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Using oxygen as a tracer of galactic evolution

7 October 2016 Astronomy Now

A new study comprised of 7,000 galaxies casts light on how young, hot stars ionise oxygen in the early universe and the effects on the evolution of galaxies through time. The study presents the first measurements of the changing strengths of oxygen emission lines from the present day and back to 12.5 billion years ago.

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New distant dwarf planet found beyond Neptune

11 July 2016 Astronomy Now

An international team of astronomers have discovered a new dwarf planet orbiting beyond Neptune. The object is roughly 435 miles in size, moving in a 700-year orbit that takes it more than 120 times further from the Sun than Earth. Designated 2015 RR245, it was found using the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope on Maunakea, Hawaii.

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Virgo Cluster galaxy’s stunning gas tail

22 February 2016 Astronomy Now

Astronomers have discovered a spectacular tail of gas more than 300,000 light-years across coming from a galaxy known as NGC 4569, 55 million light-years away in the Virgo Cluster. The plume is made up of hydrogen gas — the material new stars are made of — and is five times longer than the galaxy itself.

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‘Hot Jupiter’ exoplanets may have formed very rapidly

18 September 2015 Astronomy Now

Twenty years after they were first discovered, ‘hot Jupiters’ — gas giant planets that orbit very close to their star — are still enigmatic objects. Using the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, an international team of astrophysicists has shown that such bodies may only take several million years to migrate close to their newly formed star.

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Extreme starburst in the core of a gargantuan galaxy cluster

11 September 2015 Astronomy Now

An international team of astronomers has discovered a prodigious galaxy cluster with a core bursting with new stars — an incredibly rare find. This surprising new discovery, the result of collaborative synergy from ground- and space-based observations, is the first to show that gigantic galaxies at the centres of massive clusters can grow significantly by feeding off gas stolen from other galaxies.

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Exiled stars explode far from home

5 June 2015 Astronomy Now

Hubble Space Telescope images confirm that three supernovae discovered several years ago exploded in the dark emptiness of intergalactic space — their nearest neighbours probably 300 light-years away — having been flung from their home galaxies millions or billions of years earlier.

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Faint galaxies found hiding in the Virgo Cluster

27 May 2015 Astronomy Now

A recent survey using the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope has discovered hundreds of new galaxies in the Virgo Cluster, the nearest large cluster of galaxies. Most are extremely faint dwarf galaxies, objects hundreds of thousands of times less massive than our Milky Way, and amongst the faintest galaxies known in the universe.