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Astronomy

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
The International Astronomical Union (IAU), the organization in charge of naming celestial objects, has set up a public contest that will let people all around the globe pick the names of 20 to 30 well-characterized exoplanets and their respective host stars by August next year. Read More
The ESO has given its European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) the final green light, allowing construction to go ahead at the Chilean site. The telescope is expected to take around a decade to complete, with the final installation expected to facilitate discoveries in fields such as galaxy composition and exoplanets. Read More
When you're hunting for exoplanets many light years away, the complications posed by the Earth's atmosphere can make the search incredibly difficult for ground-based telescopes. That's why space-based telescopes, such as Hubble, Spitzer and Kepler, are generally employed for the job. But now for the first time, astronomers have detected the transit of a super-Earth in front of a nearby Sun-like star, which could see ground-based telescopes more widely used in categorizing the growing number of exoplanets expected to be discovered in the next few years. Read More
Good things come in small packages – and sometimes in aerosol cans. To prove this, researchers at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California are working on technology for a future generation of space telescopes that may one day see the giant instruments replaced by swarms of particles that are deployed from a can and herded into place by laser beams. Read More
The Atacama Larger Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) has been used to study the formation of planets in a distant solar system, with the results likely to further our understanding of the process. This latest observation represents the first time the telescope has been used in its near-final configuration, and is the sharpest ever submillimeter wavelength image. Read More
Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) group of radio telescopes have discovered a carbon-based molecule with a branched structure – a common feature in molecules that are required for life to form. Contained within a giant gas cloud in the star-forming region of Sagittarius B2, the molecule of isopropyl cyanide is the first hint that other complex molecules may form in space before finding their way to the surface of planets. Read More
Astronomers from the University of Utah, using the Gemini North telescope on Hawaii’s Mauna Kea and images captured by the Hubble Space Telescope, have discovered a dwarf galaxy that is the smallest ever recorded with a supermassive black hole at its center. The galaxy, M60-UCD1, has been found to contain a black hole with a mass equivalent to 21 million times that of our own sun and whose presence may suggest that such enormous black holes could be more common than previously thought. Read More
A star accompanying a rare type of supernova in close orbit has been discovered by astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. Confirming a long-held theory that the explosion originated in a binary star arrangement, observations verify that the companion star precipitated the destruction of the aging primary star by drawing off mass until its core collapsed and triggered a supernova event. Read More
A new study has revealed that our Milky Way is a member of a group of local galaxies interconnected within a larger supercluster made up of a myriad of other galaxies, all interlinked within a tenuous web of filaments many millions of light years long. Dubbed "Laniakea" (Hawaiian for "immense sky") by astronomers working at the National Science Foundation’s (NSF's) Green Bank Telescope (GBT) and others around the world, this research defines hitherto unknown boundaries and connections in our corner of the universe. Read More
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