Institute of Astronomy

Astronomy News

How CHEOPS will investigate planet-hosting stars

19 July 2019 - 9:58am

As launch approaches for ESA's Characterising Exoplanet Satellite, CHEOPS, scientists are rounding off the observing plans for the mission, with the science themes of the core programme announced recently and proposals for guest observations for the first year of CHEOPS operations under evaluation.

Hawaii telescope protest shuts down 13 observatories on Mauna Kea

19 July 2019 - 9:56am

Nature, Published online: 18 July 2019; doi:10.1038/d41586-019-02222-2

Construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope was supposed to start on 15 July.

Chinas present and future lunar exploration program

19 July 2019 - 9:52am

Since the beginning of the 21st century, the pace of lunar exploration has accelerated, with more than a dozen probes having undertaken scientific exploration of the Moon. Prominent among these have been the robotic "Chang’E" (CE) missions of the China Lunar Exploration Program (CLEP). We discuss technological and scientific goals and achievements for the four completed, and four planned, CE missions, and longer-term goals and plans of the CLEP beyond the CE missions. The exploration plan is flexible and iterative, with an emphasis on international cooperation.

Analysis of lunar samples: Implications for planet formation and evolution

19 July 2019 - 9:52am

The analysis of lunar samples returned to Earth by the Apollo and Luna missions changed our view of the processes involved in planet formation. The data obtained on lunar samples brought to light the importance during planet growth of highly energetic collisions that lead to global-scale melting. This violent birth determines the initial structure and long-term evolution of planets. Once past its formative era, the lunar surface has served as a recorder of more than 4 billion years of interaction with the space environment. The chronologic record of lunar cratering determined from the returned samples underpins age estimates for planetary surfaces throughout the inner Solar System and provides evidence of the dynamic nature of the Solar System during the planet-forming era.

Response to Comment on "Earth and Moon impact flux increased at the end of the Paleozoic"

19 July 2019 - 9:51am

Hergarten et al. interpret our results in terms of erosion and uncertain calibration, rather than requiring an increase in impact flux. Geologic constraints indicate low long-term erosion rates on stable cratons where most craters with diameters of ≥20 kilometers occur. We statistically test their proposed recalibration of the lunar crater ages and find that it is disfavored relative to our original calibration.

Gaia starts mapping our galaxy’s bar

18 July 2019 - 9:27am

The first direct measurement of the bar-shaped collection of stars at the centre of our Milky Way galaxy has been made by combining data from ESA’s Gaia mission with complementary observations from ground- and space-based telescopes.

Cassini explores ring-like formations around Titan's lakes

18 July 2019 - 9:25am

Using observations from the international Cassini spacecraft, scientists have explored the ring-like mounds that wrap around some of the pools found at the poles of Saturn's largest moon, Titan. The study reveals more about how these features formed.

How fast is the Universe expanding? Cosmologists just got more confused

18 July 2019 - 9:24am

Nature, Published online: 16 July 2019; doi:10.1038/d41586-019-02198-z

Hotly anticipated technique fails to resolve disagreement over how fast cosmos is expanding — for now.

Spektr-RG: Powerful X-ray telescope launches to map cosmos

15 July 2019 - 9:19am

One of the most important Russian space science missions in the post-Soviet era lifts off from Baikonur.

Hubble discovers mysterious black hole disc [heic1913]

12 July 2019 - 9:28am

Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have observed an unexpected thin disc of material encircling a supermassive black hole at the heart of the spiral galaxy NGC 3147, located 130 million light-years away.

The explosive birth of a celestial ‘Cow’

12 July 2019 - 9:28am

Nature, Published online: 11 July 2019; doi:10.1038/d41586-019-02125-2

Evidence points to a supernova as the source of a dazzling object that telescopes spotted in 2018.

Controversial mega-telescope set to begin construction in Hawaii

12 July 2019 - 9:27am

Nature, Published online: 11 July 2019; doi:10.1038/d41586-019-02155-w

The Thirty Meter Telescope project has faced years of legal challenges over planned Mauna Kea site.

Daily briefing: ‘Ploonets’ are moons that escape their planets and start to orbit their stars

11 July 2019 - 10:43am

Nature, Published online: 10 July 2019; doi:10.1038/d41586-019-02138-x

Ploonets could explain some of the mysteries already observed in exoplanet systems, the Apollo Moon landing was nearly a joint US–Soviet mission and legal action to fight climate change is on the rise.

Low retention of impact material by the Moon

11 July 2019 - 10:43am

Nature, Published online: 10 July 2019; doi:10.1038/d41586-019-02066-w

Simulations demonstrate that the Moon’s ability to retain material from striking impactors is lower than was previously assumed. This finding helps to explain the scarcity of precious metals in the Moon relative to Earth.

Japanese spacecraft probes asteroid’s guts for first time

11 July 2019 - 10:42am

Nature, Published online: 10 July 2019; doi:10.1038/d41586-019-02136-z

Hayabusa2 touched down on Ryugu to collect material from beneath the surface.

Reconstructing the late-accretion history of the Moon

11 July 2019 - 10:42am

Nature, Published online: 10 July 2019; doi:10.1038/s41586-019-1359-0

Lunar impact simulations find an impactor-retention ratio three times lower than previously thought and indicate that highly siderophile element retention began 4.35 billion years ago, resolving accretion mass discrepancies between Earth and the Moon.

NASA to fly drone on Titan

5 July 2019 - 9:34am

NASA changes how it divvies up telescope time to reduce gender bias

4 July 2019 - 9:12am

Nature, Published online: 03 July 2019; doi:10.1038/d41586-019-02064-y

The switch to double-blind peer review will affect roughly 650 scientists working on projects worth an estimated US$55 million.

Hubble Captures the Galaxy's Biggest Ongoing Stellar Fireworks Show

4 July 2019 - 9:12am

Imagine slow-motion fireworks that started exploding 170 years ago and are still continuing. This type of firework is not launched into Earth's atmosphere, but rather into space by a doomed super-massive star, called Eta Carinae, the largest member of a double-star system.

News Article Type: Homepage ArticlesPublished: Wednesday, July 3, 2019 - 10:13

Hubble captures cosmic fireworks in ultraviolet [heic1912]

3 July 2019 - 9:21am

Hubble offers a special view of the double star system Eta Carinae's expanding gases glowing in red, white, and blue. This is the highest resolution image of Eta Carinae taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.