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New distant dwarf planet found beyond Neptune

11 July 2016 Astronomy Now

An international team of astronomers have discovered a new dwarf planet orbiting beyond Neptune. The object is roughly 435 miles in size, moving in a 700-year orbit that takes it more than 120 times further from the Sun than Earth. Designated 2015 RR245, it was found using the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope on Maunakea, Hawaii.

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Measuring the pull of gravity at the surface of distant stars

1 January 2016 Astronomy Now

An international team of researchers have found a new way to measure the pull of gravity at the surface of a star. The new method allows scientists to measure surface gravity with an accuracy of about four percent, for stars too distant and too faint to apply current techniques. For remote stars with planets orbiting them, this information is key in determining whether any of those planets can harbour life.

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Mysterious energy bursts provide new way to chart the cosmos in 3-D

20 September 2015 Astronomy Now

In deep space, some unknown astrophysical phenomenon is causing mysterious bursts of energy that appear as short flashes of radio waves. In a University of British Columbia study, researchers propose a new way to calculate cosmological distances using these fast radio bursts. The method allows researchers to position distant galaxies in three dimensions and map out the cosmos.

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Pulsar study suggests force of gravity constant throughout universe

7 August 2015 Astronomy Now

Gravity, one of the four fundamental forces of nature, appears reassuringly constant across the universe, according to a decades-long study of a distant pulsar. This research helps to answer a long-standing question in cosmology: Is the force of gravity the same everywhere and at all times? The answer, so far, appears to be yes.

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Hubble catches a stellar exodus in action

17 May 2015 Astronomy Now

Using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have captured for the first time snapshots of fledgling white dwarf stars beginning their slow-paced, 40-million-year migration from the crowded centre of giant globular cluster 47 Tucanae to the less populated suburbs.