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What lies beneath – Venus’ surface revealed through the clouds

18 July 2016 Astronomy Now

Using observations from ESA’s Venus Express satellite, scientists have shown for the first time how weather patterns seen in Venus’ thick cloud layers are directly linked to the topography of the surface below. Rather than acting as a barrier to our observations, Venus’ clouds may offer insight into what lies beneath.

Observing

Let the Moon be your guide to finding Neptune on 23 July

18 July 2016 Ade Ashford

Outermost planet Neptune reaches opposition on 2 September 2016, this year marking the 170th anniversary of the gas giant’s discovery. But you don’t have to wait six week to observe the farthest known planet of the solar system, because the waning gibbous Moon drops close by in the small hours of Saturday, 23 July as seen from the British Isles.

Picture This

Hubble reveals a galaxy fit to burst

18 July 2016 Astronomy Now

This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image reveals the vibrant core of the galaxy NGC 3125, approximately 50 million light-years away. Discovered by John Herschel in 1835, NGC 3125 is a great example of a starburst galaxy — a galaxy in which unusually high numbers of new stars are forming, springing to life within intensely hot clouds of gas.

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Chandra X-ray Observatory finds evidence for violent stellar merger

16 July 2016 Astronomy Now

Gamma-ray bursts, or GRBs, are some of the most violent and energetic events in the universe. Although these events are the most luminous explosions astronomers can observe, a new study using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, NASA’s Swift satellite and other Earth-based telescopes suggests that scientists may be missing a majority of these powerful cosmic detonations.

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Warm Jupiters are not as lonely as expected

15 July 2016 Astronomy Now

After analysing four years of observations from NASA’s Kepler space telescope, astronomers from the University of Toronto have given us our clearest understanding yet of a class of exoplanets called “warm Jupiters,” showing that many have unexpected planetary companions.

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‘Frankenstein’ galaxy UGC 1382 surprises astronomers

13 July 2016 Astronomy Now

About 250 million light-years away, there’s a neighbourhood of our universe that astronomers had considered quiet and unremarkable. But now, scientists have uncovered an enormous, bizarre galaxy possibly formed from the parts of other galaxies. Some 718,000 light-years across, UGC 1382 is more than seven times wider than the Milky Way.