Harvard-Smithsonian Center For Astrophysics News

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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A New Approach in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

July 23, 2014

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A New Approach in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

Scientists are taking a new approach in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, studying exoplanet atmospheres for signs of pollution. Cambridge, Massachusetts – Humanity is on the threshold of being able to detect signs of alien life on other worlds. By studying exoplanet atmospheres, we can look for gases like oxygen and methane that only coexist […]

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Astronomers Discover Transiting Exoplanet with Longest Known Year, Kepler-421b

July 22, 2014

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Kepler-421b Transiting Exoplanet with the Longest Known Year

Astronomers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics have discovered a transiting exoplanet with the longest known year, circling its star once every 704 days. Cambridge, Massachusetts – Astronomers have discovered a transiting exoplanet with the longest known year. Kepler-421b circles its star once every 704 days. In comparison, Mars orbits our Sun once every 780 […]

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Astronomers Use Gyrochronology to Reveal the Ages of 22 Sun-Like Stars

July 10, 2014

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New Technique Measures the Age of a Star

Using a new technique for measuring the age of a star using its spin, astronomers reveal the gyrochronological ages of 22 Sun-like stars. Cambridge, Massachusetts – Defining what makes a star “Sun-like” is as difficult as defining what makes a planet “Earth-like.” A solar twin should have a temperature, mass, and spectral type similar to […]

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Gemini Reveals a Hidden Gravitational Wave Source

July 9, 2014

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Gemini Reveals a Gravitational Wave Source

Using the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph on the Gemini North telescope and the Blue Channel spectrograph on the 6.5-meter MMT Telescope, astronomers have identified one of the best (and perhaps the most powerful) gravitational wave sources. Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity predicts that accelerated masses emit gravitational waves, or ripples in space-time. Even though gravitational waves […]

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No Significant Evidence That Distant ULIRGs Are Less Involved in Mergers

June 27, 2014

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Astronomers Examine the Collision Rate of Ultra-Luminous Galaxies

Using the Hubble Space Telescope and quantitative measures of galaxy distortion, CfA astronomers reveal that there is only a slight 20% decrease in the collision rate of distant ultra-luminous infrared galaxies from that of local galaxies. Ultra-luminous infrared galaxies ((ULIRGs) are galaxies whose luminosity exceeds that of a trillion suns, By way of comparison, our […]

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