Heavens

In the faint southern constellation of Antlia the careful observer with binoculars will spot a very red star, which varies slightly in brightness from week to week. This very unusual star is called U Antliae and new observations with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA - http://www.eso.org/public/teles-instr/alma/) are revealing a remarkably thin spherical shell around it.

Cassiopeia A is a famous supernova remnant, the product of a gigantic explosion of a massive star about 350 years ago. Although discovered in radio observations 50 years ago, now we know that its emitted radiation spans from radio through high-energy gamma rays. It is also one of the few remnants for which the birth date and the type of supernova are known. It was a type IIb, the result of a core collapse supernova explosion.

Astrophysicists from Moscow State University have found a new way to estimate the mass of supermassive black holes outside our galaxy, even if these holes are barely detectable. The results of the study were published in the Astronomy and Astrophysics journal.

Star formation: Three scientists at Niels Bohr Institute (NBI), University of Copenhagen, have carried out extensive computer simulations related to star formation. They conclude that the present idealized models are lacking when it comes to describing details in the star formation process. "Hopefully our results can also help shed more light on planet formation", says Michael Küffmeier, astrophysicist and head of the research team.

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has observed a planet outside our solar system that looks as black as fresh asphalt because it eats light rather than reflecting it back into space. This light-eating prowess is due to the planet's unique capability to trap at least 94 percent of the visible starlight falling into its atmosphere.

Astronomers have discovered that the well-studied exoplanet WASP-12b reflects almost no light, making it appear essentially pitch black. This discovery sheds new light on the atmospheric composition of the planet and also refutes previous hypotheses about WASP-12b's atmosphere. The results are also in stark contrast to observations of another similarly sized exoplanet.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Identical twins are similar to each other in many ways, but they have different experiences, friends, and lifestyles.

This concept is played out on a cosmological scale by galaxies. Two galaxies that appear at first glance to be very similar and effectively identical can have inner regions rotating at very different rates - the galactic analog of twins with different lifestyles.

The accelerating expansion of the Universe may not be real, but could just be an apparent effect, according to new research published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The new study--by a group at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand--finds the fit of Type Ia supernovae to a model universe with no dark energy to be very slightly better than the fit to the standard dark energy model.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] -- In research that may prove useful to future lunar explorers, scientists from Brown University have created the first quantitative map of water and its chemical building blocks trapped in the uppermost portion of the Moon's soil.

A team of astronomers led by Elyar Sedaghati, an ESO fellow and recent graduate of TU Berlin, has examined the atmosphere of the exoplanet [WASP-19b] in greater detail than ever before. This remarkable planet has about the same mass as Jupiter, but is so close to its parent star that it completes an orbit in just 19 hours and its atmosphere is estimated to have a temperature of about 2000 degrees Celsius.