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Breakthrough Listen searches new-found nearby planet Proxima b for signs of ET

8 November 2016 Astronomy Now

Breakthrough Listen, the 10-year, $100-million astronomical search for intelligent life beyond Earth launched in 2015 by Internet entrepreneur Yuri Milner and Stephen Hawking, has just announced its first observations of newly-discovered Earth-size planet Proxima b orbiting the nearest star to the Sun using the Parkes Radio Telescope in New South Wales, Australia.

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Breakthrough Listen to search for intelligent life around weird star

27 October 2016 Astronomy Now

Tabby’s star, otherwise known as KIC 8462852, has provoked so much excitement over the past year, with speculation that it hosts a highly advanced civilisation capable of building orbiting megastructures, that UC Berkeley’s Breakthrough Listen project is devoting hours of time on the Green Bank radio telescope to see if it can detect any extraterrestrial signals.

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NASA’s Fermi finds hints of gamma-ray cycle in active galaxy

14 November 2015 Astronomy Now

Astronomers using data from NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope have detected hints of periodic changes in the brightness of a so-called “active” galaxy, whose emissions are powered by a supersized black hole. If confirmed, the discovery would mark the first years-long cyclic gamma-ray emission ever detected from any galaxy, which could provide new insights into physical processes near the black hole.

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Vagabond supernovae flung into space by binary black-hole slingshots?

16 August 2015 Astronomy Now

A new analysis of 13 supernovae — including archived data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope — is helping astronomers explain how some young stars exploded sooner than expected, hurling them to a lonely place far from their host galaxies. It’s a complicated mystery of double-star systems, merging galaxies, and twin black holes.

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Lick Observatory joins search for intelligent life in the universe

21 July 2015 Astronomy Now

The Breakthrough Prize Foundation announced a $100 million initiative to dramatically reinvigorate the search for intelligent life in the universe over the next ten years. Lick Observatory’s Automated Planet Finder (APF) Telescope will undertake a new deep and broad search for optical laser transmissions from nearby civilisations, if any exist.

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Google gives Lick Observatory $1 million

10 February 2015 Astronomy Now

Recent budget cuts suggested a bleak outlook for Lick Observatory atop Mount Hamilton in California, but a substantial gift from internet giant Google gives this historic teaching and research facility hope for a brighter future.