Institute of Astronomy

Astronomy News

Earth's atmosphere stretches out to the Moon – and beyond

21 February 2019 - 9:49am

The outermost part of our planet's atmosphere extends well beyond the lunar orbit – almost twice the distance to the Moon.

Hubble helps uncover origin of Neptune's smallest moon Hippocamp [heic1904]

21 February 2019 - 9:49am

Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, along with older data from the Voyager 2 probe, have revealed more about the origin of Neptune's smallest moon. The moon, which was discovered in 2013 and has now received the official name Hippocamp, is believed to be a fragment of its larger neighbour Proteus.

A new moon for Neptune

21 February 2019 - 9:49am

A new moon for Neptune

A new moon for Neptune, Published online: 20 February 2019; doi:10.1038/d41586-019-00576-1

Hippocamp, a previously undetected moon of Neptune, has a peculiar location and a tiny size relative to the planet’s other inner moons, which suggests a violent history for the region within 100,000 kilometres of the planet.

The seventh inner moon of Neptune

21 February 2019 - 9:48am

The seventh inner moon of Neptune

The seventh inner moon of Neptune, Published online: 20 February 2019; doi:10.1038/s41586-019-0909-9

Hubble Space Telescope observations of the seventh inner moon of Neptune, Hippocamp, show that it is smaller than the other six, orbits near Proteus and probably originates from a fragment of Proteus.

Astronomy society pushes for diversity in US PhD programmes

21 February 2019 - 9:48am

Astronomy society pushes for diversity in US PhD programmes

Astronomy society pushes for diversity in US PhD programmes, Published online: 21 February 2019; doi:10.1038/d41586-019-00655-3

Task force hopes that a report on boosting participation by under-represented groups will ‘pull the alarm cord to say we can’t continue doing things the way we have been’.

SOFIA Uncovers Clues to the Evolution of Universe and Search for Life

21 February 2019 - 9:48am
Portal origin URL: SOFIA Uncovers Clues to the Evolution of Universe and Search for Life Portal origin nid: 440045Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2019 - 10:00Featured (stick to top of list): noPortal text teaser: Results from SOFIA reveal new clues to how stars form, galaxies evolve, and take one step closer to understanding the environment of Europa and its subsurface ocean.Portal image: Magnetic fields are shown as stream lines over this infrared image of the Orion Nebula, taken by the Very Large Telescope, ChileScience Categories: Universe

Coming soon: calls to prepare ESA's science programme for 2035–2050

19 February 2019 - 9:13am
What are the outstanding questions that ESA's science programme should address in the period 2035–2050? This is what the scientific community will be asked to consider when the next phase of the Agency's long-term planning for the science programme starts in earnest very soon.

Rosetta's comet sculpted by stress

19 February 2019 - 9:13am

Feeling stressed? You're not alone. ESA's Rosetta mission has revealed that geological stress arising from the shape of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko has been a key process in sculpting the comet's surface and interior following its formation.

A young star is sprinkled with table salt

18 February 2019 - 9:06am

A young star is sprinkled with table salt

A young star is sprinkled with table salt, Published online: 18 February 2019; doi:10.1038/d41586-019-00569-0

Dust particles might have given rise to the cosmic grains of an everyday seasoning.

Big Questions About Small Worlds

18 February 2019 - 9:06am
Video Length: 4:56

Small Worlds hold keys to questions about our solar system and the origin of life on Earth.

Read this story

Video Links: Big Questions About Small Worlds - mp4YouTubeVimeo

LIGO gravitational waves: Black hole detectors to get upgrade

15 February 2019 - 9:29am

The UK and US governments announce a £25m project to improve the sensitivity of the LIGO facilities.

Gravitational-wave observatory LIGO set to double its detecting power

15 February 2019 - 9:27am

Gravitational-wave observatory LIGO set to double its detecting power

Gravitational-wave observatory LIGO set to double its detecting power, Published online: 15 February 2019; doi:10.1038/d41586-019-00573-4

A planned US$35-million upgrade could enable LIGO to spot one black-hole merger per hour by the mid-2020s.

Opportunity lost: NASA says goodbye to pioneering Mars rover

14 February 2019 - 9:31am

Opportunity lost: NASA says goodbye to pioneering Mars rover

Opportunity lost: NASA says goodbye to pioneering Mars rover, Published online: 13 February 2019; doi:10.1038/d41586-019-00575-2

Final attempt to contact elderly robot fails, ending its 15-year mission to explore the red planet.

NASA Selects New Mission to Explore Origins of Universe

14 February 2019 - 9:30am
Portal origin URL: NASA Selects New Mission to Explore Origins of UniversePortal origin nid: 439794Published: Wednesday, February 13, 2019 - 16:00Featured (stick to top of list): noPortal text teaser: NASA has selected a new space mission that will help astronomers understand both how our universe evolved and how common are the ingredients for life in our galaxy’s planetary systems.Portal image: NASA's Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explorer (SPHEREx) mission Science Categories: Universe

Nasa's New Horizons: 'Space snowman' appears squashed

11 February 2019 - 9:27am

At first the distant icy object Ultima Thule looked like a snowman. Now it's a "gingerbread man".

Gaia clocks new speeds for Milky Way-Andromeda collision

8 February 2019 - 9:26am

ESA's Gaia satellite has looked beyond our Galaxy and explored two nearby galaxies to reveal the stellar motions within them and how they will one day interact and collide with the Milky Way – with surprising results.

Bubbles of Brand New Stars

7 February 2019 - 9:25am
This dazzling region of newly-forming stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) was captured by the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer instrument (MUSE) on ESO’s Very Large Telescope. The relatively small amount of dust in the LMC and MUSE’s acute vision allowed intricate details of the region to be picked out in visible light.

Giant impact might have shaped a distant world

7 February 2019 - 9:22am

Giant impact might have shaped a distant world

Giant impact might have shaped a distant world, Published online: 06 February 2019; doi:10.1038/d41586-019-00404-6

A smash-up in space could underlie the origins of an odd exoplanet couple.

Cosmic pile-up gives glimpse of how planets are made

6 February 2019 - 9:28am

Astronomers say they have the first evidence of a collision between two planets in a distant solar system.

Hubble fortuitously discovers a new galaxy in the cosmic neighbourhood [heic1903]

4 February 2019 - 11:43am

Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to study some of the oldest and faintest stars in the globular cluster NGC 6752 have made an unexpected finding. They discovered a dwarf galaxy in our cosmic backyard, only 30 million light-years away. The finding is reported in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters.