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Astronomy

Great news if you're planning a visit to exoplanets Kepler-7b or HAT-P-7b. An international team of astrophysicists has identified daily weather cycles using Kepler telescope data on these and four other far off worlds. The nightly news isn't about to start reading extrasolar weather reports, but this new knowledge will help improve our understanding of the Earth's place in the cosmic puzzle.

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NASA astronomers have used the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) to spot a glow of high-energy X-rays emanating from the heart of the Milky Way galaxy. The origin of the mysterious glow is unknown, with scientists speculating that it may be caused by dead stars as they draw material from their stellar partners. Read More
In astronomy, much like many other other aspects of life, bigger is better. Taking this adage to heart, astronomers at the University of Arizona are helping to build a virtual radio telescope the size of the Earth itself. With a resolution factor more than a thousand times greater than that of the Hubble Space Telescope, the new Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) will be used to study in fine detail the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way. Read More
A team of ESO astronomers working from the La Silla Observatory, Chile, has detected the first direct reflection of light from an exoplanet orbiting a Sun-like star. The exoplanet, 51 Pegasi b, is what is known as a hot Jupiter, a prevalent form of gas giant that sits much closer to its parent star than our own Jovian neighbor. Read More
The NASA Spitzer Space Telescope has teamed up with the Polish Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE)'s Warsaw Telescope at the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile to observe a distant gas giant located some 13,000 light-years away. The discovery will help improve our understanding of the distribution of planets throughout the Milky Way galaxy. Read More
NASA astronomers may have found a way to take more precise measurements of the distances between galaxies. Currently, astronomers use a certain type of supernova, known as a Type la supernova, to gauge the distances between galaxies and from this, the rate at which the universe is expanding. The reason that this particular breed of supernova is singled out for this purpose, is that when they explode, they give out a very similar amount of light. Read More
Friday morning bore witness to a stunning solar eclipse, as our Moon traversed the face of our parent star, blocking its light in a beautiful example of the intricate orbits negotiated by the planets and moons that make up our solar system. For those able to secure a pair of protective glasses and be charmed enough to gaze through cloud-free skies, the sight was a spectacular one – a rare meeting of two celestial bodies that have accompanied each of us through every day and night of our lives. Read More
A team of astronomers combining radio data from the Green Bank Telescope, West Virginia, and data from the radar transmitter at the National Science Foundation's Arecibo Observatory, Puerto Rico, have compiled a stunning new view of Venus. Often described as Earth's twin due to its similar proportions, capturing high quality images of the inhospitable planet has traditionally been a challenging prospect thanks to extreme atmospheric conditions. However, by combining observations from the instruments to create a more complete picture of Venus, astronomers can begin to observe how this enigmatic celestial object evolves over time. Read More
Astronomers have discovered a distant, massive and ancient black hole that calls into question current models for the early expansion of the universe. A team of scientists from China and Arizona spotted the brightest quasar from the early universe, named SDSS J0100+2802, centered on a black hole 12.8 billion light years away and as bright as 420 trillion suns. Read More
ESO's Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) instrument, which is mounted on the Very Large Telescope based in the Paranal Observatory, Chile, has been focusing in on a tiny patch in the night sky previously featured in Hubble's Deep Field South image (HDF-S). After only 27 hours of continuous observation, the cutting edge instrument has captured detailed measurements of more galaxies with more detail than ever before. Read More
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