Institute of Astronomy

Press Releases

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

Black-Hole-Powered Jets Forge Fuel for Star Formation

Published on 14/02/2017 

Composite image showing how powerful radio jets from the supermassive black hole at the center of a galaxy in the Phoenix Cluster inflated huge "bubbles" in the hot, ionized gas surrounding the galaxy (the cavities inside the blue region imaged by NASA's Chandra X-ray observatory). Hugging the outside of these bubbles, ALMA discovered an unexpected trove of cold gas, the fuel for star formation (red). The background image is from the Hubble Space Telescope. Credit: ALMA (ECO/NAOJ/NRAO) H. Russell, et al.; NASA/ESA Hubble; NASA/CSC/MIT/M. McDonald et al.; B.

A bridge of stars connects two dwarf galaxies

Published on 12/02/2017 
Figure caption: The Magellanic Clouds, their stellar halos and the RR Lyrae bridge. Pale white veils and the narrow bridge between the Clouds represent the distribution of the RR Lyrae stars detected with the data from the Gaia satellite. Credit: V. Belokurov, D. Erkal and A. Mellinger

The death of a planet nursery?

Published on 22/09/2016 

Planetary disc around the star known as TW Hydrae. Source: S. Andrews (Harvard-Smithsonian CfA); B. Saxton (NRAO/AUI/NSF); ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)

The dusty disc surrounding the star TW Hydrae exhibits circular features that may signal the formation of protoplanets. Cambridge astronomer Giovanni Rosotti is one of a team of astronomers led by LMU astrophysicist Barbara Ercolano who argue that the innermost feature actually points to the impending dispersal of the disc.

Astronomers identify a young heavyweight star in the Milky Way

Published on 19/08/2016 

Astronomers identify a young heavyweight star in the Milky Way

A young star over 30 times more massive than the Sun could help us understand how the most extreme stars in the Universe are born.

The First Atmospheric Study of Earth-Sized Exoplanets

Published on 19/07/2016 

First atmospheric study of Earth-sized exoplanets excites researchers

Two Earth-sized exoplanets have become the first rocky worlds to have their atmospheres studied using the Hubble Space Telescope.

Planets similar to Jupiter are likely able to form on orbits shorter than the Earth’s

Published on 15/07/2016 

Planets similar to Jupiter are likely able to form on orbits shorter than the Earth's

After analyzing four years of Kepler space telescope observations, astronomers from the University of Toronto, and of the University of Cambridge have given us our clearest understanding yet of a class of exoplanets called “warm Jupiters”, showing that many have unexpected planetary companions

Gravitational vortex provides new way to study matter close to a black hole

Published on 11/07/2016 

Gravitational vortex provides new way to study matter close to a black hole

An international team of astronomers has proved the existence of a ‘gravitational vortex’ around a black hole, solving a mystery that has eluded astronomers for more than 30 years. The discovery will allow astronomers to map the behaviour of matter very close to black holes. It could also open the door to future investigation of Albert Einstein’s general relativity.

The quiet intracluster medium of the Perseus Cluster

Published on 06/07/2016 

The quiet intracluster medium of the Perseus cluster

With its very first observation, the Hitomi X-ray observatory has discovered that the gas in the Perseus cluster of galaxies is much less turbulent than expected. This is a surprise because the Perseus cluster is home to NGC 1275, a highly energetic active galaxy.

ALMA detects the most distant oxygen ever

Published on 14/06/2016 

ALMA detects the most distant oxygen ever

An international team of astronomers have detected glowing oxygen in a distant galaxy seen just 700 million years after the Big Bang. This is the most distant galaxy in which oxygen has ever been unambiguously detected, and it is most likely being ionised by powerful radiation from young giant stars. This galaxy could be an example of one type of source responsible for cosmic reionisation in the early history of the Universe.