News

Volcanic outgassing to aid in the search for life on other planets

11 June 2015 Kerry Hebden

Finding ways to confirm life on planets outside of our Solar System is often at the forefront of exoplanet research. Now a team of graduate students at the University of Washington (UW) have found a way to aid this search by proposing that future telescopes should look for explosive volcanic activity as a potential marker for life on other worlds.

News

UK work-experience schoolboy discovers a new planet

10 June 2015 Astronomy Now

Tom Wagg, now aged 17, discovered a new planet orbiting a star 1000 light-years away in the constellation of Hydra. He was doing work-experience at Keele University two years ago when he spotted the body by finding a tiny dip in the light of its parent star as the planet passed in front of it.

News

New model could track solar storms 24 hours before reaching Earth

10 June 2015 Astronomy Now

Our Sun is a volatile star, producing giant clouds of solar particles called coronal mass ejections. Now scientists may finally have a tool to predict the magnetic configuration of a CME from afar, enabling forecasters to give utility grid and satellite operators a day’s advance warning to protect their systems.

Picture This

Fly over Ceres in a new video

9 June 2015 Astronomy Now

A new animated video of dwarf planet Ceres, based on images taken from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft’s first mapping orbit at an altitude of 8,400 miles (13,600 kilometres), as well as the most recent navigational images taken from 3,200 miles (5,100 kilometres), provides a unique perspective of this heavily cratered, mysterious world.

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ALMA’s detailed view of star formation in the distant universe

8 June 2015 Astronomy Now

The Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array has produced a spectacularly detailed image of a distant galaxy known as SDP.81 that is being gravitationally lensed. The image shows a magnified view of the galaxy’s star-forming regions, the likes of which have never been seen before at this level of detail in a galaxy so remote.

Equipment

Sky-Watcher Stargate-450P Dobsonian

7 June 2015 Steve Ringwood

Steve Ringwood appraises a veritable light bucket in the form of Sky-Watcher’s Stargate-450P — an 18-inch f/4.1, all metal truss tube Dobsonian designed to be easily transported and assembled ready for use in less than 20 minutes.

Picture This

Celebrating Hubble: The cosmic sombrero

7 June 2015 Astronomy Now

Regarded as one of the most majestic of all of the galaxies in the Universe is the Sombrero, 28 million light years away in the constellation Virgo. This spiral galaxy’s notable features are its thick, torus-like disc with a dark, duty rim and the intense, bulbous, white glow that emanates from its core.

News

Charting the Milky Way from the inside out

7 June 2015 Astronomy Now

The Sun’s location within the Milky Way’s dust-obscured disc is a complicating factor when trying to determine the Galaxy’s four-arm spiral structure, but researchers are obtaining a clearer picture by mapping embedded star clusters using data from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE).