Institute of Astronomy

Astronomy News

Splosh! How the dinosaur-killing asteroid made its crater

26 October 2018 - 8:40am

When the dinosaur-killing asteroid struck Earth, it made billions of tonnes of rock move like a fluid.

The ghost of Cassiopeia [1818]

26 October 2018 - 8:37am

About 550 light-years away in the constellation of Cassiopeia lies IC 63, a stunning and slightly eerie nebula. Also known as the ghost of Cassiopeia, IC 63 is being shaped by radiation from a nearby unpredictably variable star, Gamma Cassiopeiae, which is slowly eroding away the ghostly cloud of dust and gas. This celestial ghost makes the perfect backdrop for the upcoming feast of All Hallow's Eve – better known as Halloween.

Mars Express keeps an eye on curious cloud

26 October 2018 - 8:36am

Since 13 September, ESA's Mars Express has been observing the evolution of an elongated cloud formation hovering in the vicinity of the 20 km-high Arsia Mons volcano, close to the planet's equator.

NASA to Host Briefing on November Mars InSight Landing

26 October 2018 - 8:35am
NASA's upcoming landing of the first-ever mission to study the heart of Mars will be the topic of a media briefing at 1:30 p.m. EDT Wednesday, Oct. 31 at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Mars scientists edge closer to solving methane mystery

26 October 2018 - 8:34am

Mars scientists edge closer to solving methane mystery

Mars scientists edge closer to solving methane mystery, Published online: 25 October 2018; doi:10.1038/d41586-018-07177-4

The warming power of the Sun could help to explain why the level of gas in the atmosphere changes with the seasons.

NASA must fund major exoplanet mission top US scientists say

26 October 2018 - 8:34am
NASA should design and launch a space mission that can directly image rocky planets orbiting stars similar to the Sun.

Badge of authority

26 October 2018 - 8:34am
Still on the cosmos, Brownies in the UK can now take a new space badge thanks to a partnership between the Royal Astronomical Society, the UK Space Agency and Girlguiding UK.

NASA asteroid telescope set for southern hemisphere

26 October 2018 - 8:34am
NASA has announced that a next-generation asteroid-hunting telescope will be located in South Africa. The $3.8m telescope, part of the Asteroid Terrestrial-Impact Last Alert System (ATLAS), will be hosted by the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) in Sutherland.

Green light for South African radio telescope

26 October 2018 - 8:33am
South Africa has given the go-ahead for a radio telescope that will study dark energy, detect fast radio bursts and track neutral hydrogen gas on cosmic scales.

A wave of discovery

26 October 2018 - 8:33am
James Hough outlines the last 30 years of gravitational-wave astronomy, from building prototype detectors to making a revolutionary discovery

Jocelyn Bell Burnell donates $3m prize

26 October 2018 - 8:32am
Jocelyn Bell Burnell has been awarded a Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for her work on pulsars and her “inspiring scientific leadership over the last five decades”.

The Pirate of the Southern Skies

25 October 2018 - 8:47am
FORS2, an instrument mounted on ESO’s Very Large Telescope, has observed the active star-forming region NGC 2467 — sometimes referred to as the Skull and Crossbones Nebula. The image was captured as part of the ESO Cosmic Gems Programme, which makes use of the rare occasions when observing conditions are not suitable for gathering scientific data. Instead of sitting idle, the ESO Cosmic Gems Programme allows ESO’s telescopes to be used to capture visually stunning images of the southern skies.

Nasa 'fixes' Hubble malfunction

24 October 2018 - 8:12am

Nasa believes it has fixed a malfunction with the Hubble telescope which threatened to limit the orbiting observatory's performance.

Update on the Hubble safe mode

23 October 2018 - 8:09am

ESA PR 28-2018: BepiColombo blasts off to investigate Mercury's mysteries

22 October 2018 - 8:04am

The ESA-JAXA BepiColombo mission to Mercury blasted off on an Ariane 5 from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou at 01:45:28 GMT on 20 October on its exciting mission to study the mysteries of the Solar System's innermost planet.

Mercury: Why we need to learn more about it

19 October 2018 - 9:01am

BepiColombo: the latest space mission to explore Mercury is being launched and will help us learn more about Earth

Largest Galaxy Proto-Supercluster Found

18 October 2018 - 8:42am
An international team of astronomers using the VIMOS instrument of ESO’s Very Large Telescope have uncovered a titanic structure in the early Universe. This galaxy proto-supercluster — which they nickname Hyperion — was unveiled by new measurements and a complex examination of archive data. This is the largest and most massive structure yet found at such a remote time and distance — merely 2 billion years after the Big Bang.

A two per cent Hubble constant measurement from standard sirens within five years

18 October 2018 - 8:40am

A two per cent Hubble constant measurement from standard sirens within five years

A two per cent Hubble constant measurement from standard sirens within five years, Published online: 17 October 2018; doi:10.1038/s41586-018-0606-0

Gravitational-wave observations of binary neutron-star mergers will enable precision measurements of the Hubble constant within five years.

Solar flair: the Sun on show

18 October 2018 - 8:39am

Solar flair: the Sun on show

Solar flair: the Sun on show, Published online: 17 October 2018; doi:10.1038/d41586-018-07093-7

Elizabeth Gibney soaks up an exhibition blazing with hot science and cultural riches.

Twenty-five years of using microlensing to study dark matter

17 October 2018 - 8:31am

Twenty-five years of using microlensing to study dark matter

Twenty-five years of using microlensing to study dark matter, Published online: 16 October 2018; doi:10.1038/d41586-018-07006-8

In 1993, two papers reported observations of an astronomical phenomenon called gravitational microlensing. The results showed that microlensing could be used to probe the elusive dark matter that is thought to pervade the Universe.