Institute of Astronomy

Press Releases

Roberto Maiolino awarded the Royal Society Research Professorship

Published on 15/01/2021 

Professor Roberto Maiolino, Director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmology, Cambridge, has been awarded the prestigious Royal Society Research Professorship. This is the Royal Society's premier research award and "provides long term support to world-class researchers of outstanding achievement” and enables them "to focus on ambitious and original research of the highest quality”.

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.

Astronomers find cosmic 'golden needle' buried for two decades; discovery sheds new light on famous Einstein ring

Published on 01/06/2020 

Determined to find a needle in a cosmic haystack, a pair of astronomers (including Dominic Walton, an STFC Ernest Rutherford Fellow here at the Institute of Astronomy) time traveled through archives of old data from W. M. Keck Observatory on Mauankea in Hawaii and old X-ray data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory to unlock a mystery surrounding a bright, lensed, heavily obscured quasar.

The Kavli Prize in Astrophysics awarded to Andrew Fabian

Published on 27/05/2020 

The 2020 Kavli Prize in Astrophysics is awarded to astronomer and astrophysicist Andrew Fabian for his pioneering research and persistence in pursuing the mystery of how black holes influence their surrounding galaxies on both large and small scales.

New data tests 'theory of everything'

Published on 19/03/2020 

One of the biggest ideas in physics is the possibility that all known forces, particles, and interactions can be connected in one framework. String theory is arguably the best-known proposal for a 'theory of everything' that would tie together our understanding of the physical universe.

Prof. Martin J. Rees awarded Fritz Zwicky Prize for Astrophysics & Cosmology

Published on 06/03/2020 

The Inaugural Fritz Zwicky Prize for Astrophysics & Cosmology is awarded to Prof. Martin J. Rees (University of Cambridge, United Kingdom) for outstanding contributions to astrophysics and cosmology including seminal papers on active galaxies and black holes, the origin of gamma-ray bursts, the large-scale structure of the Universe, and the cosmic microwave background. This exceptionally broad oeuvre has been both prescient and enormously influential.