Institute of Astronomy

Astronomy News

First Light for SPECULOOS

6 December 2018 - 9:20am
The SPECULOOS project has made its first observations at the European Southern Observatory’s Paranal Observatory in northern Chile. SPECULOOS will focus on detecting Earth-sized planets orbiting nearby ultra-cool stars and brown dwarfs.

Daily briefing: Spying signs of a mega black-hole merger

6 December 2018 - 9:18am

Daily briefing: Spying signs of a mega black-hole merger

Daily briefing: Spying signs of a mega black-hole merger, Published online: 05 December 2018; doi:10.1038/d41586-018-07660-y

A glut of gravitational-wave results, a petition backing a plan to do away with paywalled research, and the first healthy birth from a womb transplanted from a deceased donor.

An experiment to search for dark-matter interactions using sodium iodide detectors

6 December 2018 - 9:18am

An experiment to search for dark-matter interactions using sodium iodide detectors

An experiment to search for dark-matter interactions using sodium iodide detectors, Published online: 05 December 2018; doi:10.1038/s41586-018-0739-1

Early results from the COSINE-100 experiment—designed to test a much-debated claim of the detection of a dark-matter signal—show no indications of dark matter, providing evidence against the previous claim.

Epic storm roils a tranquil region of Neptune

6 December 2018 - 9:18am

Epic storm roils a tranquil region of Neptune

Epic storm roils a tranquil region of Neptune, Published online: 05 December 2018; doi:10.1038/d41586-018-07622-4

Amateur astronomers help to track a disturbance in the icy planet’s atmosphere.

These dusty young stars are changing the rules of planet-building

5 December 2018 - 9:13am

These dusty young stars are changing the rules of planet-building

These dusty young stars are changing the rules of planet-building, Published online: 04 December 2018; doi:10.1038/d41586-018-07591-8

Astronomers peer inside planetary nurseries for clues about how our Solar System and others came to be.

Gravitational-wave astronomers detect hints of largest black-hole merger yet

5 December 2018 - 9:12am

Gravitational-wave astronomers detect hints of largest black-hole merger yet

Gravitational-wave astronomers detect hints of largest black-hole merger yet, Published online: 04 December 2018; doi:10.1038/d41586-018-07649-7

Physicists at the LIGO experiment have now detected 11 cosmic events that produce ripples in the fabric of space-time.

Gravitational waves: Monster black hole merger detected

4 December 2018 - 9:17am

Laser labs sense gravitational waves from a black hole collision at least five billion light-years away.

Osiris-Rex: Nasa probe arrives at Asteroid Bennu

4 December 2018 - 9:16am

Nasa's Osiris-Rex spacecraft moves alongside the 500m-wide rock from which it hopes to grab a sample.

NASA'S OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Arrives at Asteroid Bennu

4 December 2018 - 9:16am
NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft completed its 1.2 billion-mile (2 billion-kilometer) journey to arrive at the asteroid Bennu Monday.

Primordial black holes limited to 40% of dark matter

4 December 2018 - 9:15am
Primordial black holes that formed in the early universe are unlikely to account for more than two-fifths of all dark matter.

Call for revamp of astrobiology

4 December 2018 - 9:15am
NASA must revamp its astrobiology strategy if it is to make progress tackling the question of whether life exists beyond Earth.

NASA Awards Optical Telescope Assembly for Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope Mission

3 December 2018 - 9:51am
NASA has awarded a contract to Harris Corporation of Rochester, New York, for the Optical Telescope Assembly (OTA) for the agency’s Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) mission.

Asteroid-sampling mission zeroes in on tiny space rock

3 December 2018 - 9:50am

Asteroid-sampling mission zeroes in on tiny space rock

Asteroid-sampling mission zeroes in on tiny space rock, Published online: 29 November 2018; doi:10.1038/d41586-018-07563-y

US spacecraft aims to return the largest trove of space dirt to Earth since NASA's final Apollo mission in the 1970s.

China set to launch first-ever spacecraft to the far side of the Moon

3 December 2018 - 9:50am

China set to launch first-ever spacecraft to the far side of the Moon

China set to launch first-ever spacecraft to the far side of the Moon, Published online: 30 November 2018; doi:10.1038/d41586-018-07562-z

Chang’e-4 mission will test plant growth on the Moon, and listen for radio emissions normally blocked by Earth's atmosphere.

Nasa Mission: InSight successfully lands on Mars

27 November 2018 - 9:25am

The probe has already taken its first picture from the surface of the red planet.

NASA InSight Lander Arrives on Martian Surface to Learn What Lies Beneath

27 November 2018 - 9:25am
Mars has just received its newest robotic resident.

Astronomers have an outsize passion for outreach

27 November 2018 - 9:23am

Astronomers have an outsize passion for outreach

Astronomers have an outsize passion for outreach, Published online: 26 November 2018; doi:10.1038/d41586-018-07519-2

The vast majority of professional astronomers surveyed globally said they engage with the public about science — and few are motivated by prizes.

Touchdown! Mars InSight lander reaches red planet

27 November 2018 - 9:23am

Touchdown! Mars InSight lander reaches red planet

Touchdown! Mars InSight lander reaches red planet, Published online: 26 November 2018; doi:10.1038/d41586-018-07540-5

Joint US-French-German mission will be the first dedicated to listening for seismic energy rippling through Mars.

Exoplanet mission launch slot announced

26 November 2018 - 9:28am

The Characterising Exoplanet Satellite, CHEOPS, will target 15 October to 14 November 2019 for launch.

From gamma rays to X-rays: new method pinpoints previously unnoticed pulsar emission

22 November 2018 - 9:39am

Based on a new theoretical model, a team of scientists explored the rich data archive of ESA's XMM-Newton and NASA's Chandra space observatories to find pulsating X-ray emission from three sources. The discovery, relying on previous gamma-ray observations of the pulsars, provides a novel tool to investigate the mysterious mechanisms of pulsar emission, which will be important to understand these fascinating objects and use them for space navigation in the future.