Institute of Astronomy

Astronomy News

This photo of the Sun is the closest ever taken

17 July 2020 - 9:12am

Nature, Published online: 16 July 2020; doi:10.1038/d41586-020-02136-4

Close-up reveals a surface dancing with ‘campfires’.

ESA/NASA's Solar Orbiter Returns First Data, Snaps Closest Pictures of the Sun

17 July 2020 - 9:10am
Portal origin URL: ESA/NASA's Solar Orbiter Returns First Data, Snaps Closest Pictures of the SunPortal origin nid: 462804Published: Thursday, July 16, 2020 - 08:15Featured (stick to top of list): noPortal text teaser: The first images from the Solar Orbiter spacecraft are now available to the public, including the closest pictures ever taken of the Sun.Portal image: Images of the Sun captured by the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager instrument.

NASA Announces New James Webb Space Telescope Target Launch Date

17 July 2020 - 9:08am
Portal origin URL: NASA Announces New James Webb Space Telescope Target Launch DatePortal origin nid: 462828Published: Thursday, July 16, 2020 - 13:17Featured (stick to top of list): noPortal text teaser: NASA now is targeting Oct. 31, 2021, for the launch of the agency’s James Webb Space Telescope from French Guiana, due to impacts from the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, as well as technical challenges.Portal image: NASA's James Webb Space Telescope in the clean room at Northrop Grumman, Redondo Beach, California, in July 2020

Closest ever images of sun reveal it is covered in miniature flares

17 July 2020 - 9:03am

Solar Orbiter images shot from between Venus and Mercury orbits show ‘campfires’ in corona

The closest ever images of the sun reveal its surface is speckled with “campfires”, miniature versions of the dramatic solar flares visible from Earth.

The observations, beamed back from the Solar Orbiter spacecraft, which is a joint Nasa and European Space Agency (ESA) mission, could help resolve why the sun’s atmosphere is so staggeringly hot compared to the surface – a central paradox in solar physics. Miniature flares have been proposed as a theoretical explanation for the so-called coronal heating problem, but until now no telescope has had a good enough resolution to observe the sun’s atmosphere in sufficient detail.

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Mystery over Universe’s expansion deepens with fresh data

16 July 2020 - 9:35am

Nature, Published online: 15 July 2020; doi:10.1038/d41586-020-02126-6

A long-awaited map of the Big Bang’s afterglow fails to settle a debate over how fast the Universe is expanding.

Comet NEOWISE Seen in an Aurora-Filled Sky

16 July 2020 - 9:34am
Portal origin URL: Comet NEOWISE Seen in an Aurora-Filled SkyPortal origin nid: 462798Published: Wednesday, July 15, 2020 - 15:00Featured (stick to top of list): noPortal text teaser: Comet NEOWISE is visible in an aurora-filled sky in this photo taken on July 14, 2020, by Aurorasaurus Ambassador Donna Lach.Portal image: Comet NEOWISE appears in a sky streaked with purple and green aurora

Cosmic expansion tribes entrench positions

16 July 2020 - 9:28am

A telescope high in the Atacama Desert in Chile enters the debate about the age of the Universe.

Nuclear blast sends star hurtling across galaxy

15 July 2020 - 10:04am

A star has been sent hurtling across the galaxy after undergoing a partial supernova.

NASA, ESA to Release First Images from Solar Orbiter Mission

15 July 2020 - 9:19am
Portal origin URL: NASA, ESA to Release First Images from Solar Orbiter MissionPortal origin nid: 462710Published: Monday, July 13, 2020 - 11:51Featured (stick to top of list): noPortal text teaser: Scientists from NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) will release the first data captured by Solar Orbiter, the joint ESA/NASA mission to study the Sun, during an online news briefing at 8 a.m. EDT Thursday, July 16.Portal image: ESA/NASA's Solar Orbiter is returning its first science data, including images of the Sun taken from closer than any spacecraft

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Completes Comprehensive Systems Test

15 July 2020 - 9:17am
Portal origin URL: NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Completes Comprehensive Systems TestPortal origin nid: 462706Published: Monday, July 13, 2020 - 09:30Featured (stick to top of list): noPortal text teaser: Now that NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has been assembled into its final form, testing teams seized the unique opportunity to perform a critical software and electrical analysis on the entire observatory as a single, fully connected vehicle.Portal image: JWST shown with its primary mirror fully deployed

‘Disk Detective’ Needs Your Help Finding Disks Where Planets Form

15 July 2020 - 9:16am
Eyebrow: Citizen Science NewsBody: 

Planets form from gas and dust particles swirling around baby stars in enormous spinning disks. But because this process takes millions of years, scientists can only learn about these disks by finding and studying a lot of different examples. Through a project called Disk Detective, you can help.

Link: Learn More

A Decade of Sun

15 July 2020 - 9:16am

As of June 2020, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory — SDO — has now been watching the Sun non-stop for over a full decade. From its orbit in space around the Earth, SDO has gathered 425 million high-resolution images of the Sun, amassing 20 million gigabytes of data over the past 10 years. This information has enabled countless new discoveries about the workings of our closest star and how it influences the solar system.

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NASA, ESA to Release First Images from Solar Orbiter Mission

14 July 2020 - 8:55am

Scientists from NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) will release the first data captured by Solar Orbiter, the joint ESA/NASA mission to study the Sun, during an online news briefing at 8 a.m. EDT Thursday, July 16.

Coronavirus: Escaping to space in lockdown

13 July 2020 - 11:22am

For those who have felt trapped by lockdown measures, the night sky could offer an escape.

NASA Awards SETI Institute Contract for Planetary Protection Support

11 July 2020 - 9:49am

NASA has awarded the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, a contract to support all phases of current and future planetary protection missions to ensure compliance with planetary protection standards.

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe Spies Newly-Discovered Comet NEOWISE

11 July 2020 - 9:48am
Portal origin URL: NASA’s Parker Solar Probe Spies Newly-Discovered Comet NEOWISEPortal origin nid: 462648Published: Friday, July 10, 2020 - 10:00Featured (stick to top of list): noPortal text teaser: NASA’s Parker Solar Probe was at the right place at the right time to capture a unique view of comet NEOWISE on July 5, 2020.Portal image: Comet NEOWISE appears against a background of stars with dual tails visible

Two Bizarre Brown Dwarfs Found With Citizen Scientists’ Help

11 July 2020 - 9:46am
Eyebrow: Citizen Science NewsBody: 

With the help of citizen scientists, astronomers have discovered two highly unusual brown dwarfs, balls of gas that are not massive enough to power themselves the way stars do.

Link: Read More

The many roads to the red planet — a memoir

10 July 2020 - 9:11am

Nature, Published online: 09 July 2020; doi:10.1038/d41586-020-02071-4

As three nations prepare to send spacecraft to Mars, a planetary scientist offers her personal tour of those who led the way. By Alexandra Witze

Countdown to Mars: three daring missions take aim at the red planet

8 July 2020 - 9:19am

Nature, Published online: 07 July 2020; doi:10.1038/d41586-020-01861-0

The United States, China and the United Arab Emirates will soon launch missions to a notoriously dangerous destination for spacecraft.

Astronomers unveil epic X-ray map of the Universe

8 July 2020 - 9:18am

Nature, Published online: 08 July 2020; doi:10.1038/d41586-020-02005-0

The latest science news, in brief.