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Using oxygen as a tracer of galactic evolution

7 October 2016 Astronomy Now

A new study comprised of 7,000 galaxies casts light on how young, hot stars ionise oxygen in the early universe and the effects on the evolution of galaxies through time. The study presents the first measurements of the changing strengths of oxygen emission lines from the present day and back to 12.5 billion years ago.

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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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Nearby Venus-like exoplanet might have oxygen atmosphere

20 August 2016 Astronomy Now

The distant planet GJ 1132b intrigued astronomers when it was discovered last year. Located just 39 light-years from Earth and orbiting its red dwarf star every 1.6 days, new research shows that despite being baked to a temperature of around 232 °C, GJ 1132b might possess a thin, oxygen atmosphere — but no life due to its extreme heat.

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Is Earthly life premature from a cosmic perspective?

1 August 2016 Astronomy Now

The universe is 13.8 billion years old, while our planet formed just 4.5 billion years ago. Some scientists think this time gap means that life on other planets could be billions of years older than ours. However, new theoretical work suggests that present-day life is actually premature from a cosmic perspective.

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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 team of super bright galaxies in the early universe

28 June 2016 Astronomy Now

In 2015, Dr. David Sobral of Lancaster University led a team that found the first example of a spectacularly bright galaxy in the young universe named CR7 which may harbour first generation stars. Now, astronomers have identified a family of incredible galaxies that could shed further light on the transformation of the early universe known as the “epoch of reionisation.”

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Introducing WFIRST — NASA’s wider set of eyes on the universe

21 February 2016 Astronomy Now

With a view 100 times bigger than that of the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA’s Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) will aid researchers in their efforts to unravel the secrets of dark energy and dark matter, and explore the evolution of the cosmos. It also will discover new worlds outside our solar system and advance the search for worlds that could be suitable for life.

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Most distant massive galaxy cluster identified

8 January 2016 Astronomy Now

The early universe was a chaotic mess of gas and matter that only began to coalesce into distinct galaxies hundreds of millions of years after the Big Bang. It would take several billion more years for such galaxies to assemble into massive galaxy clusters — or so scientists had thought. Now astronomers have detected a massive, sprawling, churning galaxy cluster that formed only 3.8 billion years after the Big Bang, some 10 billion light years from Earth.