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A day on Pluto, a day on Charon

20 November 2015 Astronomy Now

Pluto’s day is 6.4 Earth days long. The dwarf planet’s largest moon, Charon, also rotates once every 6.4 days as the two worlds are tidally locked to each another. This sequence of images from the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) and the Ralph/Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera on NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft shows us full rotations of the two bodies.

News

Stanford astronomers observe the birth of an alien planet

19 November 2015 Astronomy Now

Stanford University researchers announce evidence of an exoplanet being born that could move us one step closer to understanding the process of planet formation around other stars. The alien planet, called LkCa 15 b, orbits a star 450 light-years away and appears to be on its way to growing into a world similar to Jupiter.

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A supermassive black hole in action

19 November 2015 Astronomy Now

Scientists often use the combined power of multiple telescopes to reveal the secrets of the universe — and this image of elliptical galaxy Hercules A is a prime example of when this technique is strikingly effective. Radio observations with the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array were combined with the Hubble visible-light data obtained with the Wide Field Camera 3 to create this striking composite image.

News

Dark matter dominates in nearby dwarf galaxy

18 November 2015 Astronomy Now

Dark matter is called “dark” for a good reason. Although they outnumber particles of regular matter by more than a factor of 10, particles of dark matter are elusive. Now, by measuring the mass of a nearby dwarf galaxy called Triangulum II, astronomers believe they may have found the highest concentration of dark matter in any known galaxy.

News

The birth of monsters: VISTA pinpoints earliest giant galaxies

18 November 2015 Astronomy Now

ESO’s VISTA survey telescope has spied a horde of previously hidden massive galaxies that existed when the universe was in its infancy. By discovering and studying more of these galaxies than ever before, astronomers have, for the first time, found out exactly when such monster galaxies first appeared.

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A brighter Saturnian moon

18 November 2015 Astronomy Now

Although Saturn’s moons Dione (near) and Enceladus (far) are composed of nearly the same materials, Enceladus has a considerably higher reflectivity than Dione. As a result, it appears brighter against the dark night sky. This image was taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft in visible light with the narrow-angle camera on 8 September 2015.

News

A research milestone in helping predict solar flares

17 November 2015 Astronomy Now

An international team of researchers, led by Queen’s University Belfast, has devised a high-precision method of examining magnetic fields in the Sun’s atmosphere, representing a significant leap forward in the investigation of solar flares and potentially catastrophic ‘space weather’.

Book Reviews

Galactic Encounters

17 November 2015 Astronomy Now

“With many great photographs — from Edwin Hubble to the Hubble Space Telescope — a robust approach to the science which is (usually) very well explained, and detailed footnotes, this is a history of galactic astronomy that should definitely find space on your bookshelf,” says reviewer Andy Sawers.