Heavens

Based on preliminary results from a new Gemini Observatory survey of 531 stars with the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI), it appears more and more likely that large planets and brown dwarfs have very different roots.

Nestled within this field of bright foreground stars lies ESO 495-21, a tiny galaxy with a big heart. ESO 495-21 may be just 3000 light-years across, but that is not stopping the galaxy from furiously forming huge numbers of stars. It may also host a supermassive black hole; this is unusual for a galaxy of its size, and may provide intriguing hints as to how galaxies form and evolve.

That gold on your ring finger is stellar - and not just in a complimentary way.

In a finding that may overthrow our understanding of where Earth's heavy elements such as gold and platinum come from, new research by a University of Guelph physicist suggests that most of them were spewed from a largely overlooked kind of star explosion far away in space and time from our planet.

As planets form in the swirling gas and dust around young stars, there seems to be a sweet spot where most of the large, Jupiter-like gas giants congregate, centered around the orbit where Jupiter sits today in our own solar system.

The location of this sweet spot is between 3 and 10 times the distance Earth sits from our sun (3-10 astronomical units, or AU). Jupiter is 5.2 AU from our sun.

Over the past four years, an instrument attached to a telescope in the Chilean Andes - known as the Gemini Planet Imager - has set its gaze on 531 stars in search of new planets. The team, led by Stanford University, is now releasing initial findings from the first half of the survey, published June 12 in The Astronomical Journal.

The survey imaged six planets and three brown dwarfs orbiting these 300 stars and offered new details about Jupiter-like planets, which could influence theories about how Earth formed and became habitable.

MASCARA-2B/KELT-20b is an ultra hot Jupiter. It belongs to a new group of exoplanets, the hottest known until now, which can reach temperatures at the surface of over 2,000 K. The reason for its high temperature is the proximity of its orbit around its host star, causing it to receive a large flux of radiation in the upper layers of its atmosphere.

Astronomers probing the edges of the Milky Way have in recent years observed some of the most brilliant pyrotechnic displays in the galaxy: superflares.

These events occur when stars, for reasons that scientists still don't understand, eject huge bursts of energy that can be seen from hundreds of light years away. Until recently, researchers assumed that such explosions occurred mostly on stars that, unlike Earth's, were young and active.

Researchers at CU Boulder have discovered hints that humanity's favorite star may have a dual personality, with intriguing discrepancies in its magnetic fields that could hold clues to the sun's own "internal clock."

A massive 'hit-and-run' collision profoundly impacted the evolutionary history of Vesta, the brightest asteroid visible from Earth. This finding, by a team of researchers from Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan's National Institute of Polar Research and ETH Zurich, Switzerland, deepens our understanding of protoplanet formation more than 4.5 billion years ago, in the early infancy of the Solar System.

Hundreds of thousands of volunteers have helped to overturn almost a century of galaxy classification, in a new study using data from the longstanding Galaxy Zoo project. The new investigation, published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, uses classifications of over 6000 galaxies to reveal that "well known" correlations between different features are not found in this large and complete sample.

The Solar System's second largest planet both in mass and size, Saturn is best known for its rings. These are divided by a wide band, the Cassini Division, whose formation was poorly understood until very recently. Now, researchers* from the CNRS, the Paris Observatory - PSL and the University of Franche-Comté have shown that Mimas, one of Saturn's moons, acted as a kind of remote snowplough, pushing apart the ice particles that make up the rings.

ANN ARBOR--If astronomers want to learn about how supermassive black holes form, they have to start small--really small, astronomically speaking.

In fact, a team including University of Michigan astronomer Elena Gallo has discovered that a black hole at the center of a nearby dwarf galaxy, called NGC 4395, is about 40 times smaller than previously thought. Their findings are published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

Newly-built planet-finding instrument installed on Very Large Telescope, Chile, begins 100-hour observation of nearby stars Alpha Centauri A and B, aiming to be first to directly image a habitable exoplanet

Breakthrough Watch, the global astronomical program looking for Earth-like planets around nearby stars, and the European Southern Observatory (ESO), Europe's foremost intergovernmental astronomical organisation, today announced "first light" on a newly-built planet-finding instrument at ESO's Very Large Telescope in the Atacama Desert, Chile.

CI Tau b is a paradoxical planet, but new research about its mass, brightness and the carbon monoxide in its atmosphere is starting to answer questions about how a planet so large could have formed around a star that's only 2 million years old.

A mysterious large mass of material has been discovered beneath the largest crater in our solar system -- the Moon's South Pole-Aitken basin -- and may contain metal from the asteroid that crashed into the Moon and formed the crater, according to a Baylor University study.

"Imagine taking a pile of metal five times larger than the Big Island of Hawaii and burying it underground. That's roughly how much unexpected mass we detected," said lead author Peter B. James,