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Massive galaxy discovered made almost entirely of dark matter

26 August 2016 Astronomy Now

An international team of astronomers has discovered a massive galaxy that consists of 99.99 percent dark matter. Even though it is relatively nearby, astronomers had missed the galaxy, named Dragonfly 44, for decades because it is very dim. The galaxy lies about 300 million light-years away in the constellation Coma.

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Keck Observatory measures oxygen in galaxy 12 billion years ago

4 August 2016 Astronomy Now

Astronomers have made the first accurate measurement of the abundance of oxygen in a distant galaxy. Oxygen is created inside stars and released into interstellar gas when stars die. Quantifying the amount of oxygen, the third-most abundant chemical element in the universe, is key to understanding how matter cycles in and out of galaxies.

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A team of super bright galaxies in the early universe

28 June 2016 Astronomy Now

In 2015, Dr. David Sobral of Lancaster University led a team that found the first example of a spectacularly bright galaxy in the young universe named CR7 which may harbour first generation stars. Now, astronomers have identified a family of incredible galaxies that could shed further light on the transformation of the early universe known as the “epoch of reionisation.”

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Hubble confirms new dark spot on Neptune

23 June 2016 Astronomy Now

New images captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope (HST) confirm the presence of a dark vortex roughly 3,000 miles (4,800 kilometres) across in the atmosphere of Neptune. Though similar features were seen during the Voyager 2 flyby of Neptune in 1989 and by the HST in 1994, this vortex is the first one observed on Neptune in the 21st century.

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Planet-devouring star reveals possible limestone debris: fossil marine life?

14 June 2016 Astronomy Now

A group of researchers using the W. M. Keck Observatory have discovered a planet-like body that may have been encrusted in limestone and is having its surface layers devoured by its deceased host star. The team found that the rocky material being accreted by the star could be comprised of minerals that are typically associated with marine life processes here on Earth.

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A young mammoth cluster of galaxies sighted in the early universe

25 May 2016 Astronomy Now

Astronomers have uncovered evidence for a vast collection of young galaxies 12 billion light years away. The newly discovered “proto-cluster” of galaxies, observed when the universe was only 1.7 billion years old (12 percent of its present age), is one of the most massive structures known at that distance.

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Astronomers confirm faintest early-universe galaxy ever detected

20 May 2016 Astronomy Now

An international team of scientists has detected and confirmed the faintest early-universe galaxy ever using the ten-metre Keck II telescope on the summit on Maunakea, Hawaii. The team analysed three separate images of the object gravitationally lensed by a foreground galaxy cluster, revealing the distant galaxy as it was 13 billion years ago.

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Dwarf planet Haumea’s lunar system smaller than anticipated

17 May 2016 Astronomy Now

Haumea, a dwarf planet on the edge of our solar system, doesn’t have the same kind of moons as its well-known cousin Pluto according to a new study. This is despite original evidence that suggested they both formed in similar giant impacts and adds to the mystery shrouding how these icy bodies formed.

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Speeding binary star discovered approaching galactic escape velocity

14 April 2016 Astronomy Now

There are about two dozen so-called hypervelocity stars known to be escaping our Milky Way galaxy, but PB 3877 is the first wide binary star found to travel at such a high speed. The results of a new study challenge the commonly accepted scenario that hypervelocity stars are accelerated by the supermassive black hole at the galactic centre.