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Pulsar study suggests force of gravity constant throughout universe

7 August 2015 Astronomy Now

Gravity, one of the four fundamental forces of nature, appears reassuringly constant across the universe, according to a decades-long study of a distant pulsar. This research helps to answer a long-standing question in cosmology: Is the force of gravity the same everywhere and at all times? The answer, so far, appears to be yes.

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The ghost of a dying star — the Southern Owl Nebula

5 August 2015 Astronomy Now

This extraordinary bubble, glowing like the ghost of a star in the haunting darkness of space, may appear supernatural and mysterious, but it is a familiar astronomical object: a planetary nebula, the remnants of a dying star. This is the best view of the little-known object ESO 378-1 yet obtained and was captured by ESO’s Very Large Telescope in northern Chile.

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The long goodbye of a dying star

28 July 2015 Astronomy Now

A dying star’s final moments are captured in this image of planetary nebula NGC 6565 in Sagittarius from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The death throes of this star may only last mere moments on a cosmological timescale, but this star’s demise is still quite lengthy by our standards, lasting tens of thousands of years.

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Exiled stars explode far from home

5 June 2015 Astronomy Now

Hubble Space Telescope images confirm that three supernovae discovered several years ago exploded in the dark emptiness of intergalactic space — their nearest neighbours probably 300 light-years away — having been flung from their home galaxies millions or billions of years earlier.

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Sharp-eyed ALMA spots a flare on famous red giant star

30 May 2015 Astronomy Now

Observations with the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array (ALMA) have revealed what seems to be a gigantic flare on the surface of Mira, one of the closest and most famous red giant stars in the sky. Activity like this in red giants — similar to what we see in the Sun — comes as a surprise to astronomers.

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Supernova observed colliding with its companion star

20 May 2015 Astronomy Now

Type Ia supernovae are violent stellar explosions that shine as some of the brightest objects in the universe, but there are still many mysteries surrounding their origin. Now a team of astronomers have witnessed a supernova smashing into a nearby star, shocking it, and creating an ultraviolet glow that reveals the size of the companion.

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Exo-asteroid debris shows how water reached Earth

7 May 2015 Astronomy Now

New research strongly suggests that water delivery via asteroids or comets is likely taking place in many other planetary systems, adding further support to the possibility water can be delivered to Earth-like planets via such bodies to create a suitable environment for the formation of life.