Institute of Astronomy

Press Releases

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.

 

Large exoplanet could have the right conditions for life

Published on 27/02/2020 

Astronomers have found an exoplanet more than twice the size of Earth to be potentially habitable, opening the search for life to planets significantly larger than Earth but smaller than Neptune.

 

XMM-Newton maps black hole surroundings

Published on 21/01/2020 

 XMM-Newton maps black hole surroundings

 Material falling into a black hole casts X-rays out into space – and now, for the first
 time, ESA’s XMM-Newton X-ray observatory has used the reverberating echoes of
 this radiation to map the dynamic behaviour and surroundings of a black hole itself.

Water common – yet scarce – in exoplanets

Published on 11/12/2019 

Water common – yet scarce – in exoplanets

 

The most extensive survey of atmospheric chemical compositions of exoplanets to date has revealed trends that challenge current theories of planet formation and has implications for the search for water in the solar system and beyond.

 

Stormy cluster weather could unleash black hole power and explain lack of cosmic cooling

Published on 16/10/2019 

Stormy cluster weather could unleash black hole power and explain lack of cosmic cooling

“Weather” in clusters of galaxies may explain a longstanding puzzle, according to a team of researchers at the University of Cambridge. The scientists used sophisticated simulations to show how powerful jets from supermassive black holes are disrupted by the motion of hot gas and galaxies, preventing gas from cooling, which could otherwise form stars. The team publish their work in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

New ‘fuzzy’ dark matter research disrupts conventional thinking

Published on 07/10/2019 

New ‘fuzzy’ dark matter research disrupts conventional thinking

IoA astronomer Dr Anastasia Fialkov has simulated dark matter in a new way for the first time, disrupting conventional thinking about the make-up of the universe. The research, published in Physical Review Letters, was done alongside institutions including Sussex, Princeton, Harvard, and MIT.

Variations in the ‘fogginess’ of the universe identify a milestone in cosmic history

Published on 15/04/2019 

Large differences in the ‘fogginess’ of the early universe were caused by islands of cold gas left behind when the universe heated up after the big bang, according to an international team of astronomers.