Heavens

Astrophysicists from the University of Surrey and the University of Edinburgh have created a new method to measure the amount of dark matter at the centre of tiny "dwarf" galaxies.

Dark matter makes up most of the mass of the Universe, yet it remains elusive. Depending on its properties, it can be densely concentrated at the centres of galaxies, or more smoothly distributed over larger scales. By comparing the distribution of dark matter in galaxies with detailed models, researchers can test or rule out different dark matter candidates.

Astronomers are back in the dark about what dark matter might be, after new observations showed the mysterious substance may not be interacting with forces other than gravity after all. Dr Andrew Robertson of Durham University will today (Friday 6 April) present the new results at the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science in Liverpool.

Three years ago, a Durham-led international team of researchers thought they had made a breakthrough in ultimately identifying what dark matter is.

Despite their appearance solar tornadoes are not rotating after all, according to a European team of scientists. A new analysis of these gigantic structures, each one several times the size of the Earth, indicates that they may have been misnamed because scientists have so far only been able to observe them using 2-dimensional images.

A study of the evolution of magnetic fields inside neutron stars shows that instabilities can create intense magnetic hot spots that survive for millions of years, even after the star's overall magnetic field has decayed significantly. The results will be presented by Dr Konstantinos Gourgouliatos of Durham University at the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science (EWASS) in Liverpool on Wednesday, 4th April.

The first large-scale age-map of the Milky Way shows that a period of star formation lasting around 4 billion years created the complex structure at the heart of our galaxy. The results will be presented by Marina Rejkuba at the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science (EWASS) in Liverpool on Tuesday, 3rd April.

Maunakea, Hawaii - Galaxies and dark matter go hand in hand; you typically don't find one without the other. So when researchers uncovered a galaxy, known as NGC1052-DF2, that is almost completely devoid of the stuff, they were shocked.

Astronomers have discovered that all galaxies rotate once every billion years, no matter how big they are.

The Earth spinning around on its axis once gives us the length of a day, and a complete orbit of the Earth around the Sun gives us a year.

"It's not Swiss watch precision," said Professor Gerhardt Meurer from the UWA node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR).

Scientists report the existence of 15 new planets -- including one 'super-Earth' that could harbor liquid water -- orbiting small, cool stars near our solar system. These stars, known as red dwarfs[1], are of enormous interest for studies of planetary formation and evolution.

A research team led by Teruyuki Hirano of Tokyo Institute of Technology's Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences has validated 15 exoplanets[2] orbiting red dwarf systems.

The more solar observatories, the merrier: Scientists have developed new models to see how shocks associated with coronal mass ejections, or CMEs, propagate from the Sun -- an effort made possible only by combining data from three NASA satellites to produce a much more robust mapping of a CME than any one could do alone.

This spectacular and unusual image shows part of the famous Orion Nebula, a star formation region lying about 1350 light-years from Earth.