Harvard-Smithsonian Center For Astrophysics News

Hinode Satellite Views Solar Eclipse

October 28, 2014

2 Comments

Satellite Captures Footage of Solar Eclipse

The Hinode satellite was able to capture x-ray footage of last week’s solar eclipse. Cambridge, Massachusetts – The moon passed between the Earth and the sun on Thursday, October 23. While avid stargazers in North America looked up to watch the spectacle, the best vantage point was several hundred miles above the North Pole. The […]

Continue reading...

Chandra Confirms Active Galactic Nuclei Downsizing

October 27, 2014

2 Comments

Modest AGN Tend to Peak Later in Cosmic History

A new study of 209 galaxies in the early universe with X-ray bright supermassive black holes reveals that more modest active galactic nuclei (AGN) tend to peak later in cosmic history, and that obscured and unobscured AGN evolve in similar ways. Supermassive black holes containing millions or even billions of solar-masses of material are found […]

Continue reading...

Small-Scale Jets from the Solar Chromosphere Are Possible Sources of the Solar Wind

October 22, 2014

0 Comments

Astronomers Detect Sources of the Solar Wind

In a newly published study, astronomers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics reveal the detection of intermittent, small-scale jets from the solar chromosphere and their possible contribution to the stellar wind. The solar chromosphere is the region between the Sun’s surface and its hot, million-degree corona. Within this complex interface zone, only a few thousand […]

Continue reading...

New Optical Device to Speed the Search for Earth-Like Exoplanets

October 21, 2014

2 Comments

New Optical Device Should Speed the Search for Earth-Like Exoplanets

A new laser-based technology known as the green astro-comb will allow astronomers to determine whether distant exoplanets they discover are rocky Earth-like worlds or less dense gas giants like Jupiter. Astronomers Chih-Hao Li and David Phillips of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics want to rediscover Venus—that familiar, nearby planet stargazers can see with the naked […]

Continue reading...

Astronomers Discover New Clues to the Mystery of Coronal Heating

October 20, 2014

0 Comments

Tiny Nanoflares Heat the Sun's Corona

Using observations from the recently launched Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, astronomers found new clues to the mystery of coronal heating. Cambridge, Massachusetts – Why is the Sun’s million-degree corona, or outermost atmosphere, so much hotter than the Sun’s surface? This question has baffled astronomers for decades. Today, a team led by Paola Testa of the […]

Continue reading...

Herschel Observations and Simulations of the Debris Disk Around Tau Ceti

October 14, 2014

0 Comments

Herschel Views the Debris Disc of Solar Analogue Tau Ceti

Astronomers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics studied the debris disc around τ Ceti, revealing that a Jupiter-mass planet could not be present in this system – making it less than ideal as a Solar system analog. Although thousands of exoplanets and hundreds of planetary systems (stars with multiple exoplanets) are now known, astronomers still […]

Continue reading...

The Creative Engineering Behind the Giant Magellan Telescope

October 3, 2014

0 Comments

Giant Magellan Telescope

Currently under construction and on track to become operational early next decade, the Giant Magellan Telescope is pushing scientists to innovate and create new technology in their quest to see the faintest and most distant objects in the universe. On top of a flattened mountain in Chile’s Atacama Desert, one of the world’s largest telescopes […]

Continue reading...

Astronomers Explore the First Three Billion Years of Stars

October 3, 2014

1 Comment

The First Three Billion Years of Stars

Using the Hubble Space Telescope and the Spitzer Space Telescope, a team of astronomers studied the first few billion years of the universe to determine the distribution of stellar masses and the star formation rates in galaxies at epochs as early as about 800 million years after the big bang. In the last decade, the […]

Continue reading...

Architecture of Kepler’s Multi-Transiting Systems

September 30, 2014

0 Comments

Architecture of Planetary Systems

A new study details the orbital architectures of Kepler systems having multiple planet candidates, revealing 899 transiting planet candidates in 365 multiple-planet systems and providing a powerful means to study the statistical properties of planetary systems. There are 1822 confirmed exoplanets reported so far, and NASA’s Kepler satellite has found evidence for more than two […]

Continue reading...

Planetary Scientists Debate: Is Pluto a Planet?

September 23, 2014

0 Comments

Is Pluto a Planet

The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics held a new debate to discuss the planetary status of Pluto. Cambridge, Massachusetts – What is a planet? For generations of kids the answer was easy. A big ball of rock or gas that orbited our Sun, and there were nine of them in our solar system. But then astronomers […]

Continue reading...

Harvard Study Confirms Distance to the Pleiades Cluster

September 19, 2014

2 Comments

VLBI Resolution of the Pleiades Distance Controversy

Astronomers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics have completed a new distance measurement to the Pleiades Cluster, strengthening the existing astrophysical models and contradicting an earlier distance result that challenged those models. The Pleiades star cluster, a brilliant collection of several hundred stars visible in the winter sky near the constellation of Orion, has been […]

Continue reading...

Astronomers Search for Trigger of Nearby Supernova

September 15, 2014

0 Comments

Astronomers Search for Trigger of Nearby Supernova SN 2014J

New data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory is helping astronomers determine what caused SN 2014J to explode, revealing information about the environment around the star before it exploded. Cambridge, Massachusetts – New data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory offer a glimpse into the environment of a star before it exploded earlier this year, and insight […]

Continue reading...