Harvard-Smithsonian Center For Astrophysics News

Harvard Study Confirms Distance to the Pleiades Cluster

September 19, 2014

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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 […]

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Astronomers Search for Trigger of Nearby Supernova

September 15, 2014

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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 […]

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NASA’s IRIS Satellite Observes Large Solar Flare

September 12, 2014

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Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph Satellite Observes Major Solar Flare

NASA’s Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph satellite observed its largest solar flare since launching in 2013 – an X1.6 class flare. On September 10, 2014, NASA’s IRIS satellite observed an X1.6 class flare based on the high intensity of X-ray radiation. “X-class” events are the most powerful, and this one comes on the heels of another […]

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Astronomers Measure Molecular Emission and Dust Temperatures of the Pipe Nebula

September 12, 2014

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The Pipe Nebula

Astronomers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics recently completed a study of the dense cores of the Pipe Nebula, revealing that the cores are very cold, between 13 and 19 kelvin, with the coldest ones containing the most obscuring dust. The Pipe Nebula is a prominent dark molecular cloud located about 430 light-years from us. […]

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Fermi Reveals Gamma-Ray Variability of Thirteen Blazars

September 5, 2014

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Fermi Examines the Variability of Blazars

Astronomers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics used Fermi to monitor the gamma-ray variability of thirteen blazars, finding evidence that the emission arises in several different zones and/or from several mechanisms. A blazar is a galaxy whose central, supermassive black hole shines intensely as it accretes material from the surrounding region. Although black hole accretion […]

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Seismic Analysis of Young Stars Reveals Their Evolution

August 29, 2014

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Echography of Young Stars Reveals Their Evolution

A team of astronomers studying the surface vibrations in thirty-four young stars has found a clear relationship between seismic observables and evolutionary status, and in particular they are able to infer the internal stellar processes underway and the star’s corresponding evolutionary development. The evolution of a star depends crucially on its initial birth mass and […]

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A New Calibration Source for Gravitational Wave Missions

August 22, 2014

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Researchers Discover a New Gravitational Wave Source

Astronomers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics have detected a pair of white dwarf stars that orbit in about 20 minutes and that can be used as a verification source for gravitational wave missions. Einstein’s general theory of relativity predicts that accelerating masses should radiate gravity waves in a roughly similar way that accelerating electrical […]

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Interstellar Molecules May Be Silicon-Capped Hydrocarbons

August 14, 2014

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Mysterious Molecules in Space May Be Silicon Capped Hydrocarbons

New research from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics suggests that interstellar molecules may be silicon-capped hydrocarbons like SiC3H, SiC4H and SiC5H. Over the vast, empty reaches of interstellar space, countless small molecules tumble quietly though the cold vacuum. Forged in the fusion furnaces of ancient stars and ejected into space when those stars exploded, these […]

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Scientists Detect a Possible Signal from Dark Matter

August 11, 2014

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Researchers Detect a Possible Sign of Dark Matter

Using data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory, astrophysicists may have detected an emission line from a form of dark matter, the sterile neutrino, in the spectrum of galaxy clusters. Galaxies are often found in groups or clusters, the largest known aggregations of matter and dark matter. The Milky Way, for example, is a member of […]

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Spitzer/IRAC Observations of the Variability of Sagittarius A*

August 1, 2014

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Spitzer Observations of the Variability of Sagittarius A

Astronomers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics measure for the first time small fluctuations in the Sagittarius A* flux over 23 continuous hours. The center of our Milky Way galaxy is located about twenty-five thousand light years from Earth, in the direction of the constellation of Sagittarius. It is invisible to us in optical light […]

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Silicon-Capped Hydrocarbons Possible Source of Mysterious “Diffuse Interstellar Bands”

July 30, 2014

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Researchers Finger Silicon-Capped Hydrocarbons as Possible Source of Mysterious Diffuse Interstellar Bands

In a newly published study, scientists from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics reveal silicon-capped hydrocarbons as the possible source of the mysterious “diffuse interstellar bands.” Washington D.C. – Over the vast, empty reaches of interstellar space, countless small molecules tumble quietly though the cold vacuum. Forged in the fusion furnaces of ancient stars and ejected […]

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The Search for Variable Stars in Globular Cluster M4

July 25, 2014

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The Search for Variable Stars in the Core of the Galactic Globular Cluster M4

In a newly published study, astronomers detail the results of a photometric search for variable stars in the core of the globular cluster M4. A globular cluster is a roughly spherical ensemble of stars, as many as several million of them, gravitationally bound together in groups whose diameters can be as small as only tens […]

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