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Underground magma ocean could explain Io’s ‘misplaced’ volcanoes

13 September 2015 Astronomy Now

Jupiter’s moon Io is the most volcanically active world in the solar system, with hundreds of volcanoes, some erupting lava fountains up to 250 miles high. New NASA research suggests that tides flowing in a subsurface ocean of molten rock, or magma, could explain why Io’s volcanoes appear in the “wrong” place compared to models that predict how the moon’s interior is heated.

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A new record: Keck Observatory measures most distant galaxy

6 August 2015 Astronomy Now

EGSY8p7 is the most distant confirmed galaxy whose spectrum obtained with the W. M. Keck Observatory places it at a redshift of 8.68, at a time when the universe was less than 600 million years old. Hydrogen emission from EGSY8p7 may indicate it is the first known example of an early generation of young galaxies emitting unusually strong radiation.

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Exiled stars explode far from home

5 June 2015 Astronomy Now

Hubble Space Telescope images confirm that three supernovae discovered several years ago exploded in the dark emptiness of intergalactic space — their nearest neighbours probably 300 light-years away — having been flung from their home galaxies millions or billions of years earlier.

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Construction to begin on world’s largest optical telescope

3 June 2015 Astronomy Now

Collaborators secure more than $500 million for the historic $1 billion project to build the Giant Magellan Telescope — a seven-mirror colossus gathering more than six times the amount of light of the current largest optical telescopes into images up to 10 times sharper than those of the Hubble Space Telescope.

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Universe expanding more slowly than previously thought?

13 April 2015 Astronomy Now

A University of Arizona-led team of astronomers found that the type of supernovae commonly used to measure distances in the universe fall into distinct populations not recognised before. The findings have implications for our understanding of how fast the universe has been expanding since the Big Bang.