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Institute of Astronomy

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Drawing a line back to the origin of life: Graphitization could provide simplicity scientists are looking for

Thu, 25/04/2024 - 11:57

Scientists from the Cambridge University have suggested that molecules vital to the development of life could have formed from a process known as graphitisation. Once verified in the laboratory, the finding could allow scientists to recreate plausible conditions for life's emergence. It has long been debated how the...

Groundbreaking survey reveals secrets of planet birth around dozens of stars

Tue, 23/04/2024 - 12:28

In a series of studies, a team of astronomers (including IoA postdoc Álvaro Ribas) has shed new light on the fascinating and complex process of planet formation. The stunning images, captured using the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (ESO’s VLT) in Chile, represent one of the largest ever surveys of...

Sleeping giant surprises Gaia scientists

Tue, 16/04/2024 - 11:14

Wading through the wealth of data from ESA’s Gaia mission , scientists have uncovered a ‘sleeping giant’. A large black hole, with a mass of nearly 33 times the mass of the Sun, was hiding in the constellation Aquila, less than 2000 light-years from Earth. This is the first time a black hole of stellar origin this big has...

First ‘glory’ on hellish distant world?

Fri, 05/04/2024 - 09:21

In brief For the first time, a team of astronomers (including IoA astronomer Nic Walton) have spotted potential signs of a rainbow-like ‘glory effect’ on a planet outside our Solar System. Glory are colourful concentric rings of light that occur only under peculiar conditions. Data from ESA’s sensitive Characterising...

Neon sign identified by JWST gives clue to planet formation

Tue, 05/03/2024 - 15:31

The winds that help to form planets in the gaseous discs of early solar systems have been imaged for the first time by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) using the noble gases neon and argon. Planetary systems like our Solar System seem to contain more rocky objects than gas-rich ones. Around our sun, these include the...

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust: the cosmic fertiliser that fuelled the origins of life

Tue, 20/02/2024 - 13:08

The origin of life is an event so rare that, to the best of our knowledge, it has only happened once: here on Earth. The questions of how life developed and in what environments geochemical reactions took place are fundamental questions that span the fields of astrobiology, organic chemistry, and geology. One key...

Insights into Dark Matter's 'Coldness' Open New Cosmic Frontiers

Thu, 15/02/2024 - 14:55

cdm_2_copy.jpg In their latest research on dark matter scientists have collected vital clues about the ‘coldness’ of the mysterious component making up 80% of all matter, revealing a deep connection between dark matter and the formation of galaxies in the early Universe. With the help of powerful telescopes, the...

Douglas Gough awarded The Crafoord Prize in Astronomy

Wed, 31/01/2024 - 18:14

The Crafoord Prize in Astronomy The Crafoord Prize in Astronomy 2024 is awarded to Douglas Gough , University of Cambridge, UK, Jørgen Christensen-Dalsgaard , Aarhus University, Denmark, and Conny Aerts , KU Leuven, Belgium “for developing the methods of asteroseismology and their application to the study of the interior...

ESA gives go-ahead for flagship gravitational-wave observatory in space

Thu, 25/01/2024 - 13:16

germl2rwwaa-rym.jpeg Following today´s Adoption, the LISA mission advances to the construction phase LISA, the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, has passed a major review with flying colours: the entire concept - from the definition of the overall mission and operations to the space hardware to be built - stood up to the...

International team awarded $3.7M to build a next generation haloscope to search for the axion

Fri, 19/01/2024 - 11:26

hp_dec_23_art.jpeg Physics breakthroughs don’t always require city-sized particle colliders or giant radio telescope arrays. The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation , the Simons Foundation , the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the John Templeton Foundation have partnered to fund 11 innovative “tabletop” experiments, many of...

Webb reveals that galaxy mergers are the solution to early Universe mystery

Thu, 18/01/2024 - 14:12

weic2402a-2.jpg One of the key missions of the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope is to probe the early Universe. Now, the unmatched resolution and sensitivity of Webb’s NIRCam instrument have revealed, for the first time, what lies in the local environment of galaxies in the very early Universe. This has solved one...

Bouncing comets could deliver building blocks for life to exoplanets

Thu, 16/11/2023 - 13:57

How did the molecular building blocks for life end up on Earth? One long-standing theory is that they could have been delivered by comets. Now, researchers from the IoA have shown how comets could deposit similar building blocks to other planets in the galaxy. In order to deliver organic material, comets need to be...