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Astronomical software accurately dates 2,500-year-old lyric poem

15 May 2016 Astronomy Now

Physicists and astronomers from the University of Texas at Arlington have used advanced software to accurately date lyric poet Sappho’s “Midnight Poem,” which describes the Pleiades star cluster in the constellation of Taurus having set at around midnight, when supposedly observed by her from the Greek island of Lesbos more than 2,500 years ago.

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LIGO’s twin black holes might have been born inside a single star

24 February 2016 Astronomy Now

On 14 September 2015, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detected gravitational waves from the merger of two black holes 29 and 36 times the mass of the Sun. New research suggests that the two black holes might have resided inside a single, massive star whose death generated a gamma-ray burst detected by the Fermi Space Telescope.

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Theorists propose a new method to probe the beginning of the universe

25 January 2016 Astronomy Now

How did the universe begin? And what came before the Big Bang? Astrophysicists have asked these questions ever since discovering that our universe is expanding. New research suggests that subatomic heavy particles act as “primordial standard clocks,” offering a way of probing the beginning of space and time to determine which of the competing cosmological theories is correct.

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Astronomer solves mystery of ‘born again’ stars with Hubble

7 December 2015 Astronomy Now

University of Texas astronomer Natalie Gosnell has used the Hubble Space Telescope to better understand why some stars aren’t evolving as predicted. These so-called “blue stragglers” look hotter and bluer than they should for their advanced age. It’s almost as it they were somehow reinvigorated to look much younger than they really are.

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Hubble survey reveals early galaxies were more efficient at making stars

21 November 2015 Astronomy Now

A study just published by University of Texas at Austin assistant professor Steven Finkelstein and colleagues reveals that galaxies were more efficient at making stars when the universe was younger. The announcement explains the team’s discovery that there are a lot more bright, highly star-forming galaxies in the early universe than scientists previously thought.

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The Giant Magellan Telescope Organisation breaks ground in Chile

16 November 2015 Astronomy Now

Leading scientists, senior officials, and representatives of an international consortium of universities and research institutions gathered on a remote mountaintop high in the Chilean Andes to celebrate groundbreaking for the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT). The instrument is poised to become the world’s largest telescope when it begins early operations in 2021.

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Dying white dwarf star suffers “irregular heartbeats”

27 August 2015 Astronomy Now

Astronomers at the University of Warwick analysing data from NASA’s Kepler spacecraft have discovered a unexpected anomaly in the ‘pulse’ of aging white dwarf star PG1149+057. In addition to the expected regular rhythm of pulsations, the researchers observed arrhythmic, massive outbursts, which significantly heated up the star’s surface for many hours.