Institute of Astronomy

Press Releases

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.

Double star system flips planet-forming disk into pole position

Published on 15/01/2019 

New research involving IoA researchers has found the first confirmed example of a double star system that has flipped its surrounding disc to a position that leaps over the orbital plane of those stars. The international team of astronomers used the Atacama Large Millimeter/sub-millimeter Array (ALMA) to obtain high-resolution images of the Asteroid belt-sized disc.
 

Dark Energy Survey completes six-year mission

Published on 08/01/2019 

After scanning in depth about a quarter of the southern skies for six years and cataloguing hundreds of millions of distant galaxies, the Dark Energy Survey (DES) will finish taking data on January 9 2019.

Giant planets around young star raise questions about how planets form

Published on 22/10/2018 

 

Researchers have identified a young star with four Jupiter and Saturn-sized planets in orbit around it, the first time that so many massive planets have been detected in such a young system. 

The system has also set a new record for the most extreme range of orbits yet observed: the outermost planet is more than a thousand times further from the star than the innermost one, which raises interesting questions about how such a system might have formed. 

Gaia reveals major galaxy collision that changed the Milky Way

Published on 20/08/2018 

An international team of astronomers has discovered an ancient and dramatic head-on collision between the Milky Way and a smaller object, dubbed ‘the Sausage Galaxy’. The cosmic crash was a defining event in the early history of the Milky Way and reshaped the structure of our Galaxy, fashioning both the Galaxy’s inner bulge and its outer halo, as reported in a series of new papers.

Gaia mission releases 3D census of over 1 billion stars

Published on 24/04/2018 

The European Space Agency's Gaia mission has released its second batch of data. This release includes information on 1.7 billion objects (including stars, galaxies, quasars, and asteroids). This dataset covers a volume of space 1000 times greater than the previous Gaia release, with a hundredfold improvement in precision. This data will benefit almost all branches of astronomy, shedding light on the formation of our Solar System, the evolution of stars, the history of the Milky Way, the distribution of dark matter, and the calibration the Universe's distance scale.