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Surprising chemistry seen in molecular rings around young star

24 September 2015 Astronomy Now

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimetre Array (ALMA) have discovered two spectacular rings of molecules encircling the young, Sun-like star IM Lup. The rings are made up of one of the most common heavy ions in space — DCO+ (deuterium, carbon, oxygen). This chemistry reveals new insights into the conditions of the planet-forming disc surrounding this star.

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Dwarf galaxy WLM becomes star-forming powerhouse

10 September 2015 Astronomy Now

Nearby dwarf galaxy Wolf—Lundmark—Melotte (WLM) poses an intriguing mystery: How is it able to form brilliant star clusters without the dusty, gas-rich environments found in larger galaxies? The answer, astronomers believe, lies in densely packed and previously unrecognised nuggets of star-forming material sprinkled throughout the galaxy.

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Merging galaxies break radio silence

29 May 2015 Astronomy Now

A large Hubble survey confirms an unambiguous link between the presence of supermassive black holes that power high-speed, radio-signal-emitting jets and the merger history of their host galaxies. The results lend significant weight to the case for jets being the result of merging black holes.

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ALMA sees super stellar nurseries at heart of starburst galaxy

16 February 2015 Astronomy Now

Starburst galaxies transmute gas into new stars up to 1,000 times faster than typical spiral galaxies like the Milky Way. To try and understand why, an international team of astronomers used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimetre Array (ALMA) to dissect a cluster of star-forming clouds at the heart of NGC 253 — one of the nearest starburst galaxies.