Articles about astronomy

NASA image of the covert black hole

Mystery black hole hides by curbing its appetite

A well-known radio source has turned out not to be the galaxy it's been classified as for 20 years, but a surprisingly quiet black hole. The discovery is causing a bit of buzz among astrophysicists because it suggests there could be thousands or millions more “covert” black holes out there waiting to be discovered. It took …
Chiral propylene oxide

Astroboffins' discovery gives search for early life a left hand. Or right

For the first time, astronomers have made an interstellar observation of a molecule that can exist in left- and right-handed versions – which could help unravel how life can come to exist. The discovery was made using two radio telescopes: Green Bank in the USA, and Parkes in Australia. What Brett McGuire (US National Radio …
The robotic proto-DESI

I spy with my little fibre, ten MEELLION or so galaxies

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory boffins are getting ready to point thousands of optical fibres at the night sky, starting with a 10-robot system proof-of-concept. The ProtoDESI the boffins are wiring up will use robots to aim optical fibres at distant galaxies, a light-gathering trick the DESI (Dark Energy Spectroscopic …
Lisa Harvey-Smith at ASKAP

One black hole, three galaxies, four BEELION solar masses – found by accident

Astro-boffins commissioning part of the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) array have incidentally spotted a monster 3.8-billion-solar-masses black hole created in a three-way galactic collision. In a paper accepted for publication at the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, the CSIRO boffins, …
Ninth planet from the Sun

'Planet nine' theory boosted by Kuiper Belt Object with odd orbit

The long-controversial notion that there's an as-yet-undiscovered “ninth planet*” has had a boost from the best kind of science: a prediction of its effects, borne out by observation. The boffins that re-opened the debate in January this year, Caltech's Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown, are feeling vindicated after a …
Galaxy GN-z11

Good eye, Hubble! Space 'scope spots furthest-ever object

The Hubble Space Telescope may be old enough to rent a car, but the aging orbital lab is still making new discoveries, the latest being the furthest-recorded object ever spotted. Scientists with the European Space Agency (ESA) said that they have detected the light from GN-z11, which had been an infant galaxy when its light …
Shaun Nichols, 3 Mar 2016

Regular Fast Radio Burst detected outside our galaxy

Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) have gone from mysterious to intriguing, intriguing to exciting, exciting to maybe-explained, and just took a jump back to mysterious. That's because the latest observations of the Fast Radio Burst (FRB) phenomenon, published in Nature, has turned up an FRB that repeats. That suggests either that the …
Artist’s impression of deep blue planet HD 189733b

We're doing SETI the wrong and long way around, say boffins

If there are other civilisations out there on Earth-like planets orbiting Sun-like stars, we're likely to waste a lot of time filtering out billions of prospects. That's led McMaster University (located in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada) boffins to suggest we thin out the field, by looking at planets that are in a position to …
Pulsar, image via Shutterstock

The field at the centre of the universe: Cambridge's outdoor pulsar pusher

Geek's Guide to Britain A field full of bits of old wire and an abandoned garden shed: it doesn't look like the place where Nobel prize-wining research was conducted, pushing the frontier of radio astronomy. But it was. This is the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory, at Lords Bridge – site of a disused railway station just outside Cambridge – which …
Simon Rockman, 12 Feb 2016
ICRAR visualisation of the hidden galaxies

Australian astroboffins reveal hundreds of hidden galaxies

Data collected by Australia's Parkes radio telescope from as far back as 1997 has led astronomers to declare they've discovered hundreds of galaxies hidden from telescopes by the Milky Way. The result is exciting for astro-boffins, because the mass of the 300 newly-spotted galaxies, plus new and better information about 500 …
Telescope by  CC2.0 attribution generic

The planets really will be in alignment for the next month

Go buy a lottery ticket, dear readers, because for the next month the planets really will be in alignment. By an accident of celestial mechanics, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn will all be visible from Earth for the next month and it will be just-about-possible to draw a straight line intersecting all five. …
Simon Sharwood, 20 Jan 2016
Amateur astronomer Waldemar Skorupa recorded this image from Kahler Asten, in Germany, on November 16, 2013. Credit: Waldemar Skorupa (Kahler Asten, Germany), via

Comet halo theory for flickering 'alien megastructure' star fails

It's still not an alien megastructure, but the strangely-dimming sun known as Tabby's Star isn't being occasionally occluded by comets. KIC 8462852, to use its formal designation, gave UFO-spotters a veritable hypegasm last year, because the odd fluctuations in its brightness were hard to explain. When Penn State University …

Astronomers catch first sighting of a planet's birth pangs

Scientists have long postulated that planets are formed by accretion of matter in giant discs of matter around stars, and now an inventive researcher has found a way to spot a far-away world being born. "This is the first incontrovertible detection of a planet still in the process of forming – a so-called 'protoplanet'," said …
Iain Thomson, 19 Nov 2015
Canada's CHIME Telescope

Astro-boffins plan 3D plot of the universe

Only a few of them have been observed so far, but boffins from the University of British Columbia reckon fast radio bursts (FRBs) could help refine our understanding of where stuff is in the universe. Their work, published in Physical Review Letters and announced here, proposes that the way FRBs spread across different …


The inevitable fight to the death between humanity and the soulless hordes of Skynet's robot army came a step closer recently, after hideously beweaponed drones vanquished their human adversaries in the merciless arena of the proceedings of the US communications regulator – the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Deathbot …
Matt Dupuy, 14 Aug 2015
Galaxy RGG 118

Put it away: Dwarf's 'supermassive' marvel is actually smallest thing boffins have ever seen

At the heart of every large galaxy resides a supermassive black hole, and astroboffins have found the smallest one yet – about 340 million light years away. "In a sense, it's a teeny supermassive black hole," said Elena Gallo, assistant professor of astronomy at the University of Michigan College of Literature, Science, and …
Iain Thomson, 11 Aug 2015
Just near Cassiopeia: HD 219134

Nearby exoplanets circle naked-eye-visible star

Just a couple of weeks after NASA announced the “Earth twin” (that might not be), astronomers working at the Italian-operated HARPS-N spectrograph have turned up four exoplanets just 21 light-years distant. Even better, for those who like picking out stars but lack access to the Telescopio Nazionale Galileo at the Roque de los …
China's FAST radio telescope

China announces petascale super for FAST radiotelescope

China is planning another petaflop supercomputer, this time to support what will by next year become the world's largest radiotelescope. The telescope itself, a 500 metre monster that's scooped into a hilltop in Guizhou, has been under construction since 2011. This week, engineers began installing the 4,450 panels that will …

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