Astrophysics News

Astronomers Reveal the Rotation of the Hot Gas Around the Milky Way

July 27, 2016

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Astronomers Reveal the Dizzying Spin of the Milky Way’s Halo

A team of astronomers has discovered that the hot gas in the halo of the Milky Way galaxy is spinning in the same direction and at comparable speed as the galaxy’s disk, which contains our stars, planets, gas, and dust. This new knowledge sheds light on how individual atoms have assembled into stars, planets, and […]

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Astronomers Reveal ‘Orphaned Protostars’

July 26, 2016

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Astronomers Study Protostars at Low Extinction in Orion A

New research from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics concludes that ten protostellar candidates are indeed protostars even though they are not presently embedded in a cloud. Stars form as gravity contracts the gas and dust in an interstellar cloud until clumps develop that are dense enough to coalesce into stars. Precisely how this happens, however, […]

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Spitzer Provides Astronomers with a New Way to See the Milky Way’s Giant Black Hole

July 26, 2016

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Astronomers See the Milky Way's Giant Black Hole with New Eyes

Astronomers are using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope to further explore Sagittarius A*. At the center of our Milky Way galaxy lies a cosmic beast called Sagittarius A*. This supermassive black hole packs about four million sun-masses into a volume roughly the size of our solar system. Recently, NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope began exploring this exotic […]

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ALMA Detects Water Snowline Around Young Star V883 Orionis

July 18, 2016

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Water Snowline Around Young Star V883 Orionis

Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), a team of astronomers has made the first ever resolved observation of a water snow line within a protoplanetary disc. This line marks where the temperature in the disc surrounding a young star drops sufficiently low for snow to form. A dramatic increase in the brightness of the […]

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Chandra Reveals Evidence for Violent Stellar Merger

July 15, 2016

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Astronomers Find Evidence for Violent Stellar Merger

Using data from Chandra, astronomers have the strongest evidence to date that violent stellar mergers produce pencil-thin jets. This result has implications for estimating the number of such mergers that may detected with gravitational wave observatories. Gamma-ray bursts, or GRBs, are some of the most violent and energetic events in the Universe. Although these events […]

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A Quiet Space in the Core of the Perseus Cluster

July 15, 2016

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Astronomers Study the Quiet Intracluster Medium in the Core of the Perseus Cluster

Using the Hitomi satellite astronomers find that turbulence in the central region of the Perseus cluster is low, implying that errors in previous measurements of the masses of galaxy clusters using X-ray observations are small. Most galaxies lie in clusters, groupings of a few to many thousands of galaxies. Our Milky Way galaxy itself is […]

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New Map Measures the Effects of Dark Energy in the Expansion of the Universe

July 14, 2016

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Astronomers Measure Dark Energy

A new study details the results from the largest-ever, three-dimensional map of distant galaxies. The map is one of the most precise measurements yet of the dark energy currently driving the accelerated expansion of the Universe. “We have spent five years collecting measurements of 1.2 million galaxies over one quarter of the sky to map […]

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Kepler Shows Warm Jupiters Not As Lonely As Expected

July 14, 2016

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Warm Jupiters Not As Lonely As Expected

Astronomers have used data from the Kepler Space Telescope to give the clearest understanding yet of a class of exoplanets called Warm Jupiters, revealing that many have unexpected planetary companions. The team’s analysis, published July 10th in the Astrophysical Journal, provides strong evidence of the existence of two distinct types of Warm Jupiters, each with […]

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Astronomers Prove the Existence of a “Gravitational Vortex” Around a Black Hole

July 13, 2016

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XMM-Newton Proves the Existence of a "Gravitational Vortex" Around a Black Hole

Using data from XMM-Newton and NuSTAR, astronomers have proved the existence of a “gravitational vortex” around a black hole. This new discovery, aided by NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) mission, solves a mystery that has eluded astronomers for more than 30 years, and will allow them to map the behavior of matter very close […]

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Astronomers Reveal the Secrets of ‘Frankenstein’ Galaxy UGC 1382

July 11, 2016

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'Frankenstein' Galaxy Surprises Scientists

Using data from NASA telescopes and other observatories, astronomers reveal the secrets of UGC 1382, revealing that the galaxy is 10 times bigger than previously thought and, unlike most galaxies, its insides are younger than its outsides, almost as if it had been built using spare parts. About 250 million light-years away, there’s a neighborhood […]

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Hitomi Mission Discovers a Quiet Space in the Perseus Cluster

July 7, 2016

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Hitomi Finds Quiet Space in the Heart of the Perseus Cluster

The Hitomi X-ray Observatory has discovered something quite serene: calm at the heart of the Perseus cluster. Scientists from the international Hitomi mission report July 6 in the journal Nature that a “remarkably quiescent atmosphere” exists at the heart of the Perseus cluster, located in the constellation Perseus. The new information, obtained with an innovative […]

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Astronomers Discover a Planet in a Triple Star System

July 7, 2016

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Newly-Discovered Planet Has 3 Suns

Using direct imaging, a team of astronomers has discovered a young Jovian exoplanet within a triple-star system. If you thought Luke Skywalker’s home planet, Tatooine, was a strange world with its two suns in the sky, imagine this: a planet with either constant daylight or triple sunrises and sunsets each day depending on the seasons […]

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Astronomers Discover Evidence of a ‘Direct-Collapse Black Hole’

July 6, 2016

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CR7 Provides Evidence for an Unusual Kind of Black Hole

A newly published study details evidence for a direct collapse black hole in the Lyman α source CR7. Astronomers Aaron Smith and Volker Bromm of The University of Texas at Austin, working with Avi Loeb of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, have discovered evidence for an unusual kind of black hole born extremely early in […]

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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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