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Astronomers identify a new class of medium-sized black holes

21 September 2015 Astronomy Now

Nearly all black holes come in one of two sizes: stellar mass black holes that weigh up to a few dozen times the mass of our Sun, or supermassive black holes ranging from a million to several billion times the Sun’s mass. A team led by astronomers at the University of Maryland and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center has found evidence for a new intermediate-mass black hole about 5,000 times the mass of our star.

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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 view of the Moon’s formation

8 April 2015 Astronomy Now

A crucial difference in the isotopic chemical “fingerprints” of Earth and the Moon confirms an explosive, interconnected past when, within the first 150 million years after our Solar System formed, a giant body roughly the size of Mars struck the Earth.

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Supermassive black hole blasts star-making gas from galaxy’s core

26 March 2015 Astronomy Now

Many galaxies blast huge, wide-angled flows of material outward from their centres, pushing to their outer edges enough dust and gas each year that otherwise would have formed more than a thousand stars the size of our Sun. A team led by University of Maryland scientists has found the driving force behind these massive molecular outflows.