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Seeds of supermassive black holes could be revealed by gravitational waves

27 June 2016 Astronomy Now

Gravitational waves captured by space-based detectors could help identify the origins of supermassive black holes, according to new computer simulations. Durham University’s Institute for Computational Cosmology ran the huge cosmological simulations that can be used to predict the rate at which gravitational waves caused by collisions between the monster black holes might be detected.

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Hubble spies dwarf galaxies in Big Bang frontier fields

23 October 2015 Astronomy Now

Hubble Space Telescope observations have taken advantage of gravitational lensing to reveal the largest sample of the faintest and earliest known galaxies in the universe, formed just 600 million years after the Big Bang. Astronomers have determined, for the first time with some confidence, that these small galaxies were vital to creating the universe that we see today.

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UK scientists seal deal on European Extremely Large Telescope’s first-light spectrograph

23 September 2015 Astronomy Now

UK researchers have just signed an agreement to lead one of the first instruments for what will become the World’s largest visible and infrared telescope, the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). The spectrograph, called HARMONI, will provide the European Southern Observatory’s telescope with a sensitivity that is up to hundreds of times better than any current telescope of its kind.

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Searching for the most habitable galaxies

3 September 2015 Astronomy Now

A team of UK scientists is attempting to build the first cosmobiological model to explore the habitability of the universe. Using a survey of more than 140,000 galaxies nearest to Earth, the team found that elliptical galaxies — rather than spirals like our Milky Way — could be the most probable “cradles of life”.

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First signs of self-interacting dark matter found?

16 April 2015 Astronomy Now

Observations of colliding galaxies made with ESO’s Very Large Telescope and the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope may, for the first time, have detected dark matter interacting with other dark matter in a way other than through the force of gravity.

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Dark matter even darker than once thought

28 March 2015 Astronomy Now

Astronomers using observations from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory have studied how dark matter in clusters of galaxies behaves when the clusters collide. The results show that dark matter interacts with itself even less than previously thought, and narrows down the options for what this mysterious substance might be.