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Are all stars created equal?

14 November 2016 Astronomy Now

Astronomers have found the strongest evidence yet that the formation of massive stars follows a path similar to their lower-mass brethren — but on steroids! The new findings show that the episodic explosive outbursts within what are called accretion discs, known to occur during the formation of average mass stars like our Sun, also happen in the formation of much more massive stars.

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Newly discovered distant solar system objects resonate with Neptune

22 July 2016 Astronomy Now

The search for distant solar system objects has found two more small worlds far outside the orbit of Neptune, beyond the Kuiper Belt. The new objects, 2014 FZ71 and 2015 FJ345, are in resonance with Neptune’s orbit, implying that these worlds either have interacted with Neptune in the past or are continuing to do so.

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Chandra X-ray Observatory finds evidence for violent stellar merger

16 July 2016 Astronomy Now

Gamma-ray bursts, or GRBs, are some of the most violent and energetic events in the universe. Although these events are the most luminous explosions astronomers can observe, a new study using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, NASA’s Swift satellite and other Earth-based telescopes suggests that scientists may be missing a majority of these powerful cosmic detonations.

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Ultra-sharp image uncovers the shocking lives of young stars

17 June 2016 Astronomy Now

An unprecedented view from the world’s most advanced adaptive optics system on the Gemini South telescope in Chile probes a swarm of young and forming stars that appear to have been triggered, or shocked, into existence. The group, known as N159W, is located some 158,000 light-years away in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), a satellite to our Milky Way Galaxy.

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Astrophysicists detect ultra-fast winds near supermassive black hole

21 March 2016 Astronomy Now

Quasars are the discs of hot gas that form around supermassive black holes at the centre of massive galaxies — they are hotter than the surface of the Sun, generating enough light to be seen across the observable universe. New research has revealed quasar wind speeds of 20 percent the speed of light near a supermassive black hole.

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Galaxy quakes could improve hunt for dark matter

7 January 2016 Astronomy Now

Ripples in gas at the outer disc of our galaxy have puzzled astronomers since they were first revealed by radio observations a decade ago. Now, astronomers believe they have found the culprit — a dwarf galaxy, containing dark, unseen material, which skimmed the outskirts of the Milky Way a few hundred million years ago. This method to characterise dark matter marks first real application of galactoseismology.

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Evidence for an impact event on main-belt asteroid Griseldis

13 November 2015 Astronomy Now

The main-belt asteroid (493) Griseldis, that lies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, was probably hit by another object last March. The results were reported on 12 November at the 47th Annual Meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society near Washington, DC.

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Whopping galaxy cluster spotted with help of NASA telescopes

3 November 2015 Astronomy Now

Astronomers have discovered a giant gathering of galaxies in a very remote part of the universe, thanks to NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE). The galaxy cluster, located 8.5 billion light-years away, is the most massive structure yet found at such great distances.

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Searching for orphan stars amid starbirth fireworks in Orion

29 September 2015 Astronomy Now

A new Gemini Observatory image reveals the remarkable “fireworks” that accompany the birth of stars. The picture captures in unprecedented clarity the fascinating structures of a gas jet complex emanating from a stellar nursery at supersonic speeds. Researchers believe they have also found a collection of runaway (orphan) stars that result from all this activity.