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Astronomy

An artist's impression of the magnetar in the Westerlund 1 star cluster (Image: ESO/L. Cal...

Magnetars are extremely dense and highly magnetic neutron stars that can form when a star goes supernova. They are extremely rare, and until now, it has been difficult to determine how and why they form. However, thanks to new data collected by the Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile, astronomers believe they have finally solved the great mystery.  Read More

Scanning Electron Microscope image of average nanograins produced in the COSmIC (Image: NA...

Carl Sagan once said, “We are made of starstuff.” Unfortunately, he was a bit vague about what this starstuff actually is. To help answer that question, scientists at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California have developed a way of recreating the dust and gas found around dying red giant stars that eventually become planet-forming interstellar dust.  Read More

Illustris simulation still frame centered on the most massive galaxy cluster existing toda...

As you might expect, the scale and complexities of the underlying physics means creating a realistic virtual universe would require some hefty computing power. A team of astronomers is claiming to have achieved this impressive feat using a computer simulation called "Illustris," which took five years to program and, for the first time, can recreate the evolution of the Universe in high fidelity.  Read More

A look at some of the most impressive images from the European Southern Observatory, captu...

Though we’re only a little over a third of the way through the year, the European Southern Observatory (ESO) has already produced some spectacular new images of what’s out there in the Universe. From a rare yellow hypergiant star to a celestial trick of the light, we take a look at five of the most impressive ESO snaps of the year so far.  Read More

The 20-gigapixel panorama is compiled from more than 2 million individual snaps (Image: NA...

Images from the NASA Spitzer Space Telescope have been used to create a staggering 20-gigapixel panorama, encompassing more than half of the galaxy’s stars. The vista was created from more than a decade’s worth of infrared images, and will be used to help further our understanding of the structure and formation of stars in the Milky Way.  Read More

The intensity of the asteroid's impact on the lunar surface was sufficient to be seen with...

A meter-wide (3 ft) asteroid impacted the Moon's surface September 11, 2013, producing a bright explosion and digging a new crater about 40 meters (130 ft) in diameter. The video of the event shows a bright flash of light against the stark blackness of the Moon's dark side. Similar in brilliance to the brightest stars in the Big Dipper, the asteroid impact is the largest confirmed impact on the Moon since continuous monitoring started some 15 years ago.  Read More

The ANU SkyMapper telescope at the Siding Spring Observatory has discovered the oldest kno...

A team of astronomers at The Australian National University (ANU) working on a five-year project to produce the first comprehensive digital survey of the southern sky has discovered the oldest known star in the Universe. Just a 6,000 light year astronomical hop, skip and jump from Earth, the ancient star formed shortly after the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago.  Read More

Supernova 2014J (red circle and arrow) and the starburst galaxy M82 (Photo: NASA/Swift/P. ...

A cloudy night in London led to the discovery of the 21st Century's brightest supernova to date. The new supernova 2014J, the brightest since 1993, is located in the galaxy M82. This Type-Ia supernova has just reached its peak brightness of magnitude 10.6. M82 lies at a distance of only about 12 million light years, which explains the brightness of 2014J in our skies. 2014J is bright enough to be seen in small telescopes or perhaps in (very) large binoculars. We'll tell you how to find it.  Read More

The Alpha Centauri system and hypothetical planet (Image: European Southern Observatory)

Since Earth is the only known inhabited planet and we happen to live here, it’s only natural to regard it as the ideal place for life to exist, and to assume that another life-bearing planet would be fairly similar. However, that is not the opinion of scientists René Heller and John Armstrong who contend that there might be a planet even more suitable for life than Earth 4.3 light years away orbiting the star Alpha Centauri B.  Read More

The AWB OneSky is aimed at beginners (Photo: Astronomers Without Borders)

Astronomers Without Borders (AWB) is a nonprofit organization aimed at knocking down national and cultural boundaries by encouraging a common interest in astronomy. Along with their message that we all share one sky, AWB is now selling a neat little grab-n-go telescope called OneSky. The scope is perfectly suited for a quick look at the heavens from the backyard, as well as for throwing in the car before heading to darker skies. I'm reviewing this scope, and it is a prize for the price.  Read More

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