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VLA reveals new object near supermassive black hole in famous galaxy

23 May 2017 Astronomy Now

Pointing the Very Large Array at a famous galaxy for the first time in two decades, a team of astronomers got a big surprise, finding that a bright new object had appeared near the galaxy’s core. The object, the scientists concluded, is either a very rare type of supernova explosion or, more likely, an outburst from a second supermassive black hole closely orbiting the galaxy’s primary, central supermassive black hole.

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‘Frankenstein’ galaxy UGC 1382 surprises astronomers

13 July 2016 Astronomy Now

About 250 million light-years away, there’s a neighbourhood of our universe that astronomers had considered quiet and unremarkable. But now, scientists have uncovered an enormous, bizarre galaxy possibly formed from the parts of other galaxies. Some 718,000 light-years across, UGC 1382 is more than seven times wider than the Milky Way.

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Earth-space telescope observations of quasar 3C 273’s hot heart

30 March 2016 Astronomy Now

Astronomers using an orbiting radio telescope in conjunction with four ground-based radio telescopes have achieved the highest resolution, or ability to discern fine detail, of any astronomical observation ever made. The researchers were surprised when their Earth-space system revealed a core temperature hotter than 10 trillion degrees for quasar 3C 273.

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Citizen scientists make good black-hole hunters

8 September 2015 Astronomy Now

Trained volunteers are as good as professional astronomers at finding jets shooting from massive black holes and matching them to their host galaxies, research suggests. Scientists working on citizen science project Radio Galaxy Zoo developed an online tutorial to teach volunteers how to spot black holes and other objects that emit energy through radio waves.

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Neutron star takes on black holes in jet contest

5 August 2015 Astronomy Now

A team of scientists in Australia and the Netherlands has discovered powerful jets blasting out of a star system known as PSR J1023+0038 that consists of a super-dense neutron star in a close orbit with another, more normal star. It was previously thought that the only objects in the universe capable of forming such powerful jets were black holes.

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“Failed stars” host powerful auroral displays

30 July 2015 Astronomy Now

Brown dwarfs are relatively cool, dim objects that are too massive to be planets, yet they are too small to sustain hydrogen fusion reactions. By observing a brown dwarf 20 light-years away, researchers have found another feature that makes these so-called failed stars more like supersized planets — they host powerful aurorae near their magnetic poles.