Astrophysics News

First Direct Evidence of the Formation Process of Brown Dwarfs

August 1, 2015

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Astronomers Reveal Brown Dwarfs and Stars Share Formation Process

Using the Very Large Array, an international team of astronomers has discovered jets of material ejected by still-forming young brown dwarfs, revealing the first direct evidence that brown dwarfs are produced by a scaled-down version of the same process that produces stars. The astronomers studied a sample of still-forming brown dwarfs in a star-forming region […]

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Spitzer Confirms Rocky Exoplanet HD 219134b, about 1.6 Times the Size of Earth

July 30, 2015

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Location of Rocky Exoplanet HD 219134b Confirmed

Using the Spitzer Space Telescope, researchers have confirmed the discovery of the nearest rocky planet outside our solar system – exoplanet HD 219134b. Dubbed HD 219134b, this exoplanet, which orbits too close to its star to sustain life, is a mere 21 light-years away. While the planet itself can’t be seen directly, even by telescopes, […]

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ESO Discovers Lithium from an Exploding Star

July 29, 2015

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ESO Detects Lithium from Exploding Star Nova Centauri 2013

Using telescopes at ESO’s La Silla Observatory, astronomers have discovered the chemical element lithium for the first time in material ejected by a nova. This new finding fills in a long-missing piece in the puzzle representing our galaxy’s chemical evolution, and is a big step forward for astronomers trying to understand the amounts of different […]

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Astronomers Develop New Models to Search for Molecular Oxygen

July 27, 2015

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Astronomers Find Molecular Oxygen

Newly published research from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics provides the first self-consistent treatment of preshock, shock, and postshock regions under the influence of UV fields, and explains why O2 detections are so rare. Oxygen is the third most abundant element in the universe (after hydrogen and helium) and of course it is important: all […]

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The Impact of Cosmic Wind on Galaxy Evolution

July 27, 2015

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Hubble Image of a Spiral Galaxy in the Coma Cluster

A newly published study from Yale University gives astronomers a clearer view of how powerful cosmic winds can blow through galaxies, sweeping out interstellar material and stopping future star formation. A Yale University analysis of one such event in a nearby galaxy provides an unprecedented look at the process. The research is described in the […]

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NASA Lab Results Reveal Recipe for Extraterrestrial Vitamin B3

July 24, 2015

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Astronomers Find Extraterrestrial Vitamin

New NASA experiments reveal that vitamin B3 and other complex organic compounds could be made in space and it is plausible that meteorite and comet impacts could have added an extraterrestrial component to the supply of vitamin B3 on ancient Earth. Vitamin B3 could have been made on icy dust grains in space, and later […]

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Kepler Discovers Bigger, Older Cousin to Earth

July 23, 2015

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Kepler Discovers Bigger, Older Cousin to Earth

NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope has discovered a planet and star that closely resemble the Earth and our Sun. NASA’s Kepler mission has confirmed the first near-Earth-size planet in the “habitable zone” around a sun-like star. This discovery and the introduction of 11 other new small habitable zone candidate planets mark another milestone in the journey […]

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Chandra Reveals Pulsar Punching Hole in Stellar Disk

July 23, 2015

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Double Star System Jettisons Material at Incredibly High Speeds

Data from Chandra reveal that a pulsar in orbit around a massive star punched through a circumstellar disk of material, jettisoning a clump of material from the double star system at incredibly high speeds. A fast-moving pulsar appears to have punched a hole in a disk of gas around its companion star and launched a […]

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ALMA Views the Formation of Galaxies in the Early Universe for the First Time

July 22, 2015

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ALMA Views Assembly of Galaxies in the Early Universe

New observations from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array reveal the most distant clouds of star-forming gas yet found in normal galaxies in the early Universe. The new images allow astronomers to start to see how the first galaxies were built up and how they cleared the cosmic fog during the era of reionization. This is […]

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A New Class of Magnetar-Powered Supernova

July 20, 2015

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A Very Luminous Magnetar-Powered Supernova

ESO’s La Silla and Paranal Observatories have demonstrated for the first time a link between a very long-lasting burst of gamma rays and an unusually bright supernova explosion. The study reveals that the supernova following the burst GRB 111209A was not driven by radioactive decay, as expected, but was instead powered by the decaying super-strong […]

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Astronomers Believe There May Be a New Population of Circumbinary Planets

July 16, 2015

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Astronomers Present New Ideas on How to Find Compact Binary Systems

Newly published research from astronomers at Cornell University suggests that there may be a new population of circumbinary planets, which orbit around more-compact binaries (with periods less than a few days) and have their orbital axes misaligned with the binary axes. Sibling suns – made famous in the “Star Wars” scene where Luke Skywalker gazes […]

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Astronomers Discover a “Jupiter Twin” Around a Sun-Like Star

July 15, 2015

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Astronomers Discover Jupiter Twin Orbiting HIP 11915

Using the ESO 3.6-meter telescope, an international team of astronomers has identified a planet just like Jupiter orbiting at the same distance from the Sun-like star HIP 11915. According to current theories, the formation of Jupiter-mass planets plays an important role in shaping the architecture of planetary systems. The existence of a Jupiter-mass planet in […]

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Fermi Views Blazar 3C 279’s Record Gamma-Ray Flare

July 11, 2015

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Image of Blazar 3C 279's Historic Gamma-Ray Flare

NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and other satellites have recorded a record flare from a black hole at the center of the distant galaxy 3C 279. Five billion years ago, a great disturbance rocked a region near the monster black hole at the center of galaxy 3C 279. On June 14, the pulse of high-energy […]

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Massive Black Hole Outgrows Its Galaxy, Measures Nearly 7 Billion Solar Masses

July 10, 2015

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Massive Black Hole Outgrows Its Galaxy CID-947

A team of scientists has discovered a black hole in the early universe that grew much faster than its host galaxy, resulting in a gigantic black hole within a normal-size galaxy. The discovery runs counter to most observations about black holes, which are massive areas of space with extraordinarily strong gravity that can pull in […]

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NASA’s Swift Views a New Outburst from V404 Cygni

July 10, 2015

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NASA's Swift Views Black Hole of V404 Cygni

Since June 15, astronomers have been monitoring the ongoing light show detected by NASA’s Swift satellite. This new outburst is from V404 Cygni, a binary system where a black hole and a sun-like star orbit each other. What looks like a shooting target is actually an image of nested rings of X-ray light centered on […]

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Kilo-Degree Survey Shines Light on Dark Matter

July 9, 2015

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First Results from Major New Dark Matter Survey

The first results from the Kilo-Degree Survey have been released, helping to further expand our understanding of dark matter. The first results have been released from a major new dark matter survey of the southern skies using ESO’s VLT Survey Telescope (VST) at the Paranal Observatory in Chile. The VST KiDS survey will allow astronomers […]

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Study Predicts Building Blocks for Earth-Like Planets in Every Exoplanet System in the Milky Way

July 8, 2015

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Building Blocks of Earth-like Rocks Found in Every Planetary System

A new study being presented at National Astronomy Meeting in Llandudno shows that Earth-like planets orbiting other stars in the Milky Way are three times more likely to have the same type of minerals as Earth than astronomers had previously thought and that conditions for making the building blocks of Earth-like rocks are ubiquitous throughout […]

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Astronomers Detail the Demographics of Transition Discs in Ophiuchus and Taurus

July 7, 2015

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Demographics of Transition Discs in Ophiuchus and Taurus

New research from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics reveals that the most probable explanation for the inner gap in transition disks is the influence of one or more giant planets orbiting nearby. A star is typically born with a disk of gas and dust encircling it, from which planets develop as dust grains in the […]

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