Heavens

Astronomers may have finally uncovered the long-sought progenitor to a specific type of exploding star by sifting through NASA Hubble Space Telescope archival data. The supernova, called a Type Ic, is thought to detonate after its massive star has shed or been stripped of its outer layers of hydrogen and helium.

Scientists have discovered something amazing.

In a cluster of some of the most massive and luminous stars in our galaxy, about 5,000 light years from Earth, astronomers detected particles being accelerated by a rapidly rotating neutron star as it passed by the massive star it orbits only once every 50 years.

The discovery is extremely rare, according to University of Delaware astrophysicist Jamie Holder and doctoral student Tyler Williamson, who were part of the international team that documented the occurrence.

For the first time astronomers have detected gravitational waves from a merged, hyper-massive neutron star. The scientists, Maurice van Putten of Sejong University in South Korea, and Massimo della Valle of the Osservatorio Astronomico de Capodimonte in Italy, publish their results in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters.

For the first time, a team of astronomers has observed several pairs of galaxies in the final stages of merging together into single, larger galaxies. Peering through thick walls of gas and dust surrounding the merging galaxies' messy cores, the research team captured pairs of supermassive black holes--each of which once occupied the center of one of the two original smaller galaxies--drawing closer together before they coalescence into one giant black hole.

Observations by ALMA and data from the MUSE spectrograph on ESO's VLT have revealed a colossal fountain of molecular gas powered by a black hole in the brightest galaxy of the Abell 2597 cluster -- the full galactic cycle of inflow and outflow powering this vast cosmic fountain has never before been observed in one system.

About 550 light-years away in the constellation of Cassiopeia lies IC 63, a stunning and slightly eerie nebula. Also known as the ghost of Cassiopeia, IC 63 is being shaped by radiation from a nearby unpredictably variable star, Gamma Cassiopeiae, which is slowly eroding away the ghostly cloud of dust and gas. This celestial ghost makes the perfect backdrop for the upcoming feast of All Hallow's Eve -- better known as Halloween.

New research, published today (Wednesday 24 October) in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, has found evidence for a large number of double supermassive black holes, likely precursors of gigantic black hole merging events. This confirms the current understanding of cosmological evolution - that galaxies and their associated black holes merge over time, forming bigger and bigger galaxies and black holes.

Twenty years ago, scientists were shocked to realize that our universe is not only expanding, but that it's expanding fasterover time.

Pinning down the exact rate of expansion, called the Hubble constant after famed astronomer and UChicago alumnus Edwin Hubble, has been surprisingly difficult. Since then scientists have used two methods to calculate the value, and they spit out distressingly different results. But last year's surprising capture of gravitational waves radiating from a neutron star collision offered a third way to calculate the Hubble constant.

On October 16, 2017, an international group of astronomers and physicists excitedly reported the first simultaneous detection of light and gravitational waves from the same source--a merger of two neutron stars. Now, a team that includes several University of Maryland astronomers has identified a direct relative of that historic event.

For three and a half centuries, astronomers have pondered a mystery: What did the French monk and astronomer Père Dom Anthelme see when he described a star that burst into view in June 1670, just below the head of the constellation Cygnus, the swan?