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Black holes hide in our cosmic backyard

10 January 2017 Stephen Clark

Monster black holes sometimes lurk behind gas and dust, hiding from the gaze of most telescopes. But they give themselves away when material they feed on emits high-energy X-rays that NASA’s NuSTAR mission can detect. That’s how NuSTAR recently identified two gas-enshrouded supermassive black holes, located at the centers of nearby galaxies.

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New theory of gravity might explain dark matter

8 November 2016 Astronomy Now

Emergent gravity is a new theory that might explain the curious motions of stars in galaxies. It predicts the exact same deviation of motions that is usually explained by invoking dark matter. Professor Erik Verlinde, renowned expert in string theory, publishes a new research paper today in which he expands his groundbreaking views on the nature of gravity.

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Who stole all the stars?

11 October 2016 Astronomy Now

Investigating the millions of missing stars from the centres of two big galaxies, researchers say they may have solved this cosmic whodunit — and the main culprits are not the usual suspects. While the astronomers confirm that one of the depleted cores is the largest ever detected, they report that it may not have formed in the manner previously thought.

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New research reveals hundreds of undiscovered black holes

8 September 2016 Astronomy Now

It is only as recently as 2013 that astrophysicists found individual black holes in globular clusters via rare phenomena in which a companion star donates material to the black hole. New research by the University of Surrey on a globular cluster known as NGC 6101 shows that it could host several hundred black holes — a phenomenon that until recently was thought impossible.

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Do black holes have a back door?

6 August 2016 Astronomy Now

The laws of physics as we know them cease to apply to black holes in their deepest regions. Large quantities of matter and energy concentrate in a gravitational singularity, where space-time curves towards infinity and all matter is destroyed. Or is it? A recent study suggests that matter might in fact survive its foray into these space objects and come out the other side.

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Japan’s Hitomi observatory made cosmic discovery before failing

12 July 2016 Stephen Clark

Japan’s doomed Hitomi observatory peeled back a veil on the inner workings of the Perseus cluster of galaxies before the satellite spun out of control earlier this year, revealing in unprecedented detail how gas heated to millions of degrees behaves around an unseen supermassive black hole, scientists said.

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Did gravitational wave detector find dark matter?

16 June 2016 Astronomy Now

A matter of scientific speculation since the 1930s, dark matter itself cannot yet be detected, but its gravitational effects can be. Now, eight scientists from Johns Hopkins University consider the possibility that the first black hole binary detected by LIGO could be part of this mysterious substance known to make up about 85 percent of the mass of the universe.

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Gravitational waves detected from second pair of coalescing black holes

15 June 2016 Astronomy Now

Three months after announcing the first detection of gravitational waves, scientists report a second observation of the merger of two black holes made on 26 December 2015. The scientists were able to infer that the mass of the black holes was between 8 and 14 solar masses and the event took place at a distance of about 1.4 billion light-years from Earth.

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LISA Pathfinder success bolsters plan for gravitational wave observatory

9 June 2016 Stephen Clark

Europe’s LISA Pathfinder mission — a fundamental physics lab launched last year to a point a million miles from Earth — has demonstrated the mind-boggling technology required for a future space-based observatory to listen for faint, low-frequency vibrations emitted by invisible objects in the most distant pockets of the universe, scientists said this week.

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