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The Frontier Fields: where primordial galaxies lurk

29 September 2016 Astronomy Now

In the ongoing hunt for the universe’s earliest galaxies, NASA has wrapped up its observations for the Frontier Fields project. This ambitious venture has combined the power of all three of NASA’s orbital observatories — the Spitzer Space Telescope, the Hubble Space Telescope and the Chandra X-ray Observatory — to delve as far back in time and space as current technology can allow.

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Ancient eye in the sky reveals galaxies

26 July 2016 Astronomy Now

A gravitational lens system has been discovered by undergraduate students examining images from the 8.2-metre Subaru Telescope’s Hyper Suprime-Cam. Dubbed the “Eye of Horus” due to the system’s uncanny resemblance to the sacred eye of the ancient Egyptian goddess, it is formed by a galaxy 7 billion light-years from the Earth bending the light from two more galaxies directly behind it.

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Hubble looks to the Final Frontier on 50th anniversary of “Star Trek”

21 July 2016 Astronomy Now

The TV series “Star Trek” captured the public’s imagination with the signature phrase, “To boldly go where no one has gone before.” The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope doesn’t “boldly go” deep into space, but it is “boldly peering” deeper into the universe than ever before to explore the warping of space and time and uncover some of the farthest objects ever seen.

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A new ‘Einstein ring’ is discovered

2 June 2016 Astronomy Now

This unusual phenomenon, predicted by Einstein’s theory of General Relativity, was discovered by chance by doctoral student Margherita Bettinelli at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias while analysing images of the Sculptor dwarf galaxy. The “Canarias Einstein ring” is one of the most symmetrical discovered until now and is almost circular.

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Hubble’s vibrant view of a massive galactic gathering

23 May 2016 Astronomy Now

This incredible image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope reveals thousands of colourful galaxies in the constellation of Leo, components of cluster known as MACS J1149.5+2223. This vibrant view of the early universe was captured as part of the Frontier Fields campaign, which aims to investigate galaxy clusters in more detail than ever before.

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Astronomers confirm faintest early-universe galaxy ever detected

20 May 2016 Astronomy Now

An international team of scientists has detected and confirmed the faintest early-universe galaxy ever using the ten-metre Keck II telescope on the summit on Maunakea, Hawaii. The team analysed three separate images of the object gravitationally lensed by a foreground galaxy cluster, revealing the distant galaxy as it was 13 billion years ago.

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Dwarf dark galaxy hidden in ALMA gravitational lens image

14 April 2016 Astronomy Now

Subtle distortions hidden in a stunning Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array (ALMA) image of the gravitational lens SDP.81 are telltale signs that a dwarf dark galaxy is lurking in the halo of a much larger galaxy nearly 4 billion light-years away. This discovery could help astronomers address important questions on the nature of dark matter.

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A cosmic kaleidoscope seen through multi-spectral eyes

21 March 2016 Astronomy Now

At first glance, this cosmic kaleidoscope of purple, blue and pink offers a strikingly beautiful — and serene — snapshot of the cosmos. However, this multi-coloured haze actually marks the site of two colliding galaxy clusters, forming a single object known as MACS J0416.1-2403 (or MACS J0416 for short), 4.3 billion light-years away from Earth.

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Telescopes combine to push frontier on galaxy clusters

12 March 2016 Astronomy Now

Galaxy clusters are enormous collections of hundreds or even thousands of galaxies and vast reservoirs of hot gas embedded in massive clouds of dark matter. To learn more about clusters, including how they grow via collisions, astronomers have used some of the world’s most powerful X-ray, optical and radio telescopes. The name for this galaxy cluster project is the “Frontier Fields”.