News

The mysterious ‘lakes’ on Saturn’s moon Titan

21 June 2015 Astronomy Now

Titan is home to seas and lakes filled with liquid hydrocarbons, but what forms the depressions on the surface? A new study using data from the joint NASA and European Space Agency (ESA) Cassini mission suggests the moon’s surface dissolves in a process that’s similar to the creation of sinkholes on Earth.

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Quasars result from violent galactic mergers

20 June 2015 Astronomy Now

Using the Hubble Space Telescope’s infrared vision, astronomers have unveiled some of the previously hidden origins of quasars, the brightest objects in the universe. A new study finds that quasars are born when galaxies crash into each other and fuel supermassive, central black holes.

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Hot lava flows discovered on Venus

19 June 2015 Astronomy Now

The European Space Agency’s Venus Express spacecraft has found the best evidence yet for active volcanism on Earth’s neighbour planet. Seeing the planet’s surface is extremely difficult due to its thick atmosphere, but radar observations by previous missions to Venus have revealed it as a world covered in volcanoes and ancient lava flows.

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A globular cluster where stars collide

17 June 2015 Astronomy Now

Using the advanced adaptive optics system GeMS, on the Gemini South telescope, astronomers have imaged a beautiful stellar jewel-box — a tightly packed cluster of stars that is one of the few places in our galaxy where astronomers think stars can actually collide.

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Engineers seek to stabilise radio link with comet lander

16 June 2015 Stephen Clark

Emboldened by renewed contact with Europe’s comet lander, engineers are repositioning the mission’s Rosetta mothership this week to establish a reliable a communications link with the dishwasher-sized Philae landing craft, a prerequisite for resuming a science campaign abbreviated by a power shortfall last year.