News

Supermassive black hole found in an unlikely place

7 April 2016 Astronomy Now

A near-record 17-billion-solar-mass black hole discovered in a sparse area of the local universe indicates that these monster objects may be more common than once thought. The newly discovered supermassive black hole is in NGC 1600, an elliptical galaxy in the constellation Eridanus some 149 million light-years away.

News

New research shows quasars slowed pace of star formation

24 March 2016 Astronomy Now

Galaxies reached their busiest star-making pace about 11 billion years ago, then slowed down. Scientists have puzzled for years over the question of what happened. Now researchers have found evidence supporting the argument that the answer was energy feedback from quasars within the galaxies where stars are born.

News

Clocking the rotation rate of a supermassive black hole

11 March 2016 Astronomy Now

A recent observational campaign involving more than two dozen optical telescopes and NASA’s space-based SWIFT X-ray telescope allowed a team of astronomers to measure very accurately the rotational rate of one of the most massive black holes in the universe. The black hole powers a quasar called OJ 287 which lies about 3.5 billion light-years away from Earth.

Picture This

The sleeping giant in elliptical galaxy NGC 4889

11 February 2016 Astronomy Now

The placid appearance of NGC 4889 can fool the unsuspecting observer. But the elliptical galaxy, pictured here in front of hundreds of background galaxies, and deeply embedded within the Coma galaxy cluster in this new image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, harbours a dark secret. At its heart lurks one of the most massive black holes ever discovered.

News

Noodle-shaped plasma lenses may lurk in the Milky Way

22 January 2016 Astronomy Now

According to a team of astronomers led by Dr. Keith Bannister of CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science Division in Australia, invisible noodle- or shell-shaped plasma structures could be floating around in the Milky Way. These structures, which focus and defocus radio waves from distant sources such as quasars, could radically change our ideas about the Galaxy’s interstellar gas.