A team of Australian and Spanish astronomers have caught a greedy galaxy gobbling on its neighbours and leaving crumbs of evidence about its dietary past. Their successful and novel approach to investigating how galaxies grow is being used in a new program to further refine the best models of galaxy evolution.
Type Ia supernovae are violent stellar explosions that shine as some of the brightest objects in the universe, but there are still many mysteries surrounding their origin. Now a team of astronomers have witnessed a supernova smashing into a nearby star, shocking it, and creating an ultraviolet glow that reveals the size of the companion.
Seeking to expand how we observe and understand phenomena such as supernovae and colliding black holes that generate gravitational waves, the National Science Foundation has just dedicated the Advanced Laser Gravitational Wave Observatories (Advanced LIGO) in Richland, Washington and Livingston, Louisiana.
Scientists from Rosetta’s OSIRIS team have discovered an extraordinary formation in the Aker region on the larger lobe of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The largest of a group of three boulders with a diameter of approximately 30 metres appears to perch on the rim of a small depression. There seems to be only a very small contact area with the nucleus.
An international team of researchers have used the W. M. Keck Observatory to confirm the existence of the most diffuse class of galaxies known in the universe. These Ultra Diffuse Galaxies (UDGs) are nearly as wide as our own Milky Way galaxy — about 60,000 light-years — yet harbour only one percent as many stars.
Magnetars are dense, collapsed stars that possess enormously powerful magnetic fields. At a distance that could be as small as 0.3 light-years from the 4-million-solar mass black hole in the centre of our Milky Way galaxy, magnetar SGR 1745-2900 is by far the closest neutron star to a supermassive black hole ever discovered and is likely in its gravitational grip.
A decade-long question about the nature of dark spots on Europa’s surface has potentially been solved, with scientists suggesting that these spots are likely signs of irradiated sea salt from a subsurface ocean, deposited onto the surface through interactions with its rocky seafloor. If this is indeed the case, then these findings are an important consideration for assessing the habitability of the planet and whether it could support life or not.