Institute of Astronomy

News and Press Releases

Isolating the stellar discs of Andromeda

Published on 15/02/2011 

A team of astronomers from the UK, the US and Europe have identified a thick stellar disc in the nearby Andromeda galaxy for the first time. The discovery and properties of the thick disc will constrain the dominant physical processes involved in the formation and evolution of large spiral galaxies like our own Milky Way.

By analysing precise measurements of the velocities of individual bright stars within the Andromeda galaxy using the Keck telescope in Hawaii, the team have managed to separate out stars tracing out a thick disc from those comprising the thin disc, and assess how they differ in height, width and chemistry.

New light shed on cosmic dark ages

Published on 05/01/2011 

Remnants of the first stars have helped astronomers get closer to unlocking the "dark ages" of the cosmos.

A team of researchers from the University of Cambridge and California Institute of Technology are using light emitted from massive black holes called quasars to "light up" gases released by the early stars, which exploded billions of years ago. As a result, they have found what they refer to as the missing link in the evolution of the chemical universe.

Starbursts in the Distant Universe

Published on 16/12/2010 

A team of Cambridge and international astronomers has presented the first conclusive evidence for a dramatic surge in star birth in a recently discovered population of massive galaxies in the early Universe.

Astronomers Find Evidence of Cosmic Climate Change

Published on 02/11/2010 

A team of astronomers has found evidence that the Universe may have gone through a warming trend early in its history. They measured the temperature of the gas that lies in between galaxies, and found a clear indication that it had increased steadily over the period from when the Universe was one tenth to one quarter of its current age. This cosmic climate change is most likely caused by the huge amount of energy output by young, active galaxies during this epoch.