Articles about astrophysics

CSIRO's Australia Telescope Compact Array

Astroboffins 'sprinkle iron filings' over remnant supernova

How to measure a magnetic field that's very long way away, and is very, very weak. An international group of boffins have announced that they figured out how. The magnetic field in question belongs to a distant supernova remnant, Supernova 1987A, 168,000 light years from Earth. While the supernova exploded in 1987, its …

Kepler finds three Earth-sized exoplanets, but they're too hot to handle

Astro-boffins poring over data from Kepler's K2 mission have spotted two new solar systems, one of them sporting three planets roughly the same size as Earth. The bad news is that all the latest discoveries are likely too hot for us, with temperatures between 100°C and 327°C. Announcing the results in a paper in the Monthly …

Physicists win Nobel Prize for spotting ripples in fabric of space-time

The 2017 Nobel Prize in physics has been awarded to three researchers crucial to the first detection of ripples in the fabric of space-time – gravitational waves. Half the prize went to MIT physicist Rainer Weiss and the other half to California Institute of Technology physicists Barry Barish and Kip Thorne. They're all …
Andrew Silver, 3 Oct 2017

NASA delivers CREAM-y load to ISS to improve cosmic ray detection

Hitching a ride on SpaceX's 12th commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station is NASA's latest tech for studying the origins of cosmic rays, the high-energy particles that bombard Earth from deep space. Victor Hess, an Austrian physicist, is credited with discovering cosmic rays during a balloon flight in …
Andrew Silver, 15 Aug 2017
Ash loses his head in a still of the movie Alien. Copyright: 20th Century Fox

Spoiler alert: We'll bet boffins still haven't spotted aliens

As any followers of the “Tabbi's Star” controversy will tell you, put “aliens” in a media release and you're bound to get the clicks. So it was over the weekend when the Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific accepted a paper claiming to have identified 234 stars out of a couple of million whose signatures …
Chandra's wandering black hole

Stripped of its galaxy, this black hole is wandering naked in the cosmos

Boffins analysing old Chandra x-ray telescope data have spotted a rarity indeed: an X-ray source that seems to be a black hole, but without a galaxy to surround it. At an estimated 100,000 times the mass of the sun, the black hole in question – at the edge of lenticular galaxy SDSS J141711.07+522540.8, about 4.5 billion light …
Sensor descends down a hole in the ice as part of the final season of IceCube. Credit: NSF/B Gudbjartsson

They Came From Beyond Our Galaxy And Landed In The Ice!

“Big Bird”, a neutrino spotted in December 2012, probably started its life nine billion years ago in a quasar far, far away: so says the international team of boffins who run the IceCube detector beneath the Antarctic ice. By 2013, the IceCube collaborators believed they'd spotted extragalactic events: now they believe which …
NASA's exploding star illustration

Champagne supernova in the sky: Shockwaves seen breaking star

The Kepler space telescope is best known for its planet-hunting prowess, but in a paper just accepted by the Astrophysical Journal it's racked up another first: sighting a shockwave ripping a star apart as it goes supernova. Called by boffins the “shock breakout”, the shockwave is the “bounce” that happens when the star …
Galaxy simulation

Astro-boffins start opening universe simulation data

The Illustris Project, a universe-scale simulation created in 2013 at MIT and unveiled in May 2014, is now offering its first data products as downloads for researchers. The large-scale cosmological simulation of galaxy formation, as it describes itself, has half a petabyte containing 12 billion resolution points and in a full …
Perseus galactic cluster

'Sterile neutrinos' re-ignite 'we found dark-stuff' debate

Astro-physicists remain cautiously (around media) excited (among themselves) about an unexpected X-ray signal discovered in a survey of galactic clusters. Having first put their findings in the public sphere in March, as reported by The Register at the time, the work has now passed peer review to hit the presses in the …
Dark matter map

Boffins search for dark matter in abandoned Australian mine

Australian physicists are looking at an unused gold mine in the Victorian town of Stawell to see if it's a suitable spot for a dark matter detector. As reported in the Wimmera Mail Times here, the Stawell Gold Mine Future Possibilities project has okayed the Centre of Excellence for Particle Physics at Terascale (CoEPP) to …
Artist's impression of Planck; Pic: ESA

Missing matter found by squinting through gravitational lens

Some of the universe's “missing matter” might have been found in an unexpected place: exactly where it ought to be, sitting in galaxies. The missing matter question arose when the ESA's Planck mission team published this paper on Arxiv, in which they pointed out an apparent discrepancy between the “wrinkles” in the cosmic …
Hubble shot of M82

Amateurs find the 'HOLY GRAIL' supernova – right on our doorstep

Pics Exploding stars aren't an uncommon event in a universe with billions upon billions of stars in billions upon billions of galaxies – but catching an explosion in the act on our galactic doorstep is rare. (Well, 11.5 million light years away is, in astronomical terms, quite close by, and as I'll explain later, the type and …
Comet ISON

Possibly EXPLODING or GLORIOUS Comet ISON: The (GIF) MOVIE

.GIF Retired teacher Bruce Mellin in the US has snapped a few shots of comet ISON on its way towards its potential doom or glory at solar perihelion later this month. Comet ISON Using the Harvard-Smithsonian MicroObservatory's "Donald" remote robo telescope in Arizona, Mellin grabbed some low-res images of the comet, which the …
Artist's illustration of a planet in very near orbit to its star

Tiny fireball exoplanet completes one year in 8.5 hours

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have discovered a new, Earth-sized exoplanet for which orbiting its star is literally all in a day's work. The newly discovered planet, dubbed Kepler 78b, completes one full revolution around its star in just 8.5 hours – fast enough that by the time you clock in at the …
Neil McAllister, 19 Aug 2013
The Hubble Extreme Deep Field (XDF): an image of a small area of space in the constellation Fornax, created using Hubble Space Telescope datafrom combined Space Telescope exposures taken over a decade

SKA precursor starts streaming firehosing astrodata to the world

Hard on the heels of yesterday's discussion of high-performance computing with the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research and the National Computational Infrastructure comes the announcement that real data has started to stream out of Western Australia's Murchison Widefield Array. In fact, to anybody but the biggest …

Cosmic blast mystery solved in neutron star's intense death throes

A pair of European astrophysicists believe they've solved the mystery of exceedingly bright, never-repeated flashes of radio waves that come to us from the distant past. The source of those brief, intense flashes can be defined in two ways, depending upon whether you'd prefer to look at the event as a death or a birth. "We …
Rik Myslewski, 5 Jul 2013
Google Loon balloon envelope

Google launches broadband balloons, radio astronomy frets

Nearly the whole science and tech world is turning cartwheels at Google's “Project Loon”, Google's audacious “bring the Internet to the world using weather balloons” test that kicked off in New Zealand over the weekend. As Wired notes, having flown to New Zealand for the launch, Project Loon came out of the same “Project X” …

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