Astrophysics News

Astronomers Observe Star Formation in the Outskirts of Galaxies

February 5, 2016

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Star Formation in the Outer Spiral Regions of Galaxy NGC 4625

A newly published study from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics finds that the star formation processes in the outer spiral regions of the galaxy NGC 4625 generally resemble the processes at work in more normal, denser regions where molecular gas abounds. Star formation environments can be roughly grouped into three types, categorized by the density […]

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Astronomers Discover Unexpectedly Cold Grains in a Planet-Forming Disc

February 4, 2016

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Unexpectedly Cold Grains in Planet-Forming Disc Discovered

Using the ALMA and IRAM telescopes, a team of astronomers has made the first direct measurement of the temperature of the large dust grains in the outer parts of a planet-forming disc around a young star. By applying a novel technique to observations of an object nicknamed the Flying Saucer they find that the grains […]

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Chandra Observations Confirm a Counterjet from Pictor A

February 2, 2016

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Pictor A Blast from Black Hole Far Away

Astronomers have discovered a giant jet spanning continuously for over 300,000 light years blasting out of the galaxy Pictor A. In addition to the main jet, they also discovered evidence for a jet moving in the opposite direction. The Star Wars franchise has featured the fictitious “Death Star,” which can shoot powerful beams of radiation […]

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Astronomers Gaze Deep Into the Heart of Active Galaxy BL Lacertae

January 28, 2016

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BL Lacertae the Hottest Hearth in Space

Astronomers observe microwave radiation from the vicinity of the black hole in the active galactic nucleus known as BL Lacertae, which is 900 million light years. A black hole lurks at the center of the active galaxy in a distance of 900 million light years, known as “BL Lacerta.” Microwave radiation is emitted from the […]

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Hubble Reveals Globular Clusters Gain Star-Making Fuel from Outside the Cluster Itself

January 28, 2016

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Study Suggests Globular Clusters Gain Star-Making Fuel from Outside the Cluster Itself

Using Hubble data, a team of astronomers has for the first time found young populations of stars within globular clusters that have apparently developed courtesy of star-forming gas flowing in from outside of the clusters themselves. Among the most striking objects in the universe are glittering, dense swarms of stars known as globular clusters. Astronomers […]

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Scientists Propose a New Method to Probe the Evolutionary History of the Universe

January 27, 2016

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Scientists Propose a New Method to Probe the Beginning of the Universe

New research from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics suggests that oscillating heavy particles generated “clocks” in the primordial universe that could be used to determine what produced the initial conditions that gave rise to the universe. How did the universe begin? And what came before the Big Bang? Cosmologists have asked these questions ever since […]

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Planet 2MASS J2126 is 1 Trillion Kilometers Away from Its Parent Star

January 26, 2016

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Astronomers Find a Lonely Planet and Its Distant Star

New research reveals that planet 2MASS J2126 and the star TYC 9486-927-1 are moving through space together, implying that they are associated. A team of astronomers in the UK, USA and Australia have found a planet, until now thought to be a free floating or lonely planet, in a huge orbit around its star. Incredibly […]

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Astronomers Use Galaxy Clusters to Reveal New Dark Matter Insights

January 26, 2016

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Hubble Space Telescope Shows the Inner Region of Abell 1689

New research from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory suggests that the internal structure of a galaxy cluster is linked to the dark matter environment surrounding it. This is the first time that a property besides the mass of a cluster has been shown to be associated with surrounding dark matter. Dark matter is a mysterious cosmic […]

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Astronomers Discover a Giant Exoplanet and Four New Companion Stars

January 22, 2016

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The Pan-Pacific Planet Search III Five Companions Orbiting Giant Stars

Using a new systematic radial velocity search for brown dwarf and stellar-mass companions to stars, astronomers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics have discovered one new giant exoplanet and four new companion stars. The search for exoplanets via the radial velocity technique has been underway for nearly 30 years. The method searches for wobbles in […]

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Planet Nine – Astronomers Find Evidence of a Real Ninth Planet in Our Solar System

January 21, 2016

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Astronomers Reveal Evidence of Distant Gas Giant Planet in Our Solar System

Scientists at the California Institute of Technology have discovered evidence of a giant planet tracing a bizarre, highly elongated orbit in the outer solar system. The newly discovered object, which the researchers have nicknamed Planet Nine, has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun on […]

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Harvard Astrophysicists Examine the Properties of Pre-Stellar Cores

January 18, 2016

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Far-Infrared Dust Temperatures and Column Densities of the MALT90 Molecular Clump Sample

A new infrared study from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics examined the cores of star-forming dust clouds in various stages of development, enabling astronomers to categorize the temperatures, densities, and evolutionary characters of young stellar nurseries. Stars like the Sun begin their lives as cold, dense cores of dust and gas that collapse under the […]

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Astronomers Detect Signs of an Invisible Black Hole at the Center of the Milky Way

January 15, 2016

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Nobeyama Radio Telescope Detects Signs of an Invisible Black Hole

Using the Nobeyama Radio Telescope, a team of astronomers has detected signs of an invisible black hole with a mass of 100 thousand times the mass of the Sun around the center of the Milky Way. The team assumes that this possible “intermediate mass” black hole is a key to understanding the birth of the […]

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WISE Reveals Most Luminous Galaxy W2246-0526 Is Ripping Itself Apart

January 15, 2016

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Astronomers View Luminous Galaxy Ripping Itself Apart

New research reveals that the distant galaxy W2246-0526 is expelling tremendously turbulent gas (a phenomenon never seen before in an object of this kind) and is tearing itself apart. In a far-off galaxy, 12.4 billion light-years from Earth, a ravenous black hole is devouring galactic grub. Its feeding frenzy produces so much energy, it stirs […]

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XMM-Newton Reveals High-Speed Winds Around a Supermassive Black Hole

January 14, 2016

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XMM-Newton Reveals High-Speed Gas Streaming from a Spiral Galaxy

ESA’s XMM-Newton reveals that winds around a supermassive black hole located 800 million light-years from Earth are moving at 23,000–33,000 km/s, about 10% the speed of light. ESA’s XMM-Newton has found a wind of high-speed gas streaming from the center of a bright spiral galaxy like our own that may be reducing its ability to […]

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GRAVITY Instrument Reveals a New Double Star

January 13, 2016

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GRAVITY Discovers New Double Star in Orion Trapezium Cluster

The first observations with the new GRAVITY probe reveal that one of the components of the Trapezium Cluster (Theta1 Orionis F) is a double star. Zooming in on black holes is the main mission for the newly installed instrument GRAVITY at ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile. During its first observations, GRAVITY successfully combined starlight […]

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Supercomputers Simulate the Formation of Carbon-Rich Molecules in Space

January 11, 2016

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Formation of Carbon-Rich Molecules in Space

Scientists from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics have used a new generation of supercomputers to simulate how atoms in space might combine to form carbon-rich molecules and clusters. The space between stars is not empty, but contains an abundance of diffuse material, about 5-10% of the total mass of our galaxy (excluding dark matter). Most […]

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Scientists Believe Globular Clusters Could Nurture Interstellar Civilizations

January 7, 2016

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Astronomers Believe Globular Clusters Like 47 Tucanae Could Nurture Interstellar Civilizations

Astronomers believe globular star clusters might be excellent places to search for interstellar civilizations. Their crowded nature means intelligent life at our stage of technological advancement could send probes to the nearest stars. Globular star clusters are extraordinary in almost every way. They’re densely packed, holding a million stars in a ball only about 100 […]

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Spitzer and WISE Reveal Dozens of Runaway Stars

January 6, 2016

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Astronomers Find Dozens of Runaway Stars

Using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, astronomers are finding dozens of the fastest stars in our galaxy. When some speedy, massive stars plow through space, they can cause material to stack up in front of them in the same way that water piles up ahead of a ship. Called bow shocks, […]

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