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Stars

The newly detected radioactive elements of Cas A glow blue in this composite image (Image:...

NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) is unraveling the mystery of how stars go supernova by mapping the remnants of radioactive material left in the wake of a supernova. The findings go against previous theories to create a more chaotic view of the conditions prevailing directly before a star explodes.  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

Gaia mapping the stars of the Milky Way (Photo: ESA/ATG medialab; background image: ESO/S....

The Gaia mission to map a billion stars in the Milky Way has been delayed for about two months by the European Space Agency. Problems in X-band transponders used in other satellites have begun to appear, and the ESA has decided to replace those modules prior to launching. The likely blastoff date will be in late December of this year.  Read More

The life cycle of a Sun-like star, detailing the comparative ages of the Sun, HIP 102152 a...

Astronomers have used the ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) to observe the Sun-like star HIP 102152. The object, which resides 250 light-years away, is a solar twin exhibiting very similar attributes to our own Sun. HIP 102152 is nearly four billion years older than the Sun, a characteristic that has provided a valuable insight into the link between the age of a star and the amount of lithium it carries.  Read More

The galaxies M81 and M82 as photographed in a 12-inch telescope (Photo: NASA/Robert Gendle...

The spring has come, and the onset of mild weather in most of the northern hemisphere brings forth a hunger for new celestial objects to observe. Following on from our top picks for winter stargazing, here's our selection of the best targets for spring viewing.  Read More

An aerial view of the Chajnantor Plateau, home to the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimet...

Even before the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) was inaugurated this week, it was already rewriting history with its observations showing that a stellar baby boom took place much earlier than previously thought. But the pre-inauguration announcement isn’t a reflection that the ALMA team didn’t get to enjoy the official ceremony – like the first images released in 2011, the observations were taken while ALMA was still under construction.  Read More

Artist's conception of WISE J1049-5319, with the brightly shining Sun 6.5 light years away...

In a day when we have examined astronomical objects shining forth from a time shortly after the Big Bang, one would think astronomers have a pretty good handle on what is in the immediate vicinity of the Solar System. That's why the recent report of a binary star lying only 6.5 light-years away came as rather a surprise to the astronomical community. The pair, called WISE J1049-5319 A and B, are brown dwarf stars and only two star systems – the triple star Alpha Centauri, and Barnard's Star – lie closer to our Sun.  Read More

One of the BRITE nano-satellites, as it was being assembled in Toronto

At the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India this morning (Feb. 25), the smallest astronomical satellite ever built was launched into orbit aboard the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle C20 rocket. In fact, it wasn’t just one satellite, but two – each of the twin BRIght Target Explorer (BRITE) spacecraft take the form of a cube that measures just 20 cm (7.8 inches) per side, and weighs in at under seven kilograms (15.4 lbs).  Read More

Habitable zone distances around various types of stars (Image: Chester Herman)

Researchers at Penn state have developed a new method for calculating the habitable zone around stars. The computer model based on new greenhouse gas databases provides a tool to better estimate which exoplanets with sufficient atmospheric pressure might be able to maintain liquid water on their surface. The new model indicates that some of the nearly 300 possible Earth-like planets previously identified might be too close to their stars to to be habitable.  Read More

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