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Mapping the cosmic web with fast radio bursts

21 November 2016 Astronomy Now

Fast radio bursts, or FRBs, are mysterious flashes of radio waves originating outside our Milky Way galaxy. A team of scientists, jointly led by Caltech postdoctoral scholar Vikram Ravi and Curtin University research fellow Ryan Shannon, has now observed the most luminous FRB to date, called FRB 150807.

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Who stole all the stars?

11 October 2016 Astronomy Now

Investigating the millions of missing stars from the centres of two big galaxies, researchers say they may have solved this cosmic whodunit — and the main culprits are not the usual suspects. While the astronomers confirm that one of the depleted cores is the largest ever detected, they report that it may not have formed in the manner previously thought.

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Deepest 3-D galaxy map suggests Einstein’s theory stands true

11 May 2016 Astronomy Now

Using data from the 8.2-metre Subaru Telescope, an international team led by Japanese researchers has made a 3-D map of 3,000 galaxies 13 billion light-years from Earth. Based on this comprehensive survey — the first such study at this great distance — the team was able to confirm that Einstein’s general theory of relativity is still valid.

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Astronomers detect double ‘peanut shell’ galaxies

8 May 2016 Astronomy Now

Astronomers at Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, have discovered an unusually shaped structure in two nearby disc galaxies. The Swinburne team recently developed new imaging software, making it possible to observe the double “peanut shell shape” formed by the distribution of stars bulging from the centres of these galaxies.

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Adding a new dimension to the early chemistry of the solar system

6 February 2016 Astronomy Now

An international research team has used sophisticated computer simulations to calculate a two-dimensional map of the dust chemistry in the solar nebula, the thin dusty disc that surrounded the young Sun and out of which the planets formed. The study has given new insights into the chemical composition of the dust grains that formed in the solar system 4.5 billion years ago.

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Ancient gas cloud may be a relic from the death of first stars

8 January 2016 Astronomy Now

Researchers from Australia and the USA have discovered a distant, ancient cloud of gas that may contain the signature of the very first stars that formed in the universe. The gas cloud is many billions of light-years away from Earth, and is observed as it was just 1.8 billion years after the Big Bang.

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Fossil globular star clusters reveal their age

28 July 2015 Astronomy Now

Using a new age-dating method and the W. M. Keck Observatory, an international team of astronomers have determined that globular star clusters formed in two distinct epochs — 12.5 and 11.5 billion years ago. They formed alongside galaxies, rather than prior to galaxies, as previously thought.