The fuzzy collection of stars seen in this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image forms an intriguing dwarf galaxy named LEDA 677373, located about 14 million light-years away from us in the constellation Centaurus. This particular dwarf galaxy contains a plentiful reservoir of gas from which it could form stars, but it stubbornly refuses to do so. Why?
Due for launch in 2020, ESA’s Euclid satellite will set astronomers a huge challenge: to analyse 100,000 strong gravitational lenses. The gravitational deflection of light from distant astronomical sources by interposing massive galaxies can create multiple images of the source that are not just visually stunning, but are also valuable tools for probing our universe.
Following its historic first-ever flyby of Pluto, NASA’s New Horizons mission has received the green light to fly onward to an object deeper in the Kuiper Belt, known as 2014 MU69. The spacecraft’s planned rendezvous with the ancient object — considered one of the early building blocks of the solar system — is 1 January 2019.
Mars lies highest in the sky to the south soon after sunset at the beginning of July for observers in the UK, so you should not waste any opportunities to view the Red Planet while it is close and still relatively large in size. Tharsis, the great Martian volcanic plateau that is home to the largest volcanoes in the solar system, is turned toward Earth in the first week of the month.
Some galaxies pump out vast amounts of energy from a very small volume of space, typically not much bigger than our own solar system. The cores of so-called active galactic nuclei (AGNs) can be billions of light-years away, so are difficult to study in any detail. However, natural gravitational ‘microlenses’ can provide a way to probe these objects.
Halley’s Comet, officially designated 1P/Halley, is visible from Earth every 75–76 years. Despite this regular return, the comet’s orbit cannot be predicted exactly due to processes inside the comet and its chaotic interaction with the planets and minor bodies in the solar system. A team of Dutch and Scottish researchers has now found an explanation for the chaotic orbital behaviour of 1P/Halley.