11 Jul 2018, 10:00 UTC New observations with ESO’s Very Large Telescope show the star cluster RCW 38 in all its glory. This image was taken during testing of the HAWK-I camera with the GRAAL adaptive optics system. It shows RCW 38 and its surrounding clouds of brightly glowing gas in exquisite detail, with dark tendrils of dust threading through the bright core of this young gathering of stars. Next Previous
9 Jul 2018, 13:00 UTC Carnegie’s Eduardo Bañados led a team that found a quasar with the brightest radio emission ever observed in the early universe, due to it spewing out a jet of extremely fast-moving material. Bañados’ discovery was followed up by Emmanuel Momjian of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, which allowed the team to see with unprecedented detail the jet shooting out of a quasar that formed within the universe’s first billion years of existence. Next Previous
2 Jul 2018, 15:00 UTC Astronomers have found that the atmosphere of the hottest known exoplanet, the hot Jupiter-like planet KELT-9b, is "boiling off," with the escaping gas being captured by the host star. Using the CARMENES instrument at Calar Alto Observatory, Fei Yan and Thomas Henning of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg were able to detect the escaping hydrogen atmosphere of the planet. Their observations indicate a spread-out hydrogen envelope that is being pulled towards the host star. Next Previous
27 Jun 2018, 17:00 UTC `Oumuamua, the first interstellar object discovered in the Solar System, is moving away from the Sun faster than expected. This anomalous behaviour was detected by a worldwide astronomical collaboration including ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile. The new results suggest that `Oumuamua is most likely an interstellar comet and not an asteroid. The discovery appears in the journal Nature. Next Previous
21 Jun 2018, 18:00 UTC Astronomers using the MUSE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile, and the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, have made the most precise test yet of Einstein’s general theory of relativity outside the Milky Way. The nearby galaxy ESO 325-G004 acts as a strong gravitational lens, distorting light from a distant galaxy behind it to create an Einstein ring around its centre. By comparing the mass of ESO 325-G004 with the curvature of space around it, the astronomers found that gravity on these astronomical length-scales behaves as predicted by general relativity. This rules out some alternative theories of gravity. Next Previous
21 Jun 2018, 15:00 UTC A new study using data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory indicates that black holes have squelched star formation in small, yet massive galaxies known as "red nuggets", as reported in our latest press release. The results suggest some red nugget galaxies may have used some of the untapped stellar fuel to grow their central supermassive black holes to unusually massive proportions. Next Previous
14 Jun 2018, 18:49 UTC Astronomers, working on a project to detect supernovas, made a surprise discovery when they found that one supernova explosion was actually a star being pulled apart by a supermassive black hole. ASTRON's Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope was involved in the observations. Next Previous
13 Jun 2018, 14:00 UTC Two independent teams of astronomers have used ALMA to uncover convincing evidence that three young planets are in orbit around the infant star HD 163296. Using a novel planet-finding technique, the astronomers identified three disturbances in the gas-filled disc around the young star: the strongest evidence yet that newly formed planets are in orbit there. These are considered the first planets to be discovered with ALMA. Next Previous
7 Jun 2018, 16:54 UTC NASA’s Curiosity rover has found new evidence preserved in rocks on Mars that suggests the planet could have supported ancient life, as well as new evidence in the Martian atmosphere that relates to the search for current life on the Red Planet. While not necessarily evidence of life itself, these findings are a good sign for future missions exploring the planet’s surface and subsurface. The new findings – “tough” organic molecules in three-billion-year-old sedimentary rocks near the surface, as well as seasonal variations in the levels of methane in the atmosphere. Next Previous
6 Jun 2018, 17:14 UTC Ever since NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft flew past Jupiter in March, 1979, scientists have wondered about the origin of Jupiter's lightning. That encounter confirmed the existence of Jovian lightning, which had been theorized for centuries. But when the venerable explorer hurtled by, the data showed that the lightning-associated radio signals didn't match the details of the radio signals produced by lightning here at Earth. Next Previous
ESA Top News 17 Jul 2018, 13:00 UTC It was 21 March 2013. The world’s scientific press had either gathered in ESA’s Paris headquarters or logged in online, along with a multitude of scientists around the globe, to witness the moment when ESA’s Planck mission revealed its ‘image’ of the cosmos. This image was taken not with visible light but with microwaves.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory News and Features 16 Jul 2018, 17:22 UTC As NASA's Dawn spacecraft prepares to wrap up its groundbreaking 11-year mission, which has included two successful extended missions at Ceres, it will continue to explore -- collecting images and other data.
ESA Top News 16 Jul 2018, 10:25 UTC At first glance this frame is flooded with salt-and-pepper static – but don’t adjust your set! Rather than being tiny grains or pixels of TV noise, every single point of light in this image is actually a distant galaxy as observed by ESA’s Herschel Space Observatory. Each of these minute marks represents the ‘heat’ emanating from dust grains lying between the stars of each galaxy. This radiation has taken many billions of years to reach us, and in most cases was emitted well before the Solar System and the Earth had even formed.
MIT 13 Jul 2018, 15:30 UTC For the first time, scientists from around the world have detected a source of high-energy cosmic neutrinos — subatomic particles, produced in the aftermath of explosive astrophysical phenomena, that streak across the universe by the billions, leaving very little trace of their presence.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center 13 Jul 2018, 14:35 UTC An irregular galaxy called UGC 12682 glows warmly against the dark backdrop of the universe in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Located approximately 70 million light-years away in the constellation of Pegasus (the Winged Horse), UGC 12682 is distorted and oddly structured, with bright pockets of star formation.
Square Kilometer Array 13 Jul 2018, 08:06 UTC South Africa, 13 July 2018 – South Africa’s 64-dish MeerKAT telescope was officially inaugurated by Deputy President David Mabuza at a ceremony near Carnarvon today. Built and operated by the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO), and a decade in design and construction, the MeerKAT facility has already begun science operations. A stunning new panorama obtained by the telescope was unveiled during the event, revealing extraordinary detail in the region surrounding the supermassive black hole at the centre of our Milky Way Galaxy.
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Centauri Dreams 17 Jul 2018, 17:16 UTC A cluster of stars sharing a common origin, now gravitationally unbound, is referred to as a stellar association. I’ve written before about how useful some of these groupings can be. In the form of so-called moving groups — a stellar association that is still somewhat coherent — they help us identify stars of similar age, an aid as we discover new objects. Now we have word of an object called 2MASS 0249 c, found in the Beta Pictoris moving group, that has striking similarities to the most famous member of that group, Beta Pictoris b.
The Guardian 17 Jul 2018, 14:01 UTC One of a dozen new moons discovered around Jupiter is circling the planet on a suicide orbit that will inevitably lead to its violent destruction, astronomers say. Researchers in the US stumbled upon the new moons while hunting for a mysterious ninth planet that is postulated to lurk far beyond the orbit of Neptune, the most distant planet in the solar system.
Astro Bob 16 Jul 2018, 20:50 UTC Last night, we had a chance to see one of the finest conjunctions of the year. The moon and Venus looked incredible together. I happened to catch sight of the crescent just before sundown with Venus already bright and obvious 1½° to its left. Nearby, cirrus clouds caught the last solar rays and glowed with intense scarlet and coral hues. 10 minutes later the colors had drained away, leaving the duo entangled in gray wisps.
Centauri Dreams 16 Jul 2018, 16:42 UTC We learned late last week that the near-Earth asteroid 2017 YE5, discovered just last December, is what is described as an ‘equal mass’ binary. This would make it the fourth near-Earth asteroid binary ever detected in which the two objects are nearly identical in size, both about 900 meters. The binary’s closest approach to Earth was on June 21, 2017, when it came to within 6 million kilometers, some 16 times the distance between the Earth and the Moon. It won’t be that close again for at least another 170 years.
Starts With a Bang! 16 Jul 2018, 14:01 UTC With some 400 billion stars burning steadily, the Milky Way is just a typical galaxy in the Universe.