Heavens

Ever since the astronomer Edwin Hubble demonstrated that the further apart two galaxies are, the faster they move away from each other, researchers have measured the expansion rate of the Universe (the Hubble constant) and the history of this expansion. Recently, a new puzzle has emerged, as there seems to be a discrepancy between measurements of this expansion using radiation in the early Universe and using nearby objects.

Washington, DC--New work led by Carnegie's Matt Clement reveals the likely original locations of Saturn and Jupiter. These findings refine our understanding of the forces that determined our Solar System's unusual architecture, including the ejection of an additional planet between Saturn and Uranus, ensuring that only small, rocky planets, like Earth, formed inward of Jupiter.

An international research collaboration including Northwestern University astronomers has produced the most detailed family portrait of black holes to date, offering new clues as to how black holes form. An intense analysis of the most recent gravitational-wave data available led to the rich portrait as well as multiple tests of Einstein's theory of general relativity. (The theory passed each test.)

The gravitational force in the Universe under which it has evolved from a state almost uniform at the Big Bang until now, when matter is concentrated in galaxies, stars and planets, is provided by what is termed 'dark matter'. But in spite of the essential role that this extra material plays, we know almost nothing about its nature, behaviour and composition, which is one of the basic problems of modern physics.

Only a small fraction of the galaxies emits gamma rays, which is the most extreme form of light. Astronomers believe that these highly energetic photons originate from the vicinity of a supermassive black hole residing at the centers of these galaxies. When this happens, they are known as active galaxies. The black hole swallows matter from its surroundings and emits jets or, in other words, collimated streams of matter and radiation. Few of these active galaxies (less than 1%) have their jets pointing by chance toward Earth.

Massive galaxies were already much more mature in the early universe than previously expected. This was shown by an international team of astronomers who studied 118 distant galaxies with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA).

When the Universe was only a tenth of its current age its galaxies experienced a growth spurt. It was this period that the scientists in the ALPINE project (1) focused on when they used ESO's ALMA (2) telescope to carry out the first ever large survey of distant galaxies. To their surprise, these galaxies observed in the early stages of their life were far more mature than expected. Their work is the subject of a series of articles published on 27 October 2020 in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, signed among others by members of the CNRS and Aix-Marseille Université (3).

For the first time, over 250 million stars in our galaxy's bulge have been surveyed in near-ultraviolet, optical, and near-infrared light, opening the door for astronomers to reexamine key questions about the Milky Way's formation and history. Using ultraviolet data, and with 450,000 individual images, the team was able to measure the chemical composition of tens of thousands of stars spanning a large area of the bulge. The vast dataset can be explored in spectacular detail in this image.

SAN ANTONIO -- Oct. 26, 2020 -- A new study authored by Southwest Research Insti-tute planetary scientist Dr. Tracy Becker discusses several new views of the asteroid 16 Psyche, including the first ultraviolet observations. The study, which was published today in The Planetary Science Journal and presented at the virtual meeting of the American Astronomical Society's Division for Planetary Sciences, paints a clearer view of the asteroid than was previously available.

LAWRENCE -- A team led by an astronomer from the University of Kansas has crunched data from NASA's TESS and Spitzer space telescopes to portray for the first time the atmosphere of a highly unusual kind of exoplanet dubbed a "hot Neptune."

No one has yet found the first stars.

They're hypothesized to have formed about 100 million years after the Big Bang out of universal darkness from the primordial gases of hydrogen, helium, and trace light metals. These gases cooled, collapsed, and ignited into stars up to 1,000 times more massive than our sun. The bigger the star, the faster they burn out. The first stars probably only lived a few million years, a drop in the bucket of the age of the universe, at about 13.8 billion years. They're unlikely to ever be observed, lost to the mists of time.

ITHACA, N.Y. - Three decades after Cornell astronomer Carl Sagan suggested that Voyager 1 snap Earth's picture from billions of miles away - resulting in the iconic Pale Blue Dot photograph - two astronomers now offer another unique cosmic perspective: Some exoplanets - planets from beyond our own solar system - have a direct line of sight to observe Earth's biological qualities from far, far away.

Light from distant galaxies reveals important information about the nature of the universe and allows scientists to develop high-precision models of the history, evolution and structure of the cosmos.

The gravity associated with massive pockets of dark matter that lie between Earth and these galaxies, however, plays havoc with those galactic light signals. Gravity distorts galaxies' light -- a process called gravitational lensing -- and also slightly aligns the galaxies physically, resulting in additional gravitational lensing light signals that contaminate the true data.

Red dwarfs are the coolest kind of star. As such, they potentially allow liquid water to exist on planets that are quite close to them. In the search for habitable worlds beyond the borders of our solar system, this is a big advantage: the distance between an exoplanet and its star is a crucial factor for its detection. The closer the two are, the higher the chance that astronomers can detect the planet from Earth.

On the outskirts of the nearby Andromeda Galaxy, researchers have unexpectedly discovered a globular cluster (GC) - a massive congregation of relic stars - with a very low abundance of chemical elements heavier than hydrogen and helium (known as its metallicity), according to a new study. The GC, designated RBC EXT8, has 800 times lower abundance of these elements than the Sun, below a previously-observed limit, challenging the notion that massive GCs could not have formed at such low metallicities.