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Britain’s pre-Stonehenge megaliths were aligned by astronomers

19 August 2016 Astronomy Now

For the first time, astroarchaeologists have statistically proven that the earliest standing stone monuments of Britain — the great circles — were constructed specifically in line with the movements of the Sun and Moon, 5000 years ago. University of Adelaide researchers used innovative 2-D and 3-D technology to test the patterns of alignment in the standing stones.

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Citizen scientists discover huge Matorny-Terentev galaxy cluster

14 June 2016 Astronomy Now

Two volunteer participants in an international citizen science project, T. Matorney and I. A. Terentev, have had a rare galaxy cluster that they found named after them. The pair pieced together the huge C-shaped structure of RGZ-CL J0823.2+0333 from much smaller images of cosmic radio waves shown to them as part of the web-based program Radio Galaxy Zoo.

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Radioactive fuel boosts supernovae explosions

22 May 2016 Astronomy Now

Some supernovae have a reserve tank of radioactive cobalt-57 fuel that cuts in and powers their explosions for three times longer than astronomers had previously thought. The discovery by Australian and US researchers gives important new clues about the causes of Type Ia supernovae, which astronomers use to measure vast distances across the universe.

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Supernovae showered Earth with radioactive iron

7 April 2016 Astronomy Now

An international team of scientists has found radioactive iron-60 in sediment and crust samples taken from the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans. They report that a series of massive supernova explosions occurring between 3.2 and 1.7 million years ago from stars less than 300 light-years away showered the Earth with radioactive debris.

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Astronomers glimpse supernova shockwave for the first time

22 March 2016 Astronomy Now

Astronomers have captured the earliest minutes of two exploding stars and for the first time seen a shockwave generated by a star’s collapsing core. The international team found a shockwave only in the smaller supernova — a finding that will help them understand these complex explosions that create many of the elements that make up the Earth and solar system.

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A lonely planet and its distant star

26 January 2016 Astronomy Now

A team of astronomers in the UK, USA and Australia have found a planet, until now thought to be a free floating, in a huge, 900,000-year orbit around its star. Incredibly the object, designated as 2MASS J2126, is about 1 trillion (1 million million) kilometres from the star, or about 7,000 times the distance from the Earth to the Sun.

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Are aliens silent because they are all extinct?

21 January 2016 Astronomy Now

Life on other planets would likely be brief and become extinct very quickly, say astrobiologists from The Australian National University (ANU). In research aiming to understand how life might develop, the scientists realised new life would commonly die out due to runaway heating or cooling on their fledgling planets.

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Oldest stars ever seen found near Milky Way centre

12 November 2015 Astronomy Now

Astronomers have discovered the oldest stars ever seen, dating from before the Milky Way Galaxy formed, when the universe was just 300 million years old. The stars, found near the centre of the Milky Way, are surprisingly pure but contain material from an even earlier star, which died in an enormous explosion called a hypernova.