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Our galaxy’s black hole is spewing out planet-size ‘spitballs’

23 January 2017 Stephen Clark

Every few thousand years, an unlucky star wanders too close to the black hole at the center of the Milky Way. The black hole’s powerful gravity rips the star apart, sending a long streamer of gas whipping outward. That would seem to be the end of the story, but it’s not. New research shows that not only can the gas gather itself into planet-size objects, but those objects then are flung throughout the galaxy in a game of cosmic “spitball.”

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Festive nebulae light up Milky Way Galaxy satellite

23 December 2016 Stephen Clark

The sheer observing power of the Hubble Space Telescope is rarely better illustrated than in an image such as this. This glowing pink nebula, named NGC 248, is located in the Small Magellanic Cloud, just under 200,000 light-years away and yet can still be seen in great detail.

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Mystery of ultra-diffuse faint galaxies solved

29 November 2016 Astronomy Now

Over the last year, researchers have observed some very faint, diffuse galaxies. These so-called ultra-diffuse galaxies (UDGs) are as faint as dwarf galaxies but are distributed over an area just as large as the Milky Way. Now, a solution to the mystery of how such galaxies form has been found.

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Hubble spotlights irregular galaxy IC 3583

28 November 2016 Astronomy Now

This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image reveals a delicate blue group of stars — actually an irregular galaxy named IC 3583 — that sits some 30 million light-years away in the constellation of Virgo. This small galaxy is thought to be gravitationally interacting with one of its neighbours, the spiral Messier 90.

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Newly discovered stars shed light on Milky Way’s formation

23 November 2016 Astronomy Now

An astronomer from Liverpool John Moores University has discovered a new family of stars in the core of the Milky Way which provides new insights into the early stages of the galaxy’s formation. The discovery has shed new light on the origins of globular clusters formed at the beginning of the Milky Way’s history.

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Record-breaking dwarf satellite galaxy of the Milky Way discovered

21 November 2016 Astronomy Now

An international team has found an extremely faint dwarf satellite galaxy of the Milky Way using the Hyper Suprime-Cam (HSC) on the 8.2-metre Subaru Telescope located at the Mauna Kea Observatory on Hawaii. Named Virgo I, the galaxy lies 280,000 light-years away in the constellation of Virgo. The galaxy may well be the faintest satellite galaxy yet found.

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Major supercluster of galaxies found hidden by the Milky Way

17 November 2016 Astronomy Now

An international team of astronomers has discovered a previously unknown major concentration of galaxies in the constellation Vela, which they have dubbed the Vela supercluster. The gravitational attraction from this large mass concentration in our cosmic neighbourhood may have an important effect on the motion of our Local Group of 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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Breakthrough Listen searches new-found nearby planet Proxima b for signs of ET

8 November 2016 Astronomy Now

Breakthrough Listen, the 10-year, $100-million astronomical search for intelligent life beyond Earth launched in 2015 by Internet entrepreneur Yuri Milner and Stephen Hawking, has just announced its first observations of newly-discovered Earth-size planet Proxima b orbiting the nearest star to the Sun using the Parkes Radio Telescope in New South Wales, Australia.

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