News

Merging galaxies have enshrouded black holes

10 May 2017 Astronomy Now

Black holes get a bad rap in popular culture for swallowing everything in their environments. In reality, stars, gas and dust can orbit black holes for long periods of time, until a major disruption pushes the material in.

Picture This

A lot of galaxies need guarding in this Hubble view

8 May 2017 Astronomy Now

Like the quirky characters in the upcoming film Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has some amazing superpowers, specifically when it comes to observing galaxies across time and space. One stunning example is galaxy cluster Abell 370, which contains a vast assortment of several hundred galaxies tied together by the mutual pull of gravity.

News

Ancient stardust sheds light on the first stars

9 March 2017 Stephen Clark

Astronomers have used ALMA to detect a huge mass of glowing stardust in a galaxy seen when the Universe was only four percent of its present age. This galaxy was observed shortly after its formation and is the most distant galaxy in which dust has been detected.

News

NASA’s Fermi discovers the most extreme blazars yet

31 January 2017 Stephen Clark

NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has identified the farthest gamma-ray blazars, a type of galaxy whose intense emissions are powered by supersized black holes. Light from the most distant object began its journey to us when the universe was 1.4 billion years old, or nearly 10 percent of its present age.

News

Black holes hide in our cosmic backyard

10 January 2017 Stephen Clark

Monster black holes sometimes lurk behind gas and dust, hiding from the gaze of most telescopes. But they give themselves away when material they feed on emits high-energy X-rays that NASA’s NuSTAR mission can detect. That’s how NuSTAR recently identified two gas-enshrouded supermassive black holes, located at the centers of nearby galaxies.

News

Forming stars in the early universe

21 November 2016 Astronomy Now

The first stars appeared about 100 million years after the Big Bang. When the universe was about 3 billion years old, star formation activity peaked at rates about ten times above current levels. Why this happened, and whether the physical processes back then were different from those today, are among the most pressing questions in astronomy.

News

Observable universe contains ten times more galaxies than previously thought

13 October 2016 Astronomy Now

Astronomers using data from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and other observatories have performed an accurate census of the number of galaxies in the universe. The researchers came to the surprising conclusion that the observable universe contains at least two trillion galaxies. The results also help solve an ancient astronomical paradox — why is the sky dark at night?

News

Astronomers shed light on different galaxy types

14 September 2016 Astronomy Now

Australian scientists have taken a critical step towards understanding why different types of galaxies exist throughout the universe. The research means that astronomers can now classify galaxies according to their physical properties rather than human interpretation of a galaxy’s appearance.