Harvard-Smithsonian Center For Astrophysics News

Nearly Completed VPHAS+ Catalog to Include 300 Million Stars

April 18, 2014

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Nearly completed, the VPHAS+ catalog will include stars and nebulae that are as much as 1500 times fainter than the ones in the older catalog, as well as much improved images of all objects. Atomic hydrogen is the lightest and by far most abundant element in the universe. When it is exposed to ultraviolet light, […]

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Astronomers Detect Dramatic Flow of Rapidly Moving Molecular Gas in Abell 1835

April 11, 2014

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Using the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the ALMA radio array, astronomers have detected a flow of about ten billion solar-masses of rapidly moving molecular gas in galaxy cluster Abell 1835. Galaxy clusters are groupings of several to thousands of galaxies. Most galaxies are members of a cluster. In our own case, the Milky Way is […]

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CfA Scientists Measure the Rate of Expansion of the Universe

April 7, 2014

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Using data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, CfA scientists examined 264,283 galaxies and measured the signature of the acoustic waves left behind. Perhaps the most astonishing and revolutionary discovery in cosmology was that galaxies are moving away from us. Hubble’s 1929 paper provides the underpinning of the big bang picture of creation in which […]

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Fermi Data Reveal New Clues to Dark Matter

April 4, 2014

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New maps from the Fermi-LAT Collaboration show that the galactic center produces more high-energy gamma rays than can be explained by known sources, suggesting that this excess emission is consistent with some forms of dark matter. A new study of gamma-ray light from the center of our galaxy makes the strongest case to date that […]

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Distant Galaxy Seen As It Was 800 Million Years After The Big Bang

March 28, 2014

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Using gravitational lensing, astronomers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics measured the spectra of carbon, nitrogen, carbon monoxide, and water in a galaxy seen a mere 800 million years after the big bang. About fifteen years ago astronomers, using improved submillimeter wavelength telescopes, discovered a new class of very distant galaxies: submillimeter galaxies (SMGs). These […]

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Astronomers Probe the Transition Disk Around Sz 91

March 21, 2014

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CfA astronomers used the Submillimeter Array to probe the transition disk around Sz 91, finding find that it is more like a ring than a disk and that the mass of the disk is about the same as the mass of Jupiter. A star is typically born with a disk of gas and dust encircling […]

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Researchers Discover the First Direct Evidence of Cosmic Inflation

March 18, 2014

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Researchers have discovered the first direct evidence of cosmic inflation, confirming a deep connection between quantum mechanics and general relativity. Cambridge, Massachusetts – Almost 14 billion years ago, the universe we inhabit burst into existence in an extraordinary event that initiated the Big Bang. In the first fleeting fraction of a second, the universe expanded […]

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Researchers Model the Workings of an X-ray Binary Star

March 14, 2014

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Using ten years’ worth of optical, infrared and X-ray data on LMC X-3, astronomers developed a model that can successfully explain the workings of an X-ray binary star. The bright X-ray source known as LMC X-3 resides in the Large Magellanic Cloud, the dwarf galaxy that is the Milky Way’s nearest neighbor. Two decades ago […]

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Galaxy X-Rays Could Emanate from Dark Matter Particles

March 12, 2014

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Two new studies report that x-rays emanating from the hearts of nearby galaxies and galaxy clusters could be signs of particles of dark matter decaying in space. X-rays of a specific wavelength emanating from the hearts of nearby galaxies and galaxy clusters could be signs of particles of dark matter decaying in space, two independent […]

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Astronomers Examine Star Formation in Luminous, Colliding Galaxies

March 7, 2014

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By combining computer simulations with multi-band observations, two new studies examine how luminosity, star formation, dust heating, and other effects evolve during a galaxy collision. Nearly thirty years ago the Infrared Astronomy Satellite discovered that the universe contained many tremendously luminous galaxies, some more than a thousand times brighter than our own Milky Way, but […]

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Researchers Study Mysterious Gamma Ray Source with No Known Counterpart

February 28, 2014

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Using the VERITAS gamma-ray telescope, astronomers studied a mysterious VHE gamma-ray source from the constellation of Cygnus that has no known counterpart at other wavelengths. Gamma-rays are the most energetic known form of electromagnetic radiation, with each gamma ray being at least one hundred thousand times more energetic than an optical light photon. The most […]

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SMA Reveals New Insights Into How Cosmic Seeds Grow Into Massive Stars

February 26, 2014

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New research from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics reveals new insights into how cosmic seeds can grow into massive stars. Cambridge, Massachusetts – New images from the Smithsonian’s Submillimeter Array (SMA) telescope provide the most detailed view yet of stellar nurseries within the Snake nebula. These images offer new insights into how cosmic seeds can […]

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