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Keck Observatory measures oxygen in galaxy 12 billion years ago

4 August 2016 Astronomy Now

Astronomers have made the first accurate measurement of the abundance of oxygen in a distant galaxy. Oxygen is created inside stars and released into interstellar gas when stars die. Quantifying the amount of oxygen, the third-most abundant chemical element in the universe, is key to understanding how matter cycles in and out of galaxies.

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Planet-devouring star reveals possible limestone debris: fossil marine life?

14 June 2016 Astronomy Now

A group of researchers using the W. M. Keck Observatory have discovered a planet-like body that may have been encrusted in limestone and is having its surface layers devoured by its deceased host star. The team found that the rocky material being accreted by the star could be comprised of minerals that are typically associated with marine life processes here on Earth.

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Hubble finds universe is expanding faster than expected

2 June 2016 Astronomy Now

When Edwin Hubble discovered nearly 100 years ago that the universe was uniformly expanding in all directions, the finding was a big surprise. Then, in the mid-1990s, another shocker occurred: astronomers found that the expansion rate was accelerating, perhaps due to “dark energy.” Now, the latest measurements of our runaway universe suggest that it is expanding faster than astronomers thought.

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Gigantic, early black hole could upend evolutionary theory

10 July 2015 Astronomy Now

Astronomers have spotted a super-sized black hole in the early universe that grew much faster than its host galaxy. The discovery challenges previous notions about the way host galaxies grow in relation to black holes and casts doubt on earlier suggestions that the radiation emitted by expanding black holes curtails the creation of stars.

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‘Fluffiest galaxies’ discovered by Keck Observatory

16 May 2015 Astronomy Now

An international team of researchers have used the W. M. Keck Observatory to confirm the existence of the most diffuse class of galaxies known in the universe. These Ultra Diffuse Galaxies (UDGs) are nearly as wide as our own Milky Way galaxy — about 60,000 light-years — yet harbour only one percent as many stars.