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Possible link between primordial black holes and dark matter

24 May 2016 Astronomy Now

Dark matter is a mysterious substance composing most of the material universe, now widely thought to be some form of massive exotic particle. An intriguing alternative view is that dark matter is made of black holes formed during the first second of our universe’s existence, known as primordial black holes.

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Chandra captures expanding debris from Tycho’s supernova remnant

13 May 2016 Astronomy Now

Astronomers have observed the debris field from the supernova of 1572, now known as Tycho’s supernova remnant, with NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the NSF’s Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA). By combining the X-ray data with some 30 years of observations in radio waves, astronomers have also produced a movie showing the expansion from the explosion is still continuing 444 years later.

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Chandra sees comets in the “X”-treme

18 April 2016 Astronomy Now

Scientists have determined that comets produce X-ray emission when particles in the solar wind strike the comet’s atmosphere. Recently, astronomers announced the results of a study using data collected with NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory of two comets — C/2012 S1 ISON and C/2011 S4 PanSTARRS — when both were relatively close to Earth.

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Trigger for Milky Way’s youngest supernova identified

31 March 2016 Astronomy Now

Astronomers have used data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the VLA to determine the likely trigger for the most recent supernova in the Milky Way. They applied a new technique that could have implications for understanding other Type Ia supernovae, a class of stellar explosions that scientists use to determine the expansion rate of the universe.

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Solar storms ignite X-ray aurorae on Jupiter

22 March 2016 Astronomy Now

Solar storms are triggering X-ray aurorae on Jupiter that are about eight times brighter than normal over a large area of the planet and hundreds of times more energetic than Earth’s “northern lights,” according to a new study using data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory when a giant solar storm arrived at the planet.

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A cosmic kaleidoscope seen through multi-spectral eyes

21 March 2016 Astronomy Now

At first glance, this cosmic kaleidoscope of purple, blue and pink offers a strikingly beautiful — and serene — snapshot of the cosmos. However, this multi-coloured haze actually marks the site of two colliding galaxy clusters, forming a single object known as MACS J0416.1-2403 (or MACS J0416 for short), 4.3 billion light-years away from Earth.

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Telescopes combine to push frontier on galaxy clusters

12 March 2016 Astronomy Now

Galaxy clusters are enormous collections of hundreds or even thousands of galaxies and vast reservoirs of hot gas embedded in massive clouds of dark matter. To learn more about clusters, including how they grow via collisions, astronomers have used some of the world’s most powerful X-ray, optical and radio telescopes. The name for this galaxy cluster project is the “Frontier Fields”.

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Glow from the Big Bang allows discovery of distant black hole jet

17 February 2016 Astronomy Now

Astronomers have used NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory to discover a jet from a very distant supermassive black hole being illuminated by the oldest light in the universe. This discovery shows that black holes with powerful jets may be more common than previously thought in the first few billion years after the Big Bang.

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Astronomers find a rare supernova ‘impostor’ in a nearby galaxy

13 February 2016 Astronomy Now

In May 2010, a South African amateur astronomer pointed his telescope toward nearby galaxy NGC 300 and discovered what appeared to be a supernova — a massive star ending its life in a blaze of glory. However, SN 2010da is what we call a ‘supernova impostor’ — something initially thought to be a supernova, but later releaved as a massive star showing an enormous flare of activity.

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Blast from black hole in distant Pictor A galaxy

2 February 2016 Astronomy Now

By combining X-ray data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory over a 15-year period with radio data from the Australia Telescope Compact Array, astronomers have a better understanding of the active galaxy Pictor A, the supermassive black hole at its core and the enormous jet of particles it generates travelling at nearly the speed of light into intergalactic space.