Harvard-Smithsonian Center For Astrophysics News

Scientists Use Meteorite to Measure Ancient Solar Nebula Magnetic Fields

November 21, 2014

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Solar Nebula Magnetic Fields Recorded in the Semarkona Meteorite

Scientists from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics have succeeded in determining ancient solar nebula magnetic field strength by measuring the field recorded in chondrules from the Semarkona meteorite. Astronomical observations of young protostars indicate that early planetary systems evolved from the dust in a protoplanetary disk very quickly – in under five million years. Such […]

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The Future of Astrophysical Neutrino Measurements

November 17, 2014

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The Future of Neutrino Cosmology

An international team of scientists has published an extensive report on the future of astrophysical neutrino measurements, discussing how facilities that measure the microwave background will in the next decade also enable scientists to study the nature of neutrinos, and lead to fundamental insights into the basic laws of nature. One of the most remarkable […]

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New Research Reveals the Role of Magnetic Fields in Star Formation

November 10, 2014

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Scientists Reveal Role of Magnetic Fields in Star Formation

Using the Submillimeter Array to study the magnetic field in a massive star cluster, astronomers were able to determine the properties of the magnetic field and the role they play in star formation. Massive stars tend to form in clusters as the gas and dust in molecular clouds collapses and fragments under the influence of […]

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Heritage of Water Ice in the Solar System

November 3, 2014

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Water in Our Solar System Derives in Large Part from Interstellar Water

New research from astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics reveals that water in our solar system almost certainly derives in large part from interstellar water, rather than forming locally, and that consequently other stellar systems would be expected to contain water as well. Water, the key ingredient for life, is not only abundant on […]

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Hinode Satellite Views Solar Eclipse

October 28, 2014

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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 […]

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Chandra Confirms Active Galactic Nuclei Downsizing

October 27, 2014

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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 […]

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

October 22, 2014

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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 […]

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

October 21, 2014

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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 […]

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Astronomers Discover New Clues to the Mystery of Coronal Heating

October 20, 2014

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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 […]

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Herschel Observations and Simulations of the Debris Disk Around Tau Ceti

October 14, 2014

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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 […]

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The Creative Engineering Behind the Giant Magellan Telescope

October 3, 2014

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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 […]

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Astronomers Explore the First Three Billion Years of Stars

October 3, 2014

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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 […]

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Architecture of Kepler’s Multi-Transiting Systems

September 30, 2014

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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 […]

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