Star formation

Astronomers from the European Southern Observatory have used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to observe the protoplanetary disk surrounding a young star, revealing the presence of complex organic molecules that represent the building blocks of life. The findings mark the first time that such a discovery has been made. Read More
For a long time, scientists have been searching for an answer as to how galaxy clusters regulate the number of stars they create. Given that the amount of interstellar gas used to create the stellar giants exists in such abundance, this theoretically allows for the creation of many times the current number of stars. A team of researchers from MIT, Columbia University and Michigan State University believe they have found the answer. Read More
Ever since they were theorized by Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity back in 1915, black holes have captured the imagination and curiosity of the public and scientists alike. However, despite this popularity, relatively little is known about how these all-consuming giants evolve and shape the environment around them. NASA scientists are hoping to unravel some of these mysteries by observing an intermediate-mass black hole (IMBH) sitting 100 million light years away in the spiral arm of galaxy NGC 2276. Read More
NASA's venerated Hubble Space Telescope has captured a striking image of the larger galaxy NGC 7714 colliding with its smaller companion NGC 7715. A similar cataclysmic collision is due to take place between our own galaxy – the Milky Way – and our closest neighbor, the Andromeda galaxy, in around four billion years. The image itself is a composite, comprised of a number of images captured by Hubble over a wide range of wavelengths. Read More
ESO astronomers have used the Very Large Telescope’s (VLT) Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) instrument to make detailed observations of a cosmic collision, revealing secrets as to how star-forming gas was ripped out of a distant spiral galaxy. The findings help shed light on the mystery of how star formation ceases in galaxy clusters. 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
NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer telescopes have been used to examine a distant elliptical galaxy known as Sparky. The observations represent the first glimpse at the earliest stages of massive galaxy construction, shedding light on an area of frenzied star production in the early universe. Read More
A newly-released picture taken by the Hubble Telescope is adding more color to the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF) image by detecting thousands of galaxies in the ultraviolet spectrum. The study, called the Ultraviolet Coverage of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (UVUDF), directly imaged stars and other celestial bodies that would have been impossible to observe on the ground, and gives astronomers critical information that will prove useful as the launch of the more powerful James Webb Space Telescope approaches. Read More
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
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