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Ingredient of life found around infant Sun-like stars

9 June 2017 Astronomy Now

ALMA has observed stars like the Sun at a very early stage in their formation and found traces of methyl isocyanate — a chemical building block of life. This is the first ever detection of this prebiotic molecule towards solar-type protostars, the sort from which our Solar System evolved.

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Newly discovered fast-growing galaxies could solve cosmic riddle

29 May 2017 Astronomy Now

Astronomers have discovered a new kind of galaxy in the early universe, less than a billion years after the Big Bang. These galaxies are forming stars more than a hundred times faster than our own Milky Way. The discovery could explain an earlier finding: a population of surprisingly massive galaxies at a time 1.5 billion years after the Big Bang, which would require such hyper-productive precursors to grow their hundreds of billions of stars.

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Fireworks left over from stellar explosion in Orion Nebula

12 April 2017 Astronomy Now

Stellar explosions are most often associated with supernovae, the spectacular deaths of stars. But new ALMA observations provide insights into explosions at the other end of the stellar life cycle, star birth. Astronomers captured these dramatic images as they explored the firework-like debris from the birth of a group of massive stars, demonstrating that star formation can be a violent and explosive process too.

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Ancient stardust sheds light on the first stars

9 March 2017 Stephen Clark

Astronomers have used ALMA to detect a huge mass of glowing stardust in a galaxy seen when the Universe was only four percent of its present age. This galaxy was observed shortly after its formation and is the most distant galaxy in which dust has been detected.

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The dawn of a new era for Supernova 1987A

24 February 2017 Stephen Clark

Three decades ago, astronomers spotted one of the brightest exploding stars in more than 400 years. The titanic supernova, called Supernova 1987A, blazed with the power of 100 million suns for several months following its discovery on Feb. 23, 1987.

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ALMA starts observing the Sun

17 January 2017 Stephen Clark

New images taken with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in Chile have revealed otherwise invisible details of our Sun, including a new view of the dark, contorted centre of a sunspot that is nearly twice the diameter of the Earth.