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Stars

An international team of astronomers from Europe, Israel and the United States has succeeded in shedding light on the origin of Type la supernovae – powerful nuclear explosions in deep space that allow us to chart the vast distances between galaxies. It is known that a white dwarf star is responsible for creating the distinctive, intensely bright explosion, but the cause of the supernovae are still a topic of hot debate.

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Astronomers have discovered a series of unusual globular star clusters with masses far exceeding what would be expected under the standard model for the celestial structures. The clusters are located in the giant elliptical galaxy Centaurus A, and seem to hint at an enigmatic dark presence that cannot yet be accounted for.

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Astronomers from the European Southern Observatory have used data from the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) instrument to compile the first 3D image of the Pillars of Creation, uncovering some key characteristics of the structures in the process. A shot of the magnificent structures composed of interstellar gas was first captured by the Hubble Space Telescope in 1995, and remains one of the most iconic images of space exploration to date. Read More
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
After the Big Bang, it took several hundred million years for all the hydrogen and helium and some other gases floating around to start to coalesce into the first stars to light up the universe. New research shows these ancient suns would have clustered together to form extraordinarily bright groupings of stars. 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
An international team led by astronomers from Queen's University Belfast has identified the fastest ever star on an escape trajectory from the Milky Way – the white dwarf US708, which is traveling at a staggering 1,200 km per sec (746 miles per sec). The discovery of this star may shed light on the astronomical events that are vital to the calculation of distances in our universe. 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
An international team of astronomers from the US, Europe, Chile, and South Africa have identified a star system that most likely passed through the outer edge of our solar system at a distance of 0.8 light years some 70,000 years ago. The rogue system, nicknamed Scholz's star, is comprised of a red dwarf with a mass of roughly eight percent of our parent star, while its partner, a brown dwarf, was found to be only six percent as massive as the Sun. Read More
The ESO has turned the Spectro-Polarimetric High-contrast Exoplanet Research instrument (SPHERE) towards an unusual double star with the expectation of finding an orbiting brown dwarf. However, the observations didn’t quite go according to plan, with the instrument – which is the latest addition to the Very Large Telescope (VLT) – coming up short. The findings have led to an ongoing re-examination of the cause of the binary stars’ unusual behaviour. Read More
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