Earth-bound CHARIS samples atmospheric gases of exoplanets

11 November 2016 Astronomy Now

A team of scientists and engineers led by Princeton University researchers recently reported the successful operation of a new instrument for the 8.2-metre Subaru Telescope at the Mauna Kea Observatory on Hawaii that will allow astronomers to make direct observations and take spectra of planets orbiting nearby stars.


Pluto’s interactions with the solar wind are unique

5 May 2016 Astronomy Now

Using data gathered by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft on its Pluto flyby in July 2015, the dwarf planet has some characteristics less like that of a comet and more like much larger planets, according to the first analysis of Pluto’s unique interaction with the solar wind — the charged particles that spew off from the Sun into the solar system at a supersonic 1 million mph.


Galaxy clusters reveal new dark matter insights

26 January 2016 Astronomy Now

Galaxy clusters, which consist of thousands of galaxies, are important for exploring dark matter because they reside in a region where such matter is much denser than average. Scientists believe that the heavier a cluster is, the more dark matter it has in its environment. But new research suggests the connection is more complicated than that.