News

JWST launch slips to early 2019

5 October 2017 Stephen Clark

Extra testing of the James Webb Space Telescope and delays in assembling the powerful observatory will push back the $10 billion mission’s launch by at least six months to early 2019, officials announced last week as the telescope successfully completed an extensive performance test inside a cryogenic vacuum chamber in Houston.

News

Hubble observes the farthest active inbound comet yet seen

4 October 2017 Astronomy Now

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has photographed the farthest active inbound comet ever seen, at a whopping distance of 1.5 billion miles from the Sun. Slightly warmed by the remote Sun, it has already begun to develop an 80,000-mile-wide fuzzy cloud of dust, called a coma, enveloping a tiny, solid nucleus of frozen gas and dust.

News

Gravitational waves from a binary black hole merger observed by LIGO and Virgo

27 September 2017 Astronomy Now

The LIGO Scientific Collaboration and the Virgo collaboration report the first joint detection of gravitational waves with both the LIGO and Virgo detectors. This is the fourth announced detection of a binary black hole system and the first significant gravitational-wave signal recorded by the Virgo detector, and highlights the scientific potential of a three-detector network of gravitational-wave detectors.

News

Scientists celebrate 10th anniversary of Dawn mission’s launch

27 September 2017 Stephen Clark

In the ten years since its launch from Cape Canaveral, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has orbited the two largest worlds in the asteroid belt and overcome defective components that threatened to derail the mission on its 4 billion-mile voyage, discovering unexpectedly rich geologic tapestries suggesting both destinations have a watery past.

News

Fast radio bursts may be firing off every second

25 September 2017 Astronomy Now

When fast radio bursts, or FRBs, were first detected in 2001, astronomers had never seen anything like them before. Since then, astronomers have found a couple of dozen FRBs, but they still don’t know what causes these rapid and powerful bursts of radio emission.

News

Arecibo radar telescope battered by Hurricane Maria

22 September 2017 Stephen Clark

Initial reports from the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico indicate powerful winds from Hurricane Maria destroyed an antenna and damaged the radio telescope’s huge 300-metre (1,000-foot) dish reflector, but the bulk of the facility remains intact and workers sheltered there were unharmed.