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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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First-ever evidence of exoplanetary system found on 1917 photograph

13 April 2016 Astronomy Now

You can never predict what treasure might be hiding in your own basement. A researcher looking for a spectrum of a white dwarf known as van Maanen’s star found a 1917 image on an astronomical glass plate from the Carnegie Observatories’ collection that shows the first-ever evidence of a planetary system beyond our own Sun.

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High-speed CHIMERA to scout for Kuiper Belt objects

4 March 2016 Astronomy Now

At the Palomar Observatory near San Diego, astronomers are busy tinkering with a high-tech instrument that could discover a variety of objects both far from Earth and closer to home. The Caltech HIgh-speed Multi-colour camERA (CHIMERA) system is looking for objects in the Kuiper Belt, the band of icy bodies beyond the orbit of Neptune that includes Pluto.

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Merging black holes responsible for mysterious flickering quasar

16 September 2015 Astronomy Now

Columbia University astronomers provide additional evidence that a pair of closely orbiting black holes deep in the Virgo constellation is causing the rhythmic flashes of light coming from quasar PG 1302-102. Separated by a mere light-week, the black holes are spiralling toward a collision so powerful it will send a burst of gravitational waves surging through the fabric of space-time.

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Enormous planet found to be in a quadruple star system

7 March 2015 Astronomy Now

Astronomers have discovered the second known case of a four-star planetary system. The planet was known before and has a mass ten times that of Jupiter, but was thought to have only three parent stars, not four. The findings help researchers understand how multiple star systems can influence the development and fate of planets.