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Detonating white dwarfs as supernovae

5 October 2016 Astronomy Now

A new mathematical model created by astrophysicists at the American Museum of Natural History details a way that dead stars called white dwarfs could detonate, producing a type of explosion that is instrumental to measuring the extreme distances in our universe. The mechanism could improve our understanding of how Type Ia supernovae form.

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Saturn’s moon Dione harbours a subsurface ocean

4 October 2016 Astronomy Now

A subsurface ocean lies deep within Saturn’s moon Dione, according to new data from the Cassini mission. Two other moons of Saturn, Titan and Enceladus, are already known to hide global oceans beneath their icy crusts. Researchers believe that Dione’s crust floats on an ocean several tens of kilometres deep located 100 kilometres below the surface.

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Milky Way’s most-mysterious star is even stranger than astronomers thought

4 October 2016 Astronomy Now

A star known as KIC 8462852 in the constellation Cygnus has been raising eyebrows both in and outside of the scientific community for the past year. In 2015 a team of astronomers announced that the star underwent a series of very brief, non-periodic dimming events while being monitored by NASA’s Kepler space telescope. A new study has deepened the mystery.

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Millisecond pulsars in globular cluster 47 Tucanae

3 October 2016 Astronomy Now

Pulsars are rapidly spinning neutron stars that emit electromagnetic radiation in a sweeping, lighthouse-like beam. They are dramatic, powerful probes of supernovae, their progenitor stars. Astronomers have measured the orbital parameters of four millisecond pulsars in the globular cluster 47 Tucanae and modelled their possible formation and evolution paths.

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Hubble probes the core of galaxy NGC 247

3 October 2016 Astronomy Now

NGC 247 is a relatively small spiral galaxy in the southern constellation of Cetus (The Whale), part of the Sculptor Group around 11 million light-years from us. NGC 247 displays one particularly unusual and mysterious feature — an apparent void in the usual swarm of stars and H II regions in the northern part of its disc that spans almost a third of the galaxy’s total length.

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Protoplanetary disc’s spiral arms embrace young star

1 October 2016 Astronomy Now

Swirling around the young star Elias 2-27 is a stunning spiral-shape pinwheel of dust. This striking feature, seen with the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array (ALMA), is the product of density waves — gravitational perturbations in the star’s protoplanetary disc that produce sweeping arms reminiscent of a spiral galaxy, but on a much smaller scale.