Astrophysics News

NASA Telescopes Reveal a Surprising Blazar Connection

August 24, 2016

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A Surprising Blazar Connection Revealed

Using data from from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) and Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, astronomers studying distant galaxies powered by monster black holes have uncovered an unexpected link between two very different wavelengths of the light they emit, the mid-infrared and gamma rays. The discovery has enabled the researchers to uncover dozens of new […]

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Exoplanet GJ 1132b Might Have a Thin Oxygen Atmosphere

August 18, 2016

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Venus-like Exoplanet GJ 1132b Might Have Oxygen Atmosphere

New research from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics reveals that the Venus-like Exoplanet GJ 1132b might possess a thin, oxygen atmosphere – but no life due to its extreme heat. The distant planet GJ 1132b intrigued astronomers when it was discovered last year. Located just 39 light-years from Earth, it might have an atmosphere despite […]

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Chandra Data Raises Questions about the Timing and Origin of Supernova Remnant G11.2-0.3

August 18, 2016

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New Chandra Data of the Supernova Remnant G11

New Chandra data of the supernova remnant G11.2-0.3 raise new questions about the timing of its origin. Chandra observations show that dense gas clouds lie along the line of sight between Earth and G11.2-0.3, meaning that the supernova explosion would have been too faint to be seen with the naked eye from Earth. A new […]

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Iris Nebula Offers Clues to the Building Blocks of Life

August 16, 2016

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Molecules in Nebula NGC 7023 Offer Clues to the Building Blocks of Life

Using data from NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy and other observatories, astronomers reveal how a particular type of organic molecules, the raw materials for life – could develop in space. This information could help scientists better understand how life could have developed on Earth. Bavo Croiset of Leiden University in the Netherlands and his […]

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Hubble Discovers Two Dwarf Galaxies Moving into the Milky Way

August 15, 2016

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Hubble Uncovers a Galaxy Pair Moving into the Milky Way

A team of astronomers has discovered two dwarf galaxies that have traveled from the remote hinterlands of space to the Milky Way. NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has uncovered two tiny dwarf galaxies that have wandered from a vast cosmic wilderness into a nearby “big city” packed with galaxies. After being quiescent for billions of years, […]

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ALMA Images the Planetesimal Belt around HR8799

August 15, 2016

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Resolving the Planetesimal Belt of HR 8799

Using the ALMA submillimeter array, astronomers image the disk around HR8799 with a spatial scale as small as only thirty-two au, enough to probe the inner zones of the disk. Planets develop from the dusty placental disk of material that surrounds a star after it begins to shine. The dust in that disk, according to […]

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Astronomers Discover Chiral Molecules in Interstellar Space

August 8, 2016

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Astronomers Chiral Molecules in Space

A team of astronomers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics has detected chiral molecules in interstellar space. Life on Earth is based on chiral molecules. Chiral molecules are those that have a “handedness,” that is, they take one of two forms, identical in chemical composition but with mirror image shapes – like our right and […]

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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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