Institute of Astronomy

Press Releases

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.

Cold gas cloud shadows in the glare of a supermassive black hole

Published on 06/06/2016 

‘Shadows’ cast by molecular clouds moving toward the supermassive black hole. imprinting absorption lines on the continuum-subtracted spectrum from the region around the core of the galaxy.

First evidence of icy comets orbiting a sun-like star

Published on 17/05/2016 

Illustration of the dust ring surrounding HD 181327. Credit: Amanda Smith, University of Cambridge.

First evidence of icy comets orbiting a sun-like star

An international team of astronomers have found evidence of ice and comets orbiting a nearby sun-like star, which could give a glimpse into how our own solar system developed.

Three potentially habitable worlds found around nearby ultracool dwarf star

Published on 10/05/2016 

Three Earth-sized planets have been discovered orbiting a dim and cool star, and may be the best place to search for life beyond the Solar System.

The discovery of a planetary system around such a small star opens up a brand new avenue for research.

Winds a quarter the speed of light spotted leaving mysterious binary stars

Published on 26/04/2016 

Artist’s impression depicting a compact object – either a black hole or a neutron star – feeding on gas from a companion star in a binary system. Credit: ESA–C. Carreau

Winds a quarter the speed of light spotted leaving mysterious binary systems

Streams of gas have been spotted streaming away from a mysterious star system at a quarter the speed of light.