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Possible exomoon signal found

29 July 2017 Keith Cooper

Strong hints have been found of a possible exomoon candidate orbiting a gas giant planet over 4,000 light years away in the constellation of Cygnus the Swan. Should the moon be confirmed later this year by the Hubble Space Telescope, it will be the first moon ever discovered around a planet beyond our Solar System.

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Milky Way’s most-mysterious star is even stranger than astronomers thought

4 October 2016 Astronomy Now

A star known as KIC 8462852 in the constellation Cygnus has been raising eyebrows both in and outside of the scientific community for the past year. In 2015 a team of astronomers announced that the star underwent a series of very brief, non-periodic dimming events while being monitored by NASA’s Kepler space telescope. A new study has deepened the mystery.

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Pirouetting Pleiads provide clues to stellar structure and evolution

13 August 2016 Astronomy Now

Like cosmic ballet dancers, the stars of the Pleiades cluster are spinning, but all at different speeds. By watching these stellar dancers, NASA’s Kepler space telescope has helped amass the most complete catalogue of rotation periods for stars in a cluster. This information can provide insight into where and how planets form around these stars, and how such stars evolve.

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Warm Jupiters are not as lonely as expected

15 July 2016 Astronomy Now

After analysing four years of observations from NASA’s Kepler space telescope, astronomers from the University of Toronto have given us our clearest understanding yet of a class of exoplanets called “warm Jupiters,” showing that many have unexpected planetary companions.

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New planet Kepler-1647b is largest discovered that orbits two suns

13 June 2016 Astronomy Now

If you cast your eyes toward the constellation Cygnus, you’ll be looking in the direction of the largest planet yet discovered with the widest orbit around a double-star system. It’s too faint to see with the naked eye, but a team led by astronomers from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and San Diego State University used NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope to identify the new planet.

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Stifling atmospheres could limit number of habitable exoplanets

26 May 2016 Astronomy Now

New research reveals that fewer than predicted planets may be capable of harbouring life because their atmospheres keep them too hot. Computer simulations show that planets similar to or larger in mass than the Earth that are born with thick envelopes of hydrogen and helium are likely to retain their stifling atmospheres.

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Stars nearly as old as Sun found to have similar spin rates

17 May 2016 Astronomy Now

Astrophysicists from Germany and America have for the first time measured the rotation periods of stars in a cluster nearly as old as the Sun. It turns out that these stars spin once in about twenty-six days — just like our Sun. This discovery significantly strengthens what is known as the solar-stellar connection, a fundamental principle that guides much of modern solar and stellar astrophysics.

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2007 OR10: the largest unnamed world in the solar system

12 May 2016 Astronomy Now

By combining data from two space observatories, astronomers have revealed something surprising: a 955-mile-wide dwarf planet named 2007 OR10 is significantly larger than previously thought. Although its 547-year-long elliptical orbit brings it nearly as close to the Sun as Neptune, 2007 OR10 is currently twice as far from the Sun as Pluto.

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Natural causes, not aliens, explain mystery star’s behaviour

10 May 2016 Astronomy Now

Media interest went viral last October when a group of astronomers from Pennsylvania State University cited that the “bizarre light curve” of KIC 8462852, popularly known as Tabby’s star, was “consistent with” a swarm of alien-constructed megastructures. Now, the results of a new study make it far less likely that KIC 8462852 is the home of industrious extraterrestrials.

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Searching for distant and wandering worlds

10 April 2016 Astronomy Now

In a global exoplanet observation experiment, NASA’s Kepler K2 mission and Earth-based observatories on six continents hope to survey millions of stars toward the centre of our Milky Way galaxy. Using a technique called gravitational microlensing, scientists will hunt for exoplanets that orbit far from their host star and for free-floating exoplanets that wander between the stars.