Astrophysics News

Fermi Helps Link Cosmic Neutrino to Blazar Blast

April 28, 2016

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NASA's Fermi Helps Link Cosmic Neutrino to Blazar Blast

Nearly 10 billion years ago, the black hole at the center of a galaxy known as PKS B1424-418 produced a powerful outburst. Light from this blast began arriving at Earth in 2012. Now astronomers using data from NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope have shown that a record-breaking neutrino seen around the same time likely was […]

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Galaxy Clusters Reveal Information About Dark Energy

April 28, 2016

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Russian Doll Galaxy Clusters Reveal Information About Dark Energy

Researchers are using a large sample of galaxy cluster to investigate dark energy, showing that dark energy has not changed over billions of years. Astronomers have used data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, ESA’s Planck and a large list of optical telescopes to develop a powerful new method for investigating dark energy, the mysterious energy […]

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Astronomers Discover Moon Orbiting the Dwarf Planet Makemake

April 26, 2016

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Hubble Space Telescope Discovers Moon Orbiting the Dwarf Planet Makemake

Using the Hubble Space Telescope a team of astronomers just discovered a moon orbiting dwarf planet Makemake — the third largest known object past the orbit of Neptune, about two thirds the size of Pluto. Peering to the outskirts of our solar system, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has spotted a small, dark moon orbiting Makemake, […]

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Astronomers Use Light Echoes to Measure Protoplanetary Disk

April 26, 2016

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Spitzer Uses Light Echoes to Give Clues to Protoplanetary Disk

Using data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and four ground-based telescopes, astronomers determine the distance from a star to the inner rim of its surrounding protoplanetary disk. Imagine you want to measure the size of a room, but it’s completely dark. If you shout, you can tell if the space you’re in is relatively big […]

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Astronomers Gain a Better Understanding of Spica

April 26, 2016

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Stellar Modelling of Spica

A newly published study details Spica, an eccentric double-lined spectroscopic binary system with a β Cep type variable primary component. The familiar star Spica (Alpha Virginis) is the fifteenth brightest star in the night sky, in part because it is relatively nearby, only about 250 light-years away. It is easy to find by following the […]

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Fermi Observations Poised to Pin Down Gravitational Wave Sources

April 19, 2016

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Fermi Telescope Poised to Pin Down Gravitational Wave Sources

Fermi observations are helping researchers gain a much deeper understanding of gravitational waves. On September 14, waves of energy traveling for more than a billion years gently rattled space-time in the vicinity of Earth. The disturbance, produced by a pair of merging black holes, was captured by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) facilities in […]

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New Discovery Challenges Dark Matter, Stellar Acceleration Models

April 13, 2016

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New Hypervelocity Binary Star Challenges Dark Matter, Stellar Acceleration Models

Astronomers have discovered a hypervelocity binary star that challenges dark matter and stellar acceleration models. A team of astronomers at the Friedrich Alexander University led by Péter Németh has discovered a binary star moving nearly at the escape velocity of our galaxy. There are about two dozen so-called hypervelocity stars known to be escaping the […]

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Stars Strip Away the Atmosphere of Super-Earths

April 13, 2016

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Stars Strip Away the Atmosphere of Nearby Super-Earths

Even a super-Earth can fly too close to the sun, according to a new study from Yale University. An international team of astronomers has found a new category of planets beyond our solar system whose atmosphere has been stripped bare by the radiation from their own sun. The findings will appear in the journal Nature […]

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Astronomers Discover a 17 Billion Solar-Mass Black Hole in an Unlikely Place

April 11, 2016

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A 17 Billion Solar-Mass Black Hole Discovered

Using the Hubble Space Telescope and the Gemini Telescope in Hawaii, a team of astronomers has uncovered one of the biggest supermassive black holes in an unlikely place: the center of a galaxy that lies in a quiet backwater of the Universe. Until now, the biggest supermassive black holes — those having more than 10 […]

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Astronomers Reveal a Planet Forming in an Earth-Like Orbit Around Young Star TW Hydrae

March 31, 2016

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Astronomers Find a Planet Forming in an Earth-like Orbit around a Young Star

Using data from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, astronomers reveal a planet-forming disk in unprecedented detail, revealing a series of concentric dusty bright rings and dark gaps, including intriguing features that suggest a planet with an Earth-like orbit is forming there. Disks of dust and gas that surround young stars are the formation sites of […]

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Astronomers Identify Likely Trigger for Milky Way’s Youngest Supernova

March 30, 2016

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Astronomers Identify Trigger for Milky Way's Youngest Supernova

Using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the NSF’s Jansky Very Large Array, astronomers have determined the likely trigger for the most recent supernova in the Milky Way. Astronomers had previously identified G1.9+0.3 as the remnant of the most recent supernova in our Galaxy. It is estimated to have occurred about 110 years ago from the […]

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Astronomers Investigate the Mystery of Migrating ‘Hot Jupiters’

March 29, 2016

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Hot Jupiter HD 80606b

Using infrared light, NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope measured the extreme temperature swings of exoplanet HD 80606b. The last decade has seen a bonanza of exoplanet discoveries. Nearly 2,000 exoplanets — planets outside our solar system — have been confirmed so far, and more than 5,000 candidate exoplanets have been identified. Many of these exotic worlds […]

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Astronomers Identify a Signature of Dark Matter Annihilation

March 25, 2016

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Astronomers Detect the Signature of Dark Matter Annihilation

By studying the spatial distribution of gamma-ray emission in the Milky Way, astronomers believe they have identified a signature of dark matter annihilation. We live in a dramatic epoch of astrophysics. Breakthrough discoveries like exoplanets, gravity waves from merging black holes, or cosmic acceleration seem to arrive every decade, or even more often. But perhaps […]

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Scientists Discover a Binary Companion for a Type Ia Supernova

March 24, 2016

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Astronomers Discover a Binary Companion for a Type Ia Supernova

A newly published study details evidence for the interaction between a normal Type Ia supernova and a non-degenerate binary companion. A team of astronomers including Harvard’s Robert Kirshner and Peter Challis has detected a flash of light from the companion to an exploding star. This is the first time astronomers have witnessed the impact of […]

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Chandra Observations Show Solar Storms Trigger Jupiter’s ‘Northern Lights’

March 23, 2016

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Chandra Reveals Jupiter’s Northern Lights

Using data from NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory, astronomers show that solar storms trigger Jupiter’s intense ‘Northern Lights’ by generating a new X-ray aurora that is eight times brighter than normal and hundreds of times more energetic than Earth’s aurora borealis. It is the first time that Jupiter’s X-ray aurora has been studied when a giant […]

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Scientists Discover Colossal ‘Super Spiral’ Galaxies

March 17, 2016

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Superluminous Spiral Galaxies

Using archived NASA data, researchers have discovered “super spiral” galaxies that dwarf the Milky Way and compete in size and brightness with the largest galaxies in the universe. The unprecedented galaxies have long hidden in plain sight by mimicking the appearance of typical spirals. A strange new kind of galactic beast has been spotted in […]

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Astronomers Show Magnetic Field is Critical for Life

March 16, 2016

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Magnetic Field Was Critical for Life on the Early Earth

Newly published research from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics shows that any Earth-like planet would need a magnetic field in order to protect its atmosphere and be habitable. Nearly four billion years ago, life arose on Earth. Life appeared because our planet had a rocky surface, liquid water, and a blanketing atmosphere. But life thrived […]

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Astronomers Analyze the Distribution of Globular Clusters

March 14, 2016

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The Extended Spatial Distribution of Globular Clusters

Astronomers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics have analyzed the distribution of over eighty thousand globular clusters to infer an active history of galaxy-galaxy interactions. Globular clusters are gravitationally bound, roughly spherical ensembles of stars. Some contain as many as a million stars, and their sizes are as small as only tens of light-years in […]

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