News

Major supercluster of galaxies found hidden by the Milky Way

17 November 2016 Astronomy Now

An international team of astronomers has discovered a previously unknown major concentration of galaxies in the constellation Vela, which they have dubbed the Vela supercluster. The gravitational attraction from this large mass concentration in our cosmic neighbourhood may have an important effect on the motion of our Local Group of galaxies.

News

Behind the scenes of protostellar disc formation

11 July 2016 Astronomy Now

For a long time the formation of protostellar discs — a prerequisite to the formation of planetary systems — has defied theoretical astrophysicists. Now, researchers have made a breakthrough in our understanding of how protoplanetary discs form, demonstrating that chemistry and microphysics are crucial to the fundamental processes underlying star and planet formation.

News

Successful first observations of galactic centre with GRAVITY instrument

23 June 2016 Astronomy Now

A European team of astronomers have used the new GRAVITY instrument at ESO’s Very Large Telescope to obtain exciting observations of the centre of the Milky Way by combining light from all four of the 8.2-metre Unit Telescopes for the first time. These results provide a taste of the groundbreaking science that GRAVITY will produce as it tests Einstein’s general relativity.

News

A new view of the X-ray sky

26 March 2016 Astronomy Now

In the 1990s, the ROSAT X-ray satellite performed the first deep all-sky survey. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) have revisited the all-sky survey, publishing an extended “2RXS catalogue” — the deepest and cleanest X-ray all-sky survey to date.

News

First light for future black hole probe

13 January 2016 Astronomy Now

Zooming in on black holes is the main mission for the newly installed GRAVITY instrument at ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile. During its first observations, GRAVITY successfully combined starlight using all four 1.8-metre Auxiliary Telescopes. The first observations using GRAVITY with the four 8-metre VLT Unit Telescopes are planned for later in 2016.

News

ALMA reveals planetary construction sites around young stars

20 December 2015 Astronomy Now

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array (ALMA) have found the clearest indications yet that planets with masses several times that of Jupiter have recently formed in the discs of gas and dust around four young stars. Measurements of the gas around the stars also provide additional clues about the properties of those planets.

News

Accretion process same for growth of stars and black holes

19 October 2015 Astronomy Now

One of the most important but least understood processes in astronomy is accretion, where the mass of an object grows by gravitationally collecting material from nearby. Now an international team has discovered that that the process by which astronomical objects grow is fundamentally the same, regardless of the type, mass or size of the object.