News

Report of first search for visible light associated with gravitational waves

14 February 2016 Astronomy Now

Catastrophic mergers of binary black holes have been shown to generate gravitational waves, but they can also produce brilliant fireworks of light. Now a team of astronomers has used the Dark Energy Camera (DECam) mounted on the 4-metre Blanco Telescope in Chile in the first detailed search for a visible counterpart of a gravitational wave event.

News

ALMA sees early stages of planet formation around a binary star

13 February 2016 Astronomy Now

To better understand how planets in binary star systems form and evolve, astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array (ALMA) took a new, detailed look at the planet-forming disc around HD 142527, a binary star about 450 light-years from Earth in a cluster of young stars known as the Scorpius-Centaurus Association.

News

Astronomers find a rare supernova ‘impostor’ in a nearby galaxy

13 February 2016 Astronomy Now

In May 2010, a South African amateur astronomer pointed his telescope toward nearby galaxy NGC 300 and discovered what appeared to be a supernova — a massive star ending its life in a blaze of glory. However, SN 2010da is what we call a ‘supernova impostor’ — something initially thought to be a supernova, but later releaved as a massive star showing an enormous flare of activity.

Picture This

Tim Peake’s ISS view of the waxing Moon

12 February 2016 Astronomy Now

In this image we see the young lunar crescent as seen from the International Space Station by ESA astronaut Tim Peake on 9 February 2016. At the time of the photograph the Moon was just 1.2 days old. Features on the Earth-facing side of the Moon not directly illuminated by the Sun are glowing softly due to earthshine, light reflected onto the Moon from our planet.

News

Putting Pluto’s geology on the map

12 February 2016 Astronomy Now

To help mission scientists understand the diversity of Pluto’s terrain and to piece together how the dwarf planet’s surface has formed and evolved over time, NASA’s New Horizons mission scientists have started constructing geological maps. The base map for this interpretation is a mosaic of 12 images obtained by the spacecraft’s Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI).

Picture This

The sleeping giant in elliptical galaxy NGC 4889

11 February 2016 Astronomy Now

The placid appearance of NGC 4889 can fool the unsuspecting observer. But the elliptical galaxy, pictured here in front of hundreds of background galaxies, and deeply embedded within the Coma galaxy cluster in this new image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, harbours a dark secret. At its heart lurks one of the most massive black holes ever discovered.

News

Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) starts its second decade

11 February 2016 Astronomy Now

The Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) is a 12-metre radio telescope for observations at submillimetre wavelengths, operating 5,100 metres above sea level in the Atacama Desert. On 25-26 January, the project’s 10th anniversary was celebrated at the APEX base station in Sequitor, San Pedro de Atacama. A number of special guests were present at the occasion.

Picture This

A young star’s moment in the spotlight

10 February 2016 Astronomy Now

A newly formed star lights up the surrounding cosmic clouds in this new image from ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. Dust particles in the vast clouds that surround the young T-tauri star HD 97300 diffuse its light, like a car headlight in enveloping fog, and create the reflection nebula IC 2631.

News

Scientists to provide update on the search for gravitational waves

10 February 2016 Astronomy Now

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the first publication of Albert Einstein’s prediction of the existence of gravitational waves. With interest in this topic piqued by the centennial, researchers from UK universities in Glasgow, Birmingham, and Cardiff will discuss their ongoing efforts to observe and measure cosmic gravitational waves for scientific research in London on Thursday, 11 February.