Institute of Astronomy

News and Press Releases

Astronomers detect gas released in a giant planetary collision

Published on 20/10/2021 

An international team of astronomers from MIT, the National University of Ireland at Galway, University of Cambridge, and elsewhere have discovered evidence of a giant impact that occurred in a nearby star system, just 95 light years from Earth. The study represents the first detection of a planetary atmosphere that was vaporised by a giant impact.

New class of habitable exoplanets represent a big step forward in the search for life

Published on 26/08/2021 

A new class of exoplanet very different to our own, but which could support life, has been identified by astronomers, which could greatly accelerate the search for life outside our Solar System.

Unique exoplanet photobombs Cheops study of nearby star system

Published on 30/06/2021 

While exploring two exoplanets in a bright nearby star system, ESA’s exoplanet-hunting Cheops satellite has unexpectedly spotted the system’s third known planet crossing the face of the star. This transit reveals exciting details about a rare planet “with no known equivalent”, say the researchers.
 

Cosmic dawn occurred 250 to 350 million years after Big Bang

Published on 25/06/2021 

Cosmic dawn, when stars formed for the first time, occurred 250 million to 350 million years after the beginning of the universe, according to a new study led by researchers at University of Cambridge and UCL.

The study, published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, suggests that the NASA James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), scheduled to launch in November, will be sensitive enough to observe the birth of galaxies directly.

Astronomers spot a ‘blinking giant’ near the centre of the Galaxy

Published on 11/06/2021 

An international team of astronomers observed the star, VVV-WIT-08, decreasing in brightness by a factor of 30, so that it nearly disappeared from the sky. While many stars change in brightness because they pulsate or are eclipsed by another star in a binary system, it’s exceptionally rare for a star to become fainter over a period of several months and then brighten again.