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‘Frankenstein’ galaxy UGC 1382 surprises astronomers

13 July 2016 Astronomy Now

About 250 million light-years away, there’s a neighbourhood of our universe that astronomers had considered quiet and unremarkable. But now, scientists have uncovered an enormous, bizarre galaxy possibly formed from the parts of other galaxies. Some 718,000 light-years across, UGC 1382 is more than seven times wider than the Milky Way.

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First-ever evidence of exoplanetary system found on 1917 photograph

13 April 2016 Astronomy Now

You can never predict what treasure might be hiding in your own basement. A researcher looking for a spectrum of a white dwarf known as van Maanen’s star found a 1917 image on an astronomical glass plate from the Carnegie Observatories’ collection that shows the first-ever evidence of a planetary system beyond our own Sun.

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The Giant Magellan Telescope Organisation breaks ground in Chile

16 November 2015 Astronomy Now

Leading scientists, senior officials, and representatives of an international consortium of universities and research institutions gathered on a remote mountaintop high in the Chilean Andes to celebrate groundbreaking for the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT). The instrument is poised to become the world’s largest telescope when it begins early operations in 2021.

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Construction to begin on world’s largest optical telescope

3 June 2015 Astronomy Now

Collaborators secure more than $500 million for the historic $1 billion project to build the Giant Magellan Telescope — a seven-mirror colossus gathering more than six times the amount of light of the current largest optical telescopes into images up to 10 times sharper than those of the Hubble Space Telescope.

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Ancient quasar with massive black hole found at cosmic dawn

25 February 2015 Astronomy Now

An international team of astronomers has found a huge and ancient black hole which was powering the brightest object in the early universe. The black hole’s mass is 12 billion times that of the Sun, and was at the centre of a quasar that pumped out a million billion times the energy of our star.

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Sun’s close encounter with Scholz’s Star

18 February 2015 Astronomy Now

Astronomers using large telescopes in South Africa and Chile identify the closest known flyby of a star to our Solar System: a low-mass star system nicknamed “Scholz’s Star” that passed through the Oort Cloud 70,000 years ago.