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Peering into the shrouded heart of a luminous Seyfert galaxy

29 May 2018 Astronomy Now

Seyfert galaxies are unusually luminous, powered by supermassive black holes feeding on galactic dust and debris. It is difficult to peer into the dust-shrouded cores of such galaxies, but the European Southern Observatory, combining radio and optical observations, provides an intriguing glimpse.

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Infant stars discovered surprisingly near galaxy’s supermassive black hole

28 November 2017 Astronomy Now

At the centre of our galaxy, in the immediate vicinity of its supermassive black hole, is a region wracked by powerful tidal forces and bathed in intense ultraviolet light and X-ray radiation. These harsh conditions, astronomers surmise, do not favour star formation, especially low-mass stars like our Sun. Surprisingly, new observations suggest otherwise.

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ALMA discovers cold dust around nearest star

3 November 2017 Astronomy Now

The ALMA Observatory in Chile has detected dust around the closest star to the Solar System, Proxima Centauri. These new observations reveal the glow coming from cold dust in a region between one to four times as far from Proxima Centauri as the Earth is from the Sun. The data also hint at the presence of an even cooler outer dust belt and may indicate the presence of an elaborate planetary system.

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Explosive birth of stars can swell galactic cores

12 September 2017 Astronomy Now

Astronomers have found that active star formation upswells galaxies, like yeast helps bread rise. Using three powerful telescopes on the ground and in orbit, they observed galaxies from 11 billion years ago and found explosive formation of stars in the cores of galaxies. This suggests that galaxies can change their own shape without interaction with other galaxies.

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Heart of an exploded star observed in 3D

13 July 2017 Astronomy Now

Supernovas — the violent endings of the brief yet brilliant lives of massive stars — are among the most cataclysmic events in the cosmos. Though supernovas mark the death of stars, they also trigger the birth of new elements and the formation of new molecules.