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Hubble unveils monster stars in the Tarantula Nebula

17 March 2016 Astronomy Now

Astronomers using the unique ultraviolet capabilities of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have identified nine monster stars with masses over 100 times the mass of the Sun in the star cluster R136, located in the Tarantula Nebula within the Large Magellanic Cloud. This makes it the largest sample of very massive stars identified to date.

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Globular clusters make new stars by ‘adopting’ stray cosmic gases

27 January 2016 Astronomy Now

An international research team of astronomers has, for the first time, found young populations of stars within globular clusters that have apparently developed courtesy of star-forming gas flowing in from outside of the clusters themselves. This method stands in contrast to the conventional idea of the clusters’ initial stars shedding gas as they age in order to spark future rounds of star birth.

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Magnified image of the faintest galaxy from the early universe

5 December 2015 Astronomy Now

Astronomers harnessing the combined power of NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes have found the faintest object ever seen in the early universe. It existed about 400 million years after the big bang, 13.8 billion years ago. The new object is comparable in size to the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), a diminutive satellite galaxy of our Milky Way.

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Hottest white dwarf discovered in our Galaxy

29 November 2015 Astronomy Now

With a temperature of 250,000 °C — 45 times that at the surface of our Sun — astronomers believe that this dying star in the outskirts of the Milky Way may have peaked at 400,000 °C a thousand years ago. The researchers were also the first to observe an intergalactic gas cloud moving towards the Milky Way — indicating that galaxies collect fresh material from deep space, which they can use to make new stars.

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NASA’s Fermi satellite detects first gamma-ray pulsar in another galaxy

13 November 2015 Astronomy Now

Researchers using NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope have discovered the first gamma-ray pulsar in a galaxy other than our own. Known as PSR J0540-6919, the object sets a new record for the most luminous gamma-ray pulsar known. The pulsar lies in the outskirts of the Tarantula Nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small galaxy that is located 163,000 light-years away.

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Final kiss of two stars heading for catastrophe

21 October 2015 Astronomy Now

Using ESO’s Very Large Telescope, an international team of astronomers have found the hottest and most massive double star with components so close that they touch each other. The two stars in the extreme system VFTS 352 could be heading for a dramatic end, during which the two stars either coalesce to create a single giant star, or form a binary black hole.

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The Magellanic Clouds and an interstellar filament

8 September 2015 Astronomy Now

Portrayed in this image from ESA’s Planck satellite are the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, dwarf galaxies that are among the nearest companions of our Milky Way. The Large Magellanic Cloud, about 160,000 light-years away, is the large red and orange blob close to the centre of the image. The Small Magellanic Cloud lies some 200,000 light-years from us.

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Hubble resolves youthful globular cluster NGC 1783

31 August 2015 Astronomy Now

This Hubble Space Telescope image shows globular cluster NGC 1783 in the Southern Hemisphere constellation of Dorado. NGC 1783 lies within the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of our Milky Way, some 160,000 light-years from Earth. NGC 1783 is thought to be less than 1.5 billion years old — very young for a globular cluster.

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Dark energy survey finds eight more galactic neighbours

18 August 2015 Astronomy Now

Scientists on the Dark Energy Survey, using one of the world’s most powerful digital cameras, have discovered eight more faint celestial objects hovering near our Milky Way galaxy. Signs indicate that they, like the objects found by the same team earlier this year, are likely dwarf satellite galaxies — the smallest and closest known form of galaxies.