News

Clear sailing expected for Pluto flyby

13 July 2015 Stephen Clark

There is no sign of an undiscovered moon lurking around Pluto in data streaming back to Earth from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, and that is surprising to Alan Stern, the scientist in charge of the probe.

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New contact with intractable comet lander

11 July 2015 Stephen Clark

Europe’s Rosetta comet probe re-established momentary contact with the Philae lander late Thursday, renewing hopes of starting up the craft’s research instruments after two weeks of radio silence dampened the moods of scientists.

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Huge new survey to shine light on dark matter

11 July 2015 Astronomy Now

The first results have been released from a major new dark matter survey of the southern skies using ESO’s VLT Survey Telescope (VST) at the Paranal Observatory in Chile. The VST KiDS survey will allow astronomers to make precise measurements of dark matter, the structure of galaxy halos, and the evolution of galaxies and clusters.

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The children of Pluto: reflections on Clyde Tombaugh

10 July 2015 Astronomy Now

Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto over 85 years ago. He died in 1997, but during the historic 14 July flyby of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, Clyde’s children Alden and Annette Tombaugh will be special guests at mission headquarters. Here they reflect on their father’s legacy.

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Gigantic, early black hole could upend evolutionary theory

10 July 2015 Astronomy Now

Astronomers have spotted a super-sized black hole in the early universe that grew much faster than its host galaxy. The discovery challenges previous notions about the way host galaxies grow in relation to black holes and casts doubt on earlier suggestions that the radiation emitted by expanding black holes curtails the creation of stars.

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Royal Astronomical Society’s National Astronomy Meeting 2015 – report 4

9 July 2015 Astronomy Now

On the final day of NAM2015, science writer Kulvinder Singh Chadha investigates a new model that generates accurate predictions of irregularities within the Sun’s 11-year heartbeat, suggesting that solar activity could fall by 60 percent during the 2030s to ‘mini ice age’ conditions. Kulvinder also looks back at the lighter moments and highlights of a successful conference.