Heavens

Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to study some of the oldest and faintest stars in the globular cluster NGC 6752 have made an unexpected finding. They discovered a dwarf galaxy in our cosmic backyard, only 30 million light-years away. The finding is reported in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters.

For many years, scientists assumed the aurora seen around the north pole was identical to the aurora seen around the south pole. The poles are connected by magnetic field lines and auroral displays are caused by charged particles streaming along these field lines. Because the charged particles follow these field lines, it would make sense that the auroras would be mirror images of each other.

The strange orbits of some objects in the farthest reaches of our solar system, hypothesised by some astronomers to be shaped by an unknown ninth planet, can instead be explained by the combined gravitational force of small objects orbiting the Sun beyond Neptune, say researchers.

A team of scientists has, for the first time, used a single, cohesive computer model to simulate the entire life cycle of a solar flare: from the buildup of energy thousands of kilometers below the solar surface, to the emergence of tangled magnetic field lines, to the explosive release of energy in a brilliant flash.

EVANSTON, Ill. --- A Northwestern University-led international team is getting closer to understanding the mysteriously bright object that burst in the northern sky this summer.

On June 17, the ATLAS survey's twin telescopes in Hawaii found a spectacularly bright anomaly 200 million light years away in the Hercules constellation. Dubbed AT2018cow or "The Cow," the object quickly flared up, then vanished almost as quickly.

An unusual supernova studied by multiple telescopes, including the SOAR telescope and other telescopes at the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) and NSF's Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO), is thought to herald the birth of a new black hole or neutron star, caught at the exact moment of its creation. Observations made with facilities ranging from X-rays to optical and radio wavelengths were used to understand this remarkable event.

Maunakea, Hawaii - A Northwestern University-led international team of astronomers is getting closer to understanding the mysterious bright object that burst in the northern sky this summer, dubbed AT2018cow or 'The Cow.'

With the help of W. M. Keck Observatory on Maunakea, Hawaii and the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy's ATLAS twin telescopes, the multi-institutional team now has evidence that they likely captured the exact moment a star collapsed to form a compact object, such as a black hole or neutron star.

Observations from Gemini Observatory identify a key fingerprint of an extremely distant quasar, allowing astronomers to sample light emitted from the dawn of time. Astronomers happened upon this deep glimpse into space and time thanks to an unremarkable foreground galaxy acting as a gravitational lens, which magnified the quasar's ancient light. The Gemini observations provide critical pieces of the puzzle in confirming this object as the brightest appearing quasar so early in the history of the Universe, raising hopes that more sources like this will be found.

The streams of electromagnetic energy released from a star destroyed by the tidal forces of a supermassive black hole nearly 290 million light years away encode valuable information about the physical properties of black holes, a new study finds. The results provide a new way to identify types of black holes that have been challenging to observe using other means. It's thought that a black hole lies at the center of nearly all massive galaxies. Most are inactive and do not produce any observable electromagnetic radiation, making them difficult to detect.

Maunakea, Hawaii - Astronomers have found a new exoplanet that could alter the standing theory of planet formation. With a mass that's between that of Neptune and Saturn, and its location beyond the "snow line" of its host star, an alien world of this scale was supposed to be rare.

Aparna Bhattacharya, a postdoctoral researcher from the University of Maryland and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), led the team that made the discovery, which was announced today during a press conference at the 233rd Meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle.

New research led by astrophysicists at Durham University, UK, predicts that the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) could hit the Milky Way in two billion years' time.

The collision could occur much earlier than the predicted impact between the Milky Way and another neighbouring galaxy, Andromeda, which scientists say will hit our galaxy in eight billion years.

The catastrophic coming together with the Large Magellanic Cloud could wake up our galaxy's dormant black hole, which would begin devouring surrounding gas and increase in size by up to ten times.

In 1973, Russian physicist A.B. Migdal predicted the phenomenon of pion condensation above a critical, extremely high--several times higher than that for normal matter-- nuclear density. Although this condensation has never been observed, it is expected to play a key role in the rapid cooling process of the core of neutron stars. These city-size heavy stellar objects are so dense that on Earth, one teaspoonful would weigh a billion tons.

When stars collapse, they can create black holes, which are everywhere throughout the universe and therefore important to be studied. Black holes are mysterious objects with an outer edge called an event horizon, which traps everything including light. Einstein's theory of general relativity predicted that once an object falls inside an event horizon, it ends up at the center of the black hole called a singularity where it is completely crushed. At this point of singularity, gravitational attraction is infinite and all known laws of physics break down including Einstein's theory.

Astronomers have captured one of the most detailed views of a young star taken to date, and revealed an unexpected companion in orbit around it.

While observing the young star, astronomers led by Dr John Ilee from the University of Leeds discovered it was not in fact one star, but two.

The main object, referred to as MM 1a, is a young massive star surrounded by a rotating disc of gas and dust that was the focus of the scientists' original investigation.

Although helium is a rare element on Earth, it is ubiquitous in the Universe. It is, after hydrogen, the main component of stars and gaseous giant planets. Despite its abundance, helium was only detected recently in the atmosphere of a gaseous giant by an international team including astronomers from the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland. The team, this time led by Genevan researchers, has observed in detail and for the first time how this gas escapes from the overheated atmosphere of an exoplanet, literally inflated with helium. The results are published in Science.