News

Best ever image of another star’s surface and atmosphere

26 August 2017 Astronomy Now

Using ESO’s Very Large Telescope Interferometer astronomers have constructed the most detailed image ever of a star — the red supergiant star Antares. They have also made the first map of the velocities of material in the atmosphere of a star other than the Sun, revealing unexpected turbulence in Antares’s huge extended atmosphere.

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Magnified image of the faintest galaxy from the early universe

5 December 2015 Astronomy Now

Astronomers harnessing the combined power of NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes have found the faintest object ever seen in the early universe. It existed about 400 million years after the big bang, 13.8 billion years ago. The new object is comparable in size to the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), a diminutive satellite galaxy of our Milky Way.

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Oodles of faint dwarf galaxies shed light on cosmological mystery

24 November 2015 Astronomy Now

Computer simulations of the evolution of matter distribution in the universe predict hundreds of low mass dwarf galaxies for every Milky Way-like galaxy. An international team of astronomers recently announced the discovery of an astonishing number of faint low surface brightness dwarf galaxies in the Fornax Cluster, suggesting that the “missing satellites” are now being found.

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VISTA telescope discovers new component of Milky Way

28 October 2015 Astronomy Now

Astronomers using the VISTA telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory have discovered a previously unknown component of the Milky Way. By mapping out the locations of a class of stars that vary in brightness called Cepheids, a disc of young stars buried behind thick dust clouds in the central bulge has been found.

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Researchers find a new way to weigh pulsars

5 October 2015 Astronomy Now

Until now, scientists have determined the mass of stars, planets and moons by studying their motion in relation to others nearby, using the gravitational pull between the two as the basis for their calculations. However, in the case of young pulsars, mathematicians at the University of Southampton have now found a new way to measure their mass — even if a star exists on its own in space.

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The dark side of globular star clusters

14 May 2015 Astronomy Now

Observations with ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile have discovered a new class of “dark” globular star clusters around the giant galaxy Centaurus A. These mysterious objects look similar to normal clusters, but contain much more mass and may either harbour unexpected amounts of dark matter, or contain massive black holes — neither of which was expected nor is understood.