Institute of Astronomy

Press Releases

UK-led robotic sky scanner reveals its first galactic fingerprint

Published on 13/12/2022 

A major telescope upgrade has peered through to the distant Universe to reveal the spectra of a pair of galaxies 280 million light years away from Earth.

The spectra provide a first glimpse of the sky from the WHT Enhanced Area Velocity Explorer (WEAVE) – a unique upgrade to the William Herschel Telescope (WHT) in La Palma on the Canary Islands.

Non-detection of key signal allows astronomers to determine what the first galaxies were – and weren’t – like

Published on 05/12/2022 

Researchers have been able to make some key determinations about the first galaxies to exist, in one of the first astrophysical studies of the period in the early Universe when the first stars and galaxies formed, known as the cosmic dawn.

 

Using data from India’s SARAS3 radio telescope, researchers led by the University of Cambridge were able to look at the very early Universe – just 200 million years after the Big Bang – and place limits on the mass and energy output of the first stars and galaxies. 

 

Study of ‘polluted’ white dwarfs finds that stars and planets grow together

Published on 23/11/2022 

 

A team of astronomers have found that planet formation in our young Solar System started much earlier than previously thought, with the building blocks of planets growing at the same time as their parent star.

Gaia Collaboration to Receive 2023 Berkeley Prize

Published on 09/11/2022 

The Gaia collaboration, which is responsible for the spacecraft that is currently building the largest and most precise three-dimensional map of our galaxy, will receive the 2023 Lancelot M. Berkeley − New York Community Trust Prize for Meritorious Work in Astronomy.

CHANDRA SHOWS GIANT BLACK HOLE SPINS SLOWER THAN ITS PEERS

Published on 30/06/2022 

Astronomers have made a record-breaking measurement of a black hole’s spin, one of two fundamental properties of black holes. NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory shows this black hole is spinning slower than most of its smaller cousins.  

Fifth Gaia-ESO Data Release: the Catalogue with the Astrophysical Parameters for ~115,000 Stars

Published on 24/05/2022 

ESO has now released the very major results from the Gaia-ESO survey. This 10+-year effort has been co-led by Cambridge (Gerry Gilmore) and Arcetri (Sofia Randich), with substantial support from a dedicated IoA team and CASU. The Cambridge Project Office included Clare Worley, Anna Hourihane and Anais Gonneau, with additional support in IoA over the years from Jim Lewis, Sergey Kosopov, Mike Irwin, Eduardo Gonzalez Solares, Maria Bergemann, Andy Casey, Keith Hawkins, Karin Lind, Paula Jofre, Thomas Masseron, George Kordopatis, and David Murphy.

Professor Nikku Madhusudhan awarded ERC Consolidator Grant

Published on 24/03/2022 

 

Professor Nikku Madhusudhan, Professor of Astrophysics and Exoplanetary Science at the Institute of Astronomy, has been awarded a prestigious Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council.

Planetary bodies observed in habitable zone of dead star

Published on 14/02/2022 

A ring of planetary debris studded with moon-sized structures has been observed orbiting close to a white dwarf star, hinting at a nearby planet in the “habitable zone” where water and thus life could exist, according to a new study.

White dwarfs are glowing embers of stars that have burned through all their hydrogen fuel. Nearly all stars, including the Sun, will eventually become white dwarfs, but very little is known about their planetary systems.

Cambridge launches new Leverhulme Centre for Life in the Universe

Published on 18/01/2022 

With a £10 million grant awarded by the Leverhulme Trust, the University of Cambridge is to establish a new research centre dedicated to exploring the nature and extent of life in the Universe.

 

The 2022 Royal Astronomical Society Gold Medal in Astronomy is awarded to Professor George Efstathiou.

Published on 14/01/2022 

The 2022 RAS Gold Medal in Astronomy is awarded to Professor George Efstathiou.