Astrophysics News

Astronomers Discover X-Ray Echoes from a Black Hole That Shattered a Passing Star

June 23, 2016

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X-ray Echoes of a Shredded Star Provide Close-up of Black Hole

Using data from the Swift Satellite, astronomers have identified the reflections of X-ray flares erupting from a star that was shattered by a black hole. Some 3.9 billion years ago in the heart of a distant galaxy, the intense tidal pull of a monster black hole shredded a star that passed too close. When X-rays […]

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XMM-Newton Reveals the First ‘Wind Nebula’ Around a Magnetar

June 21, 2016

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Astronomers Find Wind Nebula Around a Magnetar

Using the XMM-Newton X-ray observatory, a team of astronomers has discovered a vast cloud of high-energy particles around a rare ultra-magnetic neutron star for the first time. The find offers a unique window into the properties, environment and outburst history of magnetars, which are the strongest magnets in the universe. A neutron star is the […]

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ALMA Reveals Methanol in the TW Hydrae Protoplanetary Disk

June 20, 2016

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New Study Shows Comets are Forming in Distant Solar System

Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA), astronomers have discovered the organic molecule methyl alcohol (methanol) in the protoplanetary disk around the star TW Hydrae. This is the first such detection of the compound in a young planet-forming disk, and points to a region where comets are forming. Astronomers announced that they have found the […]

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Astronomers Confirm Youngest Known Transiting Exoplanet

June 20, 2016

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New Study Confirms Youngest Transiting Exoplanet to Date

Using the MEarth-North and MEarth-South arrays, astronomers have confirmed the discovery of the youngest known planet, only 11 million years old, which transits its star once every 5.4 days. The existence of this infant world was first detected by NASA’s Kepler K2 mission. “Young stars tend to be very blotchy, with starspots that can mimic […]

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Astronomers Find an Unexpected Amount of Giant Planets in Star Cluster Messier 67

June 17, 2016

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Unexpected Excess of Giant Planets in Star Cluster Messier 67

A team of astronomers reveals that there are far more planets of the hot Jupiter type than expected in star cluster Messier 67. The surprising discovery was obtained using a number of telescopes and instruments, among them the HARPS spectrograph at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. The denser environment in a cluster will cause […]

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Did LIGO Find Dark Matter?

June 16, 2016

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Gravitational Waves Detected

When it was announced that LIGO detected gravitational waves this past February, astrophysicists wondered about something else: Had the experiment found the “dark matter” that makes up most of the mass of the universe? http://www.mpg.de-streaming-eu.s3.amazonaws.com/de/forschung/Gravitationswellen_Hires_GW151226_HD.mp4 This simulation of the binary black-hole coalescence GW151226 shows two black holes of 14 and 8 solar masses orbiting each […]

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LIGO Detects Gravitational Waves Again

June 15, 2016

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LIGO Detects Gravitational Waves for the Second Time

The twin Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) has detected gravitational waves for the second time. The signal was produced by two black holes colliding 1.4 billion light years away. For the second time, scientists have directly detected gravitational waves — ripples through the fabric of space-time, created by extreme, cataclysmic events in the distant universe. […]

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Astronomers Study T-Tauri Stars in the Chamaeleon Star-Forming Region

June 10, 2016

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Young Stars and Nebulosity in Chamaeleon

New research on young (T-Tauri) stars in the Chamaeleon and Rho Ophiuchus star-forming regions has determined their ages as being between about five – six million years old, as well as determining other properties. A newborn star typically goes through four stages of adolescence. It begins life as a protostar still enshrouded in its natal […]

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Astronomers Observe Supermassive Black Hole Feeding on Cold Gas

June 8, 2016

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MIT Astronomers Observe Supermassive Black Hole Feeding on Cold Gas

A newly published study details the first direct evidence to support the hypothesis that black holes feed on clouds of cold gas. At the center of a galaxy cluster, 1 billion light years from Earth, a voracious, supermassive black hole is preparing for a chilly feast. For the first time, astronomers have detected billowy clouds […]

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New Reseach Shows Cloudy Days on Hot Jupiters May Hide Atmospheric Water

June 8, 2016

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New Study Shows Cloudy Days on Exoplanets May Hide Atmospheric Water

New research suggests that as much as half of the water in the atmospheres of exoplanets may be blocked by clouds or hazes. Water is a hot topic in the study of exoplanets, including “hot Jupiters,” whose masses are similar to that of Jupiter, but which are much closer to their parent star than Jupiter […]

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CEMP Stars Could Host Carbon Planets

June 7, 2016

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First Life Might Have Been Born on Carbon Planets

A newly published study from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics suggests that planet formation in the early universe might have created carbon planets consisting of graphite, carbides, and diamond. Our Earth consists of silicate rocks and an iron core with a thin veneer of water and life. But the first potentially habitable worlds to form […]

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The Canarias Einstein Ring – A Newly Discovered Einstein Ring

June 3, 2016

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Astronomers Discover a New Einstein Ring

A newly published study details the discovery of a new Einstein Ring, a rare image of a distant galaxy lensed by gravity. In his seminal general theory of relativity published a century ago, Albert Einstein predicted that gravity would distort the fabric of spacetime, and that light would follow curved paths as a result. Astronomers […]

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Hubble Reveals Universe Is Expanding Faster Than Expected

June 2, 2016

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The Universe Is Expanding Faster Than Expected

Using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers reveal that the universe is expanding 5 percent to 9 percent faster than expected. “This surprising finding may be an important clue to understanding those mysterious parts of the universe that make up 95 percent of everything and don’t emit light, such as dark energy, dark matter and dark […]

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Lund Astronomers Believe Planet 9 Was an Exoplanet

May 31, 2016

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Planet 9 Was Once an Exoplanet

New research details how Planet 9 may have once been an exoplanet “captured” by our sun billions of years ago. Through a computer-simulated study, astronomers at Lund University in Sweden show that it is highly likely that the so-called Planet 9 is an exoplanet. This would make it the first exoplanet to be discovered inside […]

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Supermassive Black Holes in ‘Red Geyser’ Galaxies Suppress Star Formation

May 26, 2016

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Supermassive Black Holes Cause Galactic Warming

New research details the discovery of a new class of galaxies, called “red geysers,” with supermassive black hole winds so hot and energetic that stars can’t form. Over the last few billion years, a mysterious kind of “galactic warming” has caused many galaxies to change from a lively place where new stars formed every now […]

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Astronomers Discover Clues For How Giant Black Holes Formed So Quickly

May 25, 2016

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Evidence That Some Early Supermassive Black Holes Formed Directly from the Collapse of a Gas Cloud

Using the combined data from Chandra, Hubble, and Spitzer, atronomers have found evidence that some early supermassive black holes formed directly from the collapse of a gas cloud. Astronomers have found the best evidence yet for cosmic seeds in the early universe that should grow into supermassive black holes. Researchers combined data from NASA’s Chandra […]

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NASA Astronomer Reveals Possible Link Between Primordial Black Holes and Dark Matter

May 24, 2016

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Astronomers Suggest Possible Link Between Primordial Black Holes and Dark Matter

A newly published study from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center suggests a possible link between primordial black holes and dark matter. Dark matter is a mysterious substance composing most of the material universe, now widely thought to be some form of massive exotic particle. An intriguing alternative view is that dark matter is made of […]

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Astronomers Reveal the Secret Life of the Orion Nebula

May 16, 2016

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Secrets of the Orion Nebula Revealed

A team of astronomers reveal how the interplay of magnetic fields and gravitation in the gas cloud lead to the birth of new stars. Space bears witness to a constant stream of star births. And whole star clusters are often formed at the same time – and within a comparatively short period. Amelia Stutz and […]

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