Astrophysics News

Meteorites Reveal Evidence of Moon-Forming Impact

April 17, 2015

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Chelyabinsk Meteorite

A newly published study uses the impact heat signatures in meteorites to date the Moon-forming impact between a large protoplanet and proto-Earth. The inner Solar System’s biggest known collision was the moon-forming giant impact between a large protoplanet and the proto-Earth. Kilometer-sized fragments from this impact hit main belt asteroids at much higher velocities than […]

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Chandra Finds Evidence of a Planet Possibly Ripped Apart by a White Dwarf Star

April 17, 2015

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White Dwarf Star Rips Apart a Planet

By combining data from Chandra and several other telescopes, researchers think they have discovered the remains of a planet that may have been ripped apart by a white dwarf star in the outskirts of the Milky Way. The destruction of a planet may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but a team of astronomers […]

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Dark Energy Survey Reveals Detailed Guide to Spotting Dark Matter

April 16, 2015

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Dark Energy Survey Creates Detailed Guide to Spotting Dark Matter

Scientists have created the largest single high definition map of dark matter, helping researchers understand the role that dark matter plays in galaxy formation. Scientists on the Dark Energy Survey have released the first in a series of dark matter maps of the cosmos. These maps, created with one of the world’s most powerful digital […]

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The Possible First Signs of Self-interacting Dark Matter

April 15, 2015

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Dark Matter Observed Interacting with Other Dark Matter

Using new Hubble Space Telescope imaging and VLT/MUSE integral field spectroscopy, astronomers reveal what may be the first signs of self-interacting dark matter. For the first time dark matter may have been observed interacting with other dark matter in a way other than through the force of gravity. Observations of colliding galaxies made with ESO’s […]

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Spitzer and OGLE Discover a Planet Deep Within Our Galaxy

April 15, 2015

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Spitzer Finds a Planet Deep Within Our Galaxy

Using a method called microlensing, NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and OGLE’s Warsaw Telescope teamed up to reveal a remote gas planet that is located about 13,000 light-years away. The discovery demonstrates that Spitzer — from its unique perch in space — can be used to help solve the puzzle of how planets are distributed throughout […]

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Unusual Isotopic Abundances Discovered in Nova Vul 1670

April 10, 2015

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Eruptive Star Nova Vul 1670

A newly published study reveals that Nova Vul 1670 is not only rich in molecular species, its gas has dramatically unusual isotopic abundances (that is, the atoms present, carbon, oxygen and nitrogen in particular, have extra neutrons in their nuclei). Astronomers have known for decades that the merger of two normal stars is a frequent […]

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Astronomers Discover Complex Organic Molecules in Infant Star System

April 10, 2015

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Complex Cyanides Reveal Composition of a Protoplanetary Disk

Astronomers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics have detected the presence of complex organic molecules in a protoplanetary disk surrounding a young star, indicating that the conditions that spawned our Earth and Sun are not unique in the universe. This discovery, made with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), reveals that the protoplanetary disk surrounding […]

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NASA Study Shows ICMEs Can Have Profound Effects On Unprotected Planets

April 9, 2015

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Solar Eruptions Can Have Profound Effects On Unprotected Planets

Using data from Venus Express, researchers show how the impact of a slow Interplanetary Coronal Mass Ejection (ICME) can have profound effects on planets without protective magnetospheres. While no one yet knows what’s needed to build a habitable planet, it’s clear that the interplay between the sun and Earth is crucial for making our planet […]

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New Research Helps Reveal the Evolution of Milky Way-Like Galaxies

April 9, 2015

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Evolution of M* Galaxy Progenitors

New research provides the most complete picture yet of how galaxies like the Milky Way grew over the past 10 billion years into today’s majestic spiral galaxies. In one of the most comprehensive multi-observatory galaxy surveys yet, astronomers find that galaxies like our Milky Way underwent a stellar “baby boom,” churning out stars at a […]

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Astronomers Detail Seasonal, Year-Long Cycles Seen on the Sun

April 8, 2015

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Astronomers View Seasonal Cycles Seen on the Sun

New research examines what creates the magnetic bands on the Sun and how they influence solar cycles, revealing that the changes in the magnetic field in the bands gives rise to a 330-day activity cycle on the sun that is observable but has often been downplayed and overlooked when trying to seek the cause of […]

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Suzaku X-ray Satellite Reveals Pre-Explosion Mass of a White Dwarf Star

April 6, 2015

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Astronomers Reveal Pre-Explosion Mass of a White Dwarf Star

A newly published study reveals that supernova remnant 3C 397 is the remains a single white dwarf that accumulated matter from a normal companion star. The white dwarf exploded as its mass neared 1.4 solar masses. Using archival data from the Japan-led Suzaku X-ray satellite, astronomers have determined the pre-explosion mass of a white dwarf […]

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Hubble Reveals Phantom Objects Near Dead Quasars

April 2, 2015

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Hubble Reveals Phantom Objects Near Dead Stars

Astronomers have identified eight galaxies with bright active nuclei that have illuminated material far outside the radius of the galaxy. The eerie structures have looping, spiral, and braided shapes. Hubble’s images show that they are like the remnants of galaxy collisions. NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has photographed a set of wispy, goblin-green objects that are […]

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Herschel and Planck Identify Some of the Oldest and Rarest Galaxy Clusters

March 31, 2015

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Astronomers Identified Some of the Oldest and Rarest Galaxy Clusters

By using data from ESA’s Herschel and Planck space observatories, astronomers have discovered what could be the precursors of the vast clusters of galaxies that we see today. One telescope finds the treasure chest, and the other narrows in on the gold coins. Data from two European Space Telescope missions, Planck and Herschel, have together […]

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Mathematical Simulations Show Rocky Planets May Orbit Double Stars

March 30, 2015

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Planet Formation Around Binary Stars

In a new study, astronomers used mathematical analysis and simulations to show that it is possible for a rocky planet to form around binary stars. To date, NASA’s Kepler space telescope has found only gas-giant planets like Saturn or Neptune orbiting binary stars. March 30, 2015 – Luke Skywalker’s home in “Star Wars” is the […]

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Magnetic Fields Influence Star Formation on a Variety of Scales

March 30, 2015

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Magnetic Fields Influence Star Formation

A newly published study from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics reveals that magnetic fields influence star formation on a variety of scales, from hundreds of light-years down to a fraction of a light-year. Cambridge, Massachusetts – Stars form when gravity pulls together material within giant clouds of gas and dust. But gravity isn’t the only […]

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VLT Confirms G2 Survived Close Approach of Supermassive Black Hole

March 27, 2015

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G2 Passes Supermassive Black Hole

New VLT observations confirm that the dusty gas cloud G2 made its closest approach to the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way in May 2014 and has survived the experience. The new result from ESO’s Very Large Telescope shows that the object appears not to have been significantly stretched and that […]

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New Findings Will Help Light the Way to Understanding Dark Energy

March 27, 2015

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New Research Analyzes Several Sites Where Dead Stars Once Exploded

Astronomers used data from NASA’s Galaxy Evolution Explorer to analyze several sites where dead stars once exploded, revealing that the Type Ia supernovae affiliated with the hot, young stars were significantly more reliable at indicating distances than their counterparts. The brilliant explosions of dead stars have been used for years to illuminate the far-flung reaches […]

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