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Major supercluster of galaxies found hidden by the Milky Way

17 November 2016 Astronomy Now

An international team of astronomers has discovered a previously unknown major concentration of galaxies in the constellation Vela, which they have dubbed the Vela supercluster. The gravitational attraction from this large mass concentration in our cosmic neighbourhood may have an important effect on the motion of our Local Group of galaxies.

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Possibly the most powerful supernova ever seen

14 January 2016 Astronomy Now

Records are made to be broken, as the expression goes, but rarely are records left so thoroughly in the dust. Stunned astronomers have witnessed a cosmic explosion about 200 times more powerful than a typical supernova — events which already rank amongst the mightiest outbursts in the universe — and more than twice as luminous as the previous record-holding supernova.

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Modest-mass galaxy hosts oversized black hole: an evolutionary missing link?

24 September 2015 Astronomy Now

The central supermassive black hole of a recently discovered galaxy called SAGE0536AGN is far larger than should be possible, according to current theories of galactic evolution. The galaxy was found by accident with NASA’s Spitzer space telescope and is thought to be at least 9 billion years old. Time will tell whether SAGE0536AGN really is an oddball, or simply the first in a new class of galaxies.

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Last vestiges of surface water on Mars indicated by salt flat

9 August 2015 Astronomy Now

Mars turned cold and dry long ago, but scientists have discovered evidence of an ancient lake that likely represents some of the last potentially habitable surface water ever to exist on the Red Planet. University of Colorado Boulder researchers estimate that the lake was only about 8 percent as salty as the Earth’s oceans and therefore may have been hospitable to microbial life.

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Sun’s close encounter with Scholz’s Star

18 February 2015 Astronomy Now

Astronomers using large telescopes in South Africa and Chile identify the closest known flyby of a star to our Solar System: a low-mass star system nicknamed “Scholz’s Star” that passed through the Oort Cloud 70,000 years ago.