Physicists are gearing up to send a re-engineered science instrument originally designed for lofty balloon flights high in Earth’s atmosphere to the International Space Station next week to broaden their knowledge of cosmic rays, subatomic particles traveling on intergalactic routes that could hold the key to unlocking mysteries about supernovas, black holes, pulsars and dark matter.
A NASA instrument built to help astronomers learn about the structure and behaviour of neutron stars, super-dense stellar skeletons left behind by massive explosions, has been mounted to an observation post outside the International Space Station after delivery aboard a SpaceX supply ship earlier this month.
The world’s largest filled single-dish radio telescope launched at the weekend, and it relies on a piece of West Australian innovation. The 500-metre-wide telescope — known as FAST — uses a data system developed at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy in Perth and the European Southern Observatory to manage the huge amounts of data it generates.
Astronomers have discovered a vast cloud of high-energy particles called a wind nebula around a rare ultra-magnetic neutron star, or magnetar, for the first time. The find offers a unique window into the properties, environment and outburst history of magnetars, which are the strongest magnets in the universe.
A computer simulation of the powerful jets generated by supermassive black holes at the centres of the largest galaxies explains why some burst forth as bright beacons visible across the universe, while others fall apart and never pierce the halo of the galaxy. A jet’s hot ionised gas is propelled by the twisting magnetic fields of the central rotating black hole.