Institute of Astronomy

Astronomy News

A planet the colour of charcoal

13 July 2018 - 9:55am

A planet the colour of charcoal

A planet the colour of charcoal, Published online: 12 July 2018; doi:10.1038/d41586-018-05690-0

Giant world traces a speedy orbit around its star.

Colourful Celestial Landscape

12 July 2018 - 9:07am
New observations with ESO’s Very Large Telescope show the star cluster RCW 38 in all its glory. This image was taken during testing of the HAWK-I camera with the GRAAL adaptive optics system. It shows RCW 38 and its surrounding clouds of brightly glowing gas in exquisite detail, with dark tendrils of dust threading through the bright core of this young gathering of stars.

Hunt for dark matter turns to ancient minerals

10 July 2018 - 11:33am

Hunt for dark matter turns to ancient minerals

Hunt for dark matter turns to ancient minerals, Published online: 09 July 2018; doi:10.1038/d41586-018-05660-6

Kilometres beneath Earth’s surface, some minerals could bear the scars of collisions with dark matter.

General relativity verified by a triple-star system

9 July 2018 - 9:29am

General relativity verified by a triple-star system

General relativity verified by a triple-star system, Published online: 04 July 2018; doi:10.1038/d41586-018-05549-4

Einstein’s theory of gravity — the general theory of relativity — is based on the principle that all objects accelerate identically in an external gravitational field. A triple-star system provides a stringent test of this principle.

The dark-energy deniers

9 July 2018 - 9:28am
The discovery that the universe is expanding with increasing speed may have bagged a Nobel prize, but some cosmologists are still not sure if dark energy is the explanation for it. Keith Cooper looks at the arguments for and against this mysterious phenomenon

Neutron-star merger reveals secrets

9 July 2018 - 9:28am
Two research teams have independently calculated a relationship between the mass and the radius of neutron stars using data from the GW170817 event – the first ever observation of gravitational waves produced by a neutron-star merger.

Early universe simulated in a cloud of atoms

9 July 2018 - 9:27am
The early universe has been mimicked in the lab using a ring-shaped Bose–Einstein condensate (BEC) of ultracold atoms.

The asteroid trillionaires

9 July 2018 - 9:27am
The race to the riches of asteroids is on, with several private companies vying for funding to become the first space miners. Andrew Glester digs into the issues involved in making money from asteroids

Gaia mission creates new star map

9 July 2018 - 9:26am
The European Space Agency (ESA) has released the latest star map of the Milky Way taken by its Gaia mission. After 22 months of charting the sky, the new data includes high-precision measurements of nearly 1.7 billion stars as well as measurements of asteroids within our solar system. Gaia was launched in December 2013 and started observations the following year.

Hawking's gift

9 July 2018 - 9:25am
The late Stephen Hawking is an icon of modern physics. As well as inspiring generations of scientists, his contributions have changed our understanding of the universe.

Brazil suspended from observatory

9 July 2018 - 9:25am
Astronomers in Brazil have voiced their disappointment after the European Southern Observatory (ESO) suspended the country’s membership following its failure to ratify an agreement struck in 2010.

TESS exoplanet probe blasts off

9 July 2018 - 9:25am
NASA has successfully launched a dedicated exoplanet probe that will aim to discover thousands of planets outside our solar system.

Europe picks exoplanet mission for launch in 2028

9 July 2018 - 9:24am
The European Space Agency (ESA) has announced it will launch the first probe dedicated to studying the chemistry of exoplanet atmospheres.

NASA delays James Webb Space Telescope

9 July 2018 - 9:24am
NASA has announced that it will delay the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) to May 2020.

Fetch rover! Robot to retrieve Mars rocks

6 July 2018 - 9:23am

UK engineers will design a robot in an audacious plan to bring home Mars rocks to study for signs of life.

2019 Total Solar Eclipse Event at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile

5 July 2018 - 9:15am
On 2 July 2019 one of nature’s most impressive phenomena will be visible from ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile — a total solar eclipse. As these are very rare — the next one visible from La Silla will occur in 212 years — ESO is organising a campaign of observing and outreach activities on site, allowing the general public to experience this spectacular event. Tickets to participate will be available from 13:00 CEST/07:00 CLT on Friday 13 July 2018.

Universality of free fall from the orbital motion of a pulsar in a stellar triple system

5 July 2018 - 9:14am

Universality of free fall from the orbital motion of a pulsar in a stellar triple system

Universality of free fall from the orbital motion of a pulsar in a stellar triple system, Published online: 04 July 2018; doi:10.1038/s41586-018-0265-1

The accelerations of a pulsar and a white dwarf in a three-star system differ by at most a few parts per million, providing a much improved constraint on the universality of free fall.

Exomoons: On the hunt for distant worlds

4 July 2018 - 9:25am

Distant moons may be the most plentiful habitats in the galaxy

Newborn planet pictured for first time

3 July 2018 - 9:27am

Astronomers have directly imaged a recently formed planet in a distant solar system.

First Confirmed Image of Newborn Planet Caught with ESO’s VLT

3 July 2018 - 9:25am
SPHERE, a planet-hunting instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope, has captured the first confirmed image of a planet caught in the act of forming in the dusty disc surrounding a young star. The young planet is carving a path through the primordial disc of gas and dust around the very young star PDS 70. The data suggest that the planet’s atmosphere is cloudy.