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Potentially habitable super-Earth K2-3d observed transiting parent star

28 November 2016 Astronomy Now

A group of researchers has observed the first ground-based transit observation of K2-3d — a potentially Earth-like extrasolar planet supposedly within the habitable zone around a bright M-dwarf host star 147 light-years away — using the multi-band imager MuSCAT on the Okayama Astrophysical Observatory’s 1.88-metre telescope.

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Unusual Martian region leaves clues to planet’s past

27 September 2016 Astronomy Now

Researchers studying the geography and mineralogy of an area on Mars known as Thaumasia Planum, based on Gamma Ray Spectrometer data collected by the Mars Odyssey Orbiter launched in 2001, have found that the mountain ridge outlining Greater Thaumasia was most likely created by a chain of ancient volcanoes.

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A giant stellar void in the Milky Way

2 August 2016 Astronomy Now

A major revision is required in our understanding of the Milky Way Galaxy according to an international team led by Professor Noriyuki Matsunaga of the University of Tokyo. The Japanese, South African and Italian astronomers found a huge region around the centre of our own galaxy which is devoid of young stars.

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ALMA detects most distant signs of oxygen in the universe

17 June 2016 Astronomy Now

An international team of astronomers has used the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array (ALMA) to detect glowing oxygen in a distant galaxy seen just 700 million years after the Big Bang. This is the most distant galaxy in which oxygen has ever been unambiguously detected, and it is most likely being ionised by powerful radiation from young giant stars.

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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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ASTRO-H satellite poised to enhance views of X-ray sky

7 February 2016 Astronomy Now

A new science satellite, the ASTRO-H X-ray Observatory, will blast into Earth orbit this month. The project, led by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), aims to collect a wealth of new data on everything from the formation of galaxy clusters to the warping of space and time around black holes. ASTRO-H boasts a sensitivity level that is orders of magnitude better than previous technology.

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ALMA spots monstrous baby galaxies cradled in dark matter

6 December 2015 Astronomy Now

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array (ALMA) have discovered a nest of colossal baby galaxies 11.5 billion light-years away. The young galaxies seem to reside at the junction of gigantic filaments in a web of dark matter. These findings are important for understanding how enormous galaxies like these are formed and how they evolve into huge elliptical galaxies.

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Citizen scientists discover gravitational lenses via Space Warps project

26 September 2015 Astronomy Now

Around 37,000 citizen scientists combed through 430,000 images to help an international team of researchers to discover 29 new gravitational lens candidates through Space Warps — an online classification system which guides citizen scientists to become lens hunters, giving the public a chance to make their own scientific discoveries.