Institute of Astronomy

News and Press Releases

Dr Kaisey Mandel awarded ERC Consolidator Grant

Published on 10/12/2020 

Dr Kaisey Mandel, the interdisciplinary University Lecturer on Astrostatistics at the Institute of Astronomy, KICC, and the Statistical Laboratory of the Department of Pure Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics, has been awarded a prestigious Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council.

Fast-moving gas flowing away from young star's asteroid belt may be caused by icy comet vaporisation

Published on 30/11/2020 

A unique stage of planetary system evolution has been imaged by astronomers, showing fast-moving carbon monoxide gas flowing away from a star system over 400 light years away, a discovery that provides an opportunity to study how our own solar system developed.

The Gaia Early Data Release 3

Published on 26/11/2020 

First joint measurement of exoplanet’s mass and brightness challenges classical model of planet formation

Published on 01/10/2020 

A team of astronomers led by led by Cambridge astronomer Mathias Nowak have used the ESO instrument GRAVITY to take the first image of an exoplanet that had previously only been detected indirectly via the spectrum of its star. The result is the first set of measurements that allows astronomers to both determine an exoplanet’s intrinsic brightness and estimate its mass. For the planet, beta Pictoris c, the outcome is surprising: Even though it may have a similar mass as its sister planet beta Pictoris b, its brightness is lower by a factor 6.

Possible Marker of Life Spotted on Venus

Published on 14/09/2020 

An international team of astronomers today announced the discovery of a rare molecule — phosphine — in the clouds of Venus. On Earth, this gas is only made industrially or by microbes that thrive in oxygen-free environments. Astronomers have speculated for decades that high clouds on Venus could offer a home for microbes — floating free of the scorching surface but needing to tolerate very high acidity. The detection of phosphine could point to such extra-terrestrial “aerial” life.