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Spiral-like patterns of star formation discovered in old galaxies

22 November 2016 Astronomy Now

Elliptical and Lenticular galaxies (historically referred to as early-type galaxies) are thought to be no longer giving birth to new stars. Now, a team led by astronomers from the Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciências do Espaço (IA) in Portugal has discovered optical spiral features in the outskirts of three nearby early-type galaxies, which points to a still ongoing inside-out growth.

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Record-breaking dwarf satellite galaxy of the Milky Way discovered

21 November 2016 Astronomy Now

An international team has found an extremely faint dwarf satellite galaxy of the Milky Way using the Hyper Suprime-Cam (HSC) on the 8.2-metre Subaru Telescope located at the Mauna Kea Observatory on Hawaii. Named Virgo I, the galaxy lies 280,000 light-years away in the constellation of Virgo. The galaxy may well be the faintest satellite galaxy yet found.

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Starvation diet for supermassive black hole dims brilliant galaxy

10 November 2016 Astronomy Now

Astronomers may have solved the mystery of the peculiar volatile behaviour of a supermassive black hole at the centre of a galaxy known as Markarian 1018 some 590 million light-years away. Combined data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and other observatories suggest that the black hole is no longer being fed enough fuel to make its surroundings shine brightly.

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Discovering the X-ray treasures in Chandra’s archives

16 October 2016 Astronomy Now

Each year, NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory helps celebrate American Archive Month by releasing a collection of images using X-ray data. Each of these six new images — representing just a small fraction of the treasures that reside in Chandra’s unique archive — also includes data from telescopes covering other parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, such as visible and infrared light.

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A young mammoth cluster of galaxies sighted in the early universe

25 May 2016 Astronomy Now

Astronomers have uncovered evidence for a vast collection of young galaxies 12 billion light years away. The newly discovered “proto-cluster” of galaxies, observed when the universe was only 1.7 billion years old (12 percent of its present age), is one of the most massive structures known at that distance.

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Speeding binary star discovered approaching galactic escape velocity

14 April 2016 Astronomy Now

There are about two dozen so-called hypervelocity stars known to be escaping our Milky Way galaxy, but PB 3877 is the first wide binary star found to travel at such a high speed. The results of a new study challenge the commonly accepted scenario that hypervelocity stars are accelerated by the supermassive black hole at the galactic centre.

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Volunteer programmers help astronomers find mysterious black holes

23 January 2016 Astronomy Now

An international team of astronomers led by Ivan Zolotukhin from Lomonosov Moscow State University is close to understanding one of the most important mysteries of modern astronomy — so-called intermediate-mass black holes. The researchers acknowledge the invaluable assistance of volunteer Russian computer programmers in the search.

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Proof that some galaxies are LIERs

11 January 2016 Astronomy Now

You might think that astronomers could easily tell the difference between a black hole and a white dwarf — but nature can be deceptive. Astronomers from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) have just announced the results of a new study that reveals the true origin of puzzling light from nearby galaxies.

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The case of the missing quasar

9 January 2016 Astronomy Now

Astronomers can’t find any sign of the black hole at the centre of the quasar SDSS J1011+5442, and they couldn’t be happier. The black hole is still there, of course, but over the past ten years, it appears to have swallowed all the gas in its vicinity. With the gas consumed, researchers were unable to detect the spectroscopic signature of the quasar, which now appears as an otherwise normal galaxy.

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‘Radio phoenix’ rises from the ashes of galaxy cluster collision

28 August 2015 Astronomy Now

Astronomers have found evidence for a faded electron cloud “coming back to life,” much like the mythical phoenix, after two galaxy clusters collided. This “radio phoenix,” so-called because the high-energy electrons radiate primarily at radio frequencies, is found in Abell 1033. This galaxy cluster collision is located about 1.6 billion light-years from Earth.