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VLBA measurement promises complete picture of the Milky Way

12 October 2017 Astronomy Now

Astronomers using the National Science Foundation’s Very Long Baseline Array have directly measured the distance to a star-forming region on the opposite side of our Milky Way Galaxy from the Sun. Their achievement nearly doubles the previous record for distance measurement within our galaxy.

The skies above ESO’s Paranal Observatory resemble oil on water
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Within reach

16 April 2017 Astronomy Now

The skies above the European Southern Observatory’s Paranal Observatory resemble oil on water, as greens, yellows, and blues blend to create an iridescent skyscape.

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Ancient Stardust

2 April 2017 Astronomy Now

This spectacular image of the Milky Way by Gianni Krattli from France, is just one of this year’s Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition entrants released in a sneak peek by the Royal Observatory Greenwich.

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Hubble dates black hole’s last big meal

9 March 2017 Stephen Clark

For the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy, it’s been a long time between dinners. NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has found that the black hole ate its last big meal about 6 million years ago, when it consumed a large clump of infalling gas.

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Our galaxy’s black hole is spewing out planet-size ‘spitballs’

23 January 2017 Stephen Clark

Every few thousand years, an unlucky star wanders too close to the black hole at the center of the Milky Way. The black hole’s powerful gravity rips the star apart, sending a long streamer of gas whipping outward. That would seem to be the end of the story, but it’s not. New research shows that not only can the gas gather itself into planet-size objects, but those objects then are flung throughout the galaxy in a game of cosmic “spitball.”

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Festive nebulae light up Milky Way Galaxy satellite

23 December 2016 Stephen Clark

The sheer observing power of the Hubble Space Telescope is rarely better illustrated than in an image such as this. This glowing pink nebula, named NGC 248, is located in the Small Magellanic Cloud, just under 200,000 light-years away and yet can still be seen in great detail.

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Mystery of ultra-diffuse faint galaxies solved

29 November 2016 Astronomy Now

Over the last year, researchers have observed some very faint, diffuse galaxies. These so-called ultra-diffuse galaxies (UDGs) are as faint as dwarf galaxies but are distributed over an area just as large as the Milky Way. Now, a solution to the mystery of how such galaxies form has been found.

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Hubble spotlights irregular galaxy IC 3583

28 November 2016 Astronomy Now

This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image reveals a delicate blue group of stars — actually an irregular galaxy named IC 3583 — that sits some 30 million light-years away in the constellation of Virgo. This small galaxy is thought to be gravitationally interacting with one of its neighbours, the spiral Messier 90.