Picture This

A bubbly cosmic celebration of star birth

31 May 2015 Astronomy Now

In the brightest region of this glowing nebula called RCW 34, gas is heated dramatically by young stars and expands through the surrounding cooler gas, bursting outwards into the vacuum like the contents of an uncorked champagne bottle. But RCW 34 has more to offer than a few bubbles; there seem to have been multiple episodes of star formation within the same cloud.

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The dark side of globular star clusters

14 May 2015 Astronomy Now

Observations with ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile have discovered a new class of “dark” globular star clusters around the giant galaxy Centaurus A. These mysterious objects look similar to normal clusters, but contain much more mass and may either harbour unexpected amounts of dark matter, or contain massive black holes — neither of which was expected nor is understood.

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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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Mars lost an ocean’s worth of water

6 March 2015 Astronomy Now

NASA scientists have determined that a primitive ocean occupying almost half of Mars’ northern hemisphere once held more water than Earth’s Arctic Ocean and that the Red Planet has lost 87% of that water to space.