The construction of the largest optical telescope ever built has moved
one step closer today, with US$500 million in funding now committed from
international partners. Set to be the world's biggest and most
powerful, the Giant Magellan Telescope
is constructed from seven huge
mirrors that will span a total of 25.4 meters,
bringing in six times more light than any other large telescope. It is
also claimed that the instrument will be able to resolve images up to
ten times more clearly than the space-based Hubble telescope.
Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) radio telescope in the Western Australia
desert, a Sydney University student, Cleo Loi, has discovered enormous plasma pipes in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. Thought to be responsible
for possible radio interference with satellite navigation systems, the presence of these objects has been predicted for over 60 years, but never before seen. By imaginatively using the radio telescope to observe
in 3D, Loi was able to image large areas of the
sky using the fast photography capabilities of the MWA to produce a movie
that shows the motions of the plasma in real-time.
A fresh study examining data from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) spacecraft has led to to the discovery of the brightest galaxy in the universe. The galaxy, dubbed WISE J224607.57-052635.0, is believed to contain in excess of 300 trillion stars, and has given rise to a new group of astronomical objects – Extremely Luminous Infrared Galaxies, or ELIRGs.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.