Harvard-Smithsonian Center For Astrophysics News

New Study Confirms the Ideas About Galaxy Cluster Evolution

January 20, 2017

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Massive Galaxy Cluster IDCS J1426.5+3508

A new millimeter wavelength study of massive clusters from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics has found good agreement with current ideas about galaxy cluster evolution. Galaxy clusters have long been recognized as important laboratories for the study of galaxy formation and evolution. The advent of the new generation of millimeter and submillimeter wave survey telescopes, […]

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A Catalog of Kepler Habitable Zone Exoplanet Candidates

January 18, 2017

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Catalog of Habitable Zone Exoplanets

A newly published study provides a list of habitable zone exoplanet candidates from the Kepler Data Release 24 Q1-Q17 data vetting process. In our solar system, the Earth is cozily situated in the middle of the habitable zone which, depending on the model, extends roughly from Venus to Mars. The Kepler mission has as one […]

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Astronomers Discover a Cosmic Particle Accelerator in Abell 3411 and 3412

January 13, 2017

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Astronomers Discover Powerful Cosmic Double Whammy

Using data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and several other telescopes, a team of astronomers has discovered a cosmic one-two punch unlike any ever seen before. The phenomena occurred in a pair of colliding galaxy clusters called Abell 3411 and Abell 3412. This result shows that an eruption from a supermassive black hole combined with […]

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Astronomers Reveal Farthest Stars in Milky Way Were Ripped from Another Galaxy

January 11, 2017

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Farthest Stars in Milky Way Might Be Ripped from Another Galaxy

New research reveals that five of the 11 farthest known stars in our galaxy were ripped from another galaxy – the Sagittarius dwarf. The 11 farthest known stars in our galaxy are located about 300,000 light-years from Earth, well outside the Milky Way’s spiral disk. New research by Harvard astronomers shows that half of those […]

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Astronomers Reveal Powerful Outflows in Ultraluminous Galaxies

January 10, 2017

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Molecular Outflows in Local ULIRGs

A new study from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics finds that ultra-luminous galaxies can expel as much as a thousand solar-masses per year. Galaxies evolve over billions of years in part through the activity of star formation and their supermassive nuclear black holes, and also by mergers with other galaxies. Some features of galaxies, in […]

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Astronomers Release the Largest Digital Sky Survey

December 27, 2016

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Pan-STARRS Releases Largest Digital Sky Survey

The Pan-STARRS project is publicly releasing the world’s largest digital sky survey from the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI). “The Pan-STARRS1 Surveys allow anyone to access millions of images and use the database and catalogs containing precision measurements of billions of stars and galaxies,” said Dr. Ken Chambers, Director of the Pan-STARRS Observatories. “Pan-STARRS has […]

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Antarctic Site Dome A Promises to Open a New Window on the Cosmos

December 13, 2016

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Antarctic Site Promises to Open a New Window on the Cosmos

Researchers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics are eyeing a new location to study the universe at little-explored terahertz radio frequencies. Antarctica might be one of the most inhospitable regions on the planet, but it is a mecca for astronomers. Its cold, dry air enables observations that can’t be done elsewhere on Earth. The South […]

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Kepler Reveals Solar-Like Oscillations in Other Stars

December 9, 2016

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Asteroseismology of the Hyades with K2

Using the refurbished Kepler Space Telescope, astronomers studied solar-like oscillations in the Hyades open star cluster in Taurus. Our Sun vibrates due to pressure waves generated by turbulence in its upper layers (the layers dominated by convective gas motions). Helioseismology is the name given to the study of these oscillations, which can shed light on […]

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Astronomers Reveal Colliding Galaxy Clusters

December 2, 2016

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Galaxy 3C438

A team of astronomers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics have concluded that the hot gas in the cluster around galaxy 3C438 is the result of a collision between two clusters of galaxies. Galaxy clusters contain a few to thousands of galaxies and are the largest bound structures in the Universe. Most galaxies are members […]

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NASA’s Chandra Views a Stellar Circle of Life, Cygnus X-3

November 28, 2016

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Chandra Views a Stellar Circle of Life

A newly published study reveals that the supernova explosion that formed either the black hole or neutron star in Cygnus X-3 kicked the binary system away from its original birthplace, estimating that Cygnus X-3 must have been thrown out at speeds between 400,000 and 2 million miles per hour. A snapshot of the stellar life […]

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No Change in Global Star Formation Process

November 18, 2016

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Star Formation in the Early Universe

New research of the gas content in galaxies so distant their light has been traveling for about ten billion years suggests that the processes converting gas into stars is about the same back then as in the local universe. The first stars appeared about one hundred million years after the big bang, and ever since […]

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GASS 3505: A Hydrogen Rich, Passive Galaxy

November 15, 2016

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Hydrogen Rich Passive Galaxy GASS-3505

New research from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics reveals that the star formation in GASS 3505 is very weak, less than about 0.1 solar-masses per year. Cold gas in the form of neutral hydrogen atoms provides the reservoir for star formation in galaxies from the distant to the nearby Universe. Understanding how it accretes onto […]

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Astronomers Study the Pulsar Wind Nebula Created by PSR B0355+54

November 7, 2016

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Pulsar Wind Nebulae

A team of astronomers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics has modeled the detailed shape of the pulsar wind nebula created by PSR B0355+54. Neutron stars are the detritus of supernova explosions, with masses between one and several suns and diameters only tens of kilometers across. A pulsar is a spinning neutron star with a […]

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Slow-Blue Nuclear Hypervariables in PanSTARRS-1

November 1, 2016

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Nuclear Hypervariables in PanSTARRS-1

Astronomers have used a sky survey to identify a class of blue, hypervariable galaxies; the origin of the variability is uncertain but might in some cases be due to microlensing. Extreme variability in the intensity of the optical light of galaxies, by factors of two or more, is of great interest to astronomers. It can […]

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Hotspots in Active Galactic Nucleus Cygnus A

October 21, 2016

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Hotspots in an Active Galactic Nucleus

Astronomers used the Low Frequency Array radio telescope to obtain high spatial resolution images of the hotspots in Cygnus A, providing the first direct evidence that the spectral shape difference previously inferred is real. The nucleus of a so-called “active” galaxy contains a massive black hole that is vigorously accreting material. As a result, the […]

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Astronomers Study a Star’s Environment from Light Curves

October 17, 2016

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Studying a Star's Environment from Light Curves

Using the ALMA telescopes, astronomers discovered a circumstellar disk around the star EPIC 204278916 and offer several explanations for the dips including that they are caused by clumps of material in the warped inner portion of the disk. There are now about 2700 confirmed exoplanets discovered by transiting techniques including those used with the Kepler […]

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Astronomers Reveal That Proxima Centauri Might Be More Sunlike Than Previously Thought

October 13, 2016

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Proxima Centauri Might Be More Sunlike Than Previously Thought

New research from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics reveals that the nearby star Proxima Centauri shows signs of a 7-year activity cycle. In August astronomers announced that the nearby star Proxima Centauri hosts an Earth-sized planet (called Proxima b) in its habitable zone. At first glance, Proxima Centauri seems nothing like our Sun. It’s a […]

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Astronomers Take First Step Toward Uncovering Nascent Galaxies in the Early Universe

October 10, 2016

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Scientists Study the Epoch of Reionization

In preparation for looking for the first generation of galaxies, the facility has published the first catalog of extragalactic sources of contamination in one of the fields of view. The epoch when the very first stars appeared is a key period of cosmic history. These stars began the manufacture of the chemical elements (those heavier […]

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