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Infant stars discovered surprisingly near galaxy’s supermassive black hole

28 November 2017 Astronomy Now

At the centre of our galaxy, in the immediate vicinity of its supermassive black hole, is a region wracked by powerful tidal forces and bathed in intense ultraviolet light and X-ray radiation. These harsh conditions, astronomers surmise, do not favour star formation, especially low-mass stars like our Sun. Surprisingly, new observations suggest otherwise.

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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.

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VLA reveals new object near supermassive black hole in famous galaxy

23 May 2017 Astronomy Now

Pointing the Very Large Array at a famous galaxy for the first time in two decades, a team of astronomers got a big surprise, finding that a bright new object had appeared near the galaxy’s core. The object, the scientists concluded, is either a very rare type of supernova explosion or, more likely, an outburst from a second supermassive black hole closely orbiting the galaxy’s primary, central supermassive black hole.

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Icy ring around Fomalhaut observed in new wavelength

19 May 2017 Astronomy Now

An international team of astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array has made the first complete millimeter-wavelength image of the ring of dusty debris surrounding the young star Fomalhaut. This remarkably well-defined band of rubble and gas is likely the result of exocomets smashing together near the outer edges of a planetary system 25 light-years from Earth.

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Interacting galaxies produce eye-shaped “tsunami” of stars

5 November 2016 Astronomy Now

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array (ALMA) have discovered a tsunami of stars and gas that is crashing midway through the disc of a spiral galaxy known as IC 2163. This colossal wave of material — which was triggered when IC 2163 recently sideswiped another spiral galaxy dubbed NGC 2207 — produced dazzling arcs of intense star formation that resemble a pair of eyelids.

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Galactic merger exposes supermassive black hole

4 November 2016 Astronomy Now

Astronomers using the super-sharp radio vision of the National Science Foundation’s Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) have found the shredded remains of a galaxy that passed through a larger galaxy, leaving only the smaller galaxy’s nearly-naked supermassive black hole to emerge and speed away at more than 2,000 miles per second.

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ALMA witnesses the birth of a triple-star system

28 October 2016 Astronomy Now

A rare triple-star system surrounded by a disc with a spiral structure has been discovered by a global team of researchers. Recent observations from the Atacama Large Millimetre / submillimetre Array (ALMA) resulted in the discovery, lending support for evidence of disc fragmentation — a process leading to the formation of young binary and multiple star systems.

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Green Bank Observatory: the making of an American astronomy icon

10 October 2016 Astronomy Now

Astronomers have just celebrated the inauguration of the Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia, home to the 100-metre Green Bank Telescope, one of the world’s most powerful astronomical instruments. During its 60-year history, Green Bank has been home to some of the world’s most innovative and productive radio telescopes.

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Protoplanetary disc’s spiral arms embrace young star

1 October 2016 Astronomy Now

Swirling around the young star Elias 2-27 is a stunning spiral-shape pinwheel of dust. This striking feature, seen with the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array (ALMA), is the product of density waves — gravitational perturbations in the star’s protoplanetary disc that produce sweeping arms reminiscent of a spiral galaxy, but on a much smaller scale.