelled conditions near to the surface of a white dwarf star - a stellar remnant comprising the dead embers which are left behind after Sun-like stars have exhausted their fuel. The environment is characterised by very high gravitational forces, very high temperatures, and occasionally very high magnetic fields.

Do missing Jupiters mean massive comet belts?

Published on 27/11/2012 

Do missing Jupiters mean massive comet belts?

Using ESA’s Herschel space observatory, astronomers have discovered vast comet belts surrounding two nearby planetary systems known to host only Earth-to-Neptune-mass worlds. The comet reservoirs could have delivered life-giving oceans to the innermost planets.

Giant black holes found lurking in survey data

Published on 10/10/2012 

Scientists at the University of Cambridge have used cutting-edge infrared surveys of the sky to discover a new population of enormous, rapidly growing supermassive black holes in the early Universe. The black holes were previously undetected because they sit cocooned within thick layers of dust. The new study has shown however that they are emitting vast amounts of radiation through violent interactions with their host galaxies. The team will publish their results in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.