Institute of Astronomy

Astronomy News

XMM-Newton finds missing intergalactic material

22 June 2018 - 9:32am

After a nearly twenty-year long game of cosmic hide-and-seek, astronomers using ESA's XMM-Newton space observatory have finally found evidence of hot, diffuse gas permeating the cosmos, closing a puzzling gap in the overall budget of 'normal' matter in the Universe.

Rosetta image archive complete

22 June 2018 - 9:31am

All high-resolution images and the underpinning data from Rosetta's pioneering mission at Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko are now available in ESA's archives, with the last release including the iconic images of finding lander Philae, and Rosetta's final descent to the comet's surface.

VLT Makes Most Precise Test of Einstein’s General Relativity Outside Milky Way

22 June 2018 - 9:30am
Astronomers using the MUSE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile, and the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, have made the most precise test yet of Einstein’s general theory of relativity outside the Milky Way. The nearby galaxy ESO 325-G004 acts as a strong gravitational lens, distorting light from a distant galaxy behind it to create an Einstein ring around its centre. By comparing the mass of ESO 325-G004 with the curvature of space around it, the astronomers found that gravity on these astronomical length-scales behaves as predicted by general relativity. This rules out some alternative theories of gravity.

Missing matter found in the cosmic web

22 June 2018 - 9:29am

Missing matter found in the cosmic web

Missing matter found in the cosmic web, Published online: 20 June 2018; doi:10.1038/d41586-018-05432-2

The location of nearly half of the ordinary matter in the Universe is unknown. X-ray observations suggest that this elusive ‘baryonic’ matter is hidden in the filamentary structure of the cosmic web.

Author Correction: A massive core for a cluster of galaxies at a redshift of 4.3

22 June 2018 - 9:29am

Author Correction: A massive core for a cluster of galaxies at a redshift of 4.3

Author Correction: A massive core for a cluster of galaxies at a redshift of 4.3, Published online: 21 June 2018; doi:10.1038/s41586-018-0285-x

Author Correction: A massive core for a cluster of galaxies at a redshift of 4.3

Distant galaxy’s ring of light proves Einstein right

22 June 2018 - 9:29am

Distant galaxy’s ring of light proves Einstein right

Distant galaxy’s ring of light proves Einstein right, Published online: 21 June 2018; doi:10.1038/d41586-018-05531-0

Observations of deflected light shore up general theory of relativity.

Federal Government Releases National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Plan

22 June 2018 - 9:28am
Portal origin URL: Federal Government Releases National Near-Earth Object Preparedness PlanPortal origin nid: 426563Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 - 12:19Featured (stick to top of list): noPortal text teaser: A new multiagency report outlines how the U.S. could become better prepared for near-Earth objects—asteroids and comets whose orbits come within 30 million miles of Earth—otherwise known as NEOs.Portal image: EarthScience Categories: Earth

New InSight into the Red Planet

22 June 2018 - 9:28am
Video Length: 3:36

We’ve always referred to Mars as the red planet because of its surface color. But what’s below that dusty crust? NASA's InSight mission is determined to find out.

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Video Links: New InSight into the Red Planet - mp4YouTubeVimeo

NASA to Host Media Teleconference on National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Report

20 June 2018 - 9:12am
NASA will host a media teleconference at 1 p.m. EDT Wednesday, June 20, to discuss a new report detailing U.S. plans for near-Earth objects (NEOs) that could pose a hazard to Earth.

'Dumpling-shaped' space rock comes into view

19 June 2018 - 9:28am

A Japanese space probe has been sending back images as it approaches its target, the asteroid Ryugu.

Star shredded by rare breed of black hole

19 June 2018 - 9:26am

ESA's XMM-Newton observatory has discovered the best-ever candidate for a very rare and elusive type of cosmic phenomenon: a medium-weight black hole in the process of tearing apart and feasting on a nearby star.

Maria Mitchell at 200: a pioneering astronomer who fought for women in science

19 June 2018 - 9:25am

Maria Mitchell at 200: a pioneering astronomer who fought for women in science

Maria Mitchell at 200: a pioneering astronomer who fought for women in science, Published online: 18 June 2018; doi:10.1038/d41586-018-05458-6

Richard Holmes celebrates Mitchell’s pedagogic fire and salty opinions on the bicentenary of her birth.

Exploring planetary plasma environments from your laptop

15 June 2018 - 9:18am

A new database of plasma simulations, combined with observational data and powerful visualisation tools, is providing planetary scientists with an unprecedented way to explore some of the Solar System's most interesting plasma environments.

A supermassive black hole’s every bite is captured

15 June 2018 - 9:17am

A supermassive black hole’s every bite is captured

A supermassive black hole’s every bite is captured, Published online: 14 June 2018; doi:10.1038/d41586-018-05439-9

A trove of data offers insights into the the bright jet unleashed by a star’s consumption.

Mars Opportunity: Rover 'should ride out storm'

14 June 2018 - 9:31am

Nasa says it is concerned but hopeful that a veteran robot rover can survive a big dust storm.

ALMA Discovers Trio of Infant Planets around Newborn Star

14 June 2018 - 9:30am
Two independent teams of astronomers have used ALMA to uncover convincing evidence that three young planets are in orbit around the infant star HD 163296. Using a novel planet-finding technique, the astronomers identified three disturbances in the gas-filled disc around the young star: the strongest evidence yet that newly formed planets are in orbit there. These are considered the first planets to be discovered with ALMA.

Curiosity rover sees seasonal Mars methane swing

8 June 2018 - 9:25am

Methane on the Red Planet waxes and wanes with the seasons - another clue in the search for life.

NASA Finds Ancient Organic Material, Mysterious Methane on Mars

8 June 2018 - 9:24am
NASA’s Curiosity rover has found new evidence preserved in rocks on Mars that suggests the planet could have supported ancient life, as well as new evidence in the Martian atmosphere that relates to the search for current life on the Red Planet.

Astronomy was his undoing: why a Colombian pioneer got shot

7 June 2018 - 9:30am

Astronomy was his undoing: why a Colombian pioneer got shot

Astronomy was his undoing: why a Colombian pioneer got shot, Published online: 06 June 2018; doi:10.1038/d41586-018-05341-4

Astronomy was his undoing: why a Colombian pioneer got shot

Prevalent lightning sferics at 600 megahertz near Jupiter’s poles

7 June 2018 - 9:27am

Prevalent lightning sferics at 600 megahertz near Jupiter’s poles

Prevalent lightning sferics at 600 megahertz near Jupiter’s poles, Published online: 06 June 2018; doi:10.1038/s41586-018-0156-5

Observations of broadband emission from lightning on Jupiter at 600 megahertz show a lightning discharge mechanism similar to that of terrestrial lightning and indicate increased moist convection near Jupiter’s poles.