16 May 2018, 17:00 UTC Astronomers have used observations from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) to determine that star formation in the very distant galaxy MACS1149-JD1 started at an unexpectedly early stage, only 250 million years after the Big Bang. This discovery also represents the most distant oxygen ever detected in the Universe and the most distant galaxy ever observed by ALMA or the VLT. Next Previous
9 May 2018, 10:00 UTC An international team of astronomers has used ESO telescopes to investigate a relic of the primordial Solar System. The team found that the unusual Kuiper Belt Object 2004 EW95 is a carbon-rich asteroid, the first of its kind to be confirmed in the cold outer reaches of the Solar System. This curious object likely formed in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and has been flung billions of kilometres from its origin to its current home in the Kuiper Belt. Next Previous
2 May 2018, 17:00 UTC Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have detected helium in the atmosphere of the exoplanet WASP-107b. This is the first time this element has been detected in the atmosphere of a planet outside the Solar System. The discovery demonstrates the ability to use infrared spectra to study exoplanet extended atmospheres. Next Previous
2 May 2018, 17:00 UTC In some ways, star clusters are like giant families with thousands of stellar siblings. These stars come from the same origins — a common cloud of gas and dust — and are bound to one another by gravity. Astronomers think that our Sun was born in a star cluster about 4.6 billion years ago that quickly dispersed. Next Previous
25 Apr 2018, 17:00 UTC The ALMA and APEX telescopes have peered deep into space — back to the time when the Universe was one tenth of its current age — and witnessed the beginnings of gargantuan cosmic pileups: the impending collisions of young, starburst galaxies. Astronomers thought that these events occurred around three billion years after the Big Bang, so they were surprised when the new observations revealed them happening when the Universe was only half that age! These ancient systems of galaxies are thought to be building the most massive structures in the known Universe: galaxy clusters. Next Previous
25 Apr 2018, 10:00 UTC ESA’s Gaia mission has produced the richest star catalogue to date, including high-precision measurements of nearly 1.7 billion stars and revealing previously unseen details of our home Galaxy. A multitude of discoveries are on the horizon after this much awaited release, which is based on 22 months of charting the sky. The new data includes positions, distance indicators and motions of more than one billion stars, along with high-precision measurements of asteroids within our Solar System and stars beyond our own Milky Way Galaxy. Next Previous
19 Apr 2018, 14:00 UTC This colourful cloud of glowing interstellar gas is just a tiny part of the Lagoon Nebula, a vast stellar nursery. This nebula is a region full of intense activity, with fierce winds from hot stars, swirling chimneys of gas, and energetic star formation all embedded within a hazy labyrinth of gas and dust. Hubble used both its optical and infrared instruments to study the nebula, which was observed to celebrate Hubble’s 28th anniversary. Next Previous
18 Apr 2018, 23:00 UTC Next Previous
11 Apr 2018, 10:00 UTC New images from the SPHERE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope are revealing the dusty discs surrounding nearby young stars in greater detail than previously achieved. They show a bizarre variety of shapes, sizes and structures, including the likely effects of planets still in the process of forming. Next Previous
5 Apr 2018, 15:00 UTC New images from ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile and other telescopes reveal a rich landscape of stars and glowing clouds of gas in one of our closest neighbouring galaxies, the Small Magellanic Cloud. The pictures have allowed astronomers to identify an elusive stellar corpse buried among filaments of gas left behind by a 2000-year-old supernova explosion. The MUSE instrument was used to establish where this elusive object is hiding, and existing Chandra X-ray Observatory data confirmed its identity as an isolated neutron star. Next Previous
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center 25 May 2018, 14:20 UTC At first glance, this image is dominated by the vibrant glow of the swirling spiral to the lower left of the frame. However, this galaxy is far from the most interesting spectacle here — behind it sits a galaxy cluster.
Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy 24 May 2018, 13:32 UTC Astronomers are hunting for the ultimate proof of Einstein’s theory of general relativity, which is to obtain a direct image of the shadow of a black hole.
Square Kilometer Array 24 May 2018, 10:56 UTC In an important engineering milestone, a full station of 256 low-frequency antennas has been deployed and is undergoing tests at CSIRO’s Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in outback Western Australia. The demonstrator, known as the Aperture Array Verification System (AAVS1) is being used to help test and finalise the design of the low frequency antennas for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), known as SKA-low.
NASA: Kepler News and Features 23 May 2018, 17:02 UTC On May 12, NASA’s planet-hunting spacecraft Kepler began the 18th observing campaign of its extended mission, K2. For the next 82 days, Kepler will stare at clusters of stars, faraway galaxies and a handful of solar system objects, including comets, objects beyond Neptune and an asteroid closer to Earth. The Kepler spacecraft is expected to run out of fuel within several months.
NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory 23 May 2018, 17:00 UTC An isolated neutron star — with a low magnetic field and no stellar companion — has been found for the first time outside of the Milky Way galaxy.
Royal Astronomical Society 23 May 2018, 10:20 UTC Artificial intelligence is giving scientists new hope for studying the habitability of planets, in a study from astronomers Chris Lam and David Kipping. Their work looks at so-called ‘Tatooines’, planets that orbit two stars instead of one, and uses machine learning techniques to calculate how likely such planets are to survive into stable orbits.
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Astro Bob 27 May 2018, 16:32 UTC Last week, we visited the 3-foot slab of rock the Mars Curiosity rover team named “Duluth.” The rover’s drill, which bores a hole in rocks and then gathers up a sample of the tailing for analysis, has had mechanical problems since October 2016. Engineers cooked up a new way to drill called Feed Extending Drilling (FED) and tried for the first time on Duluth rock on May 20. It worked!
AmericaSpace 27 May 2018, 14:07 UTC Four decades have now passed since one of the most dramatic reversals in fortune in American space history: the salvation of Skylab. On 14 May 1973, America’s first space station was launched into orbit atop the final Saturn V booster, but an unfortunate sequence of events led to the premature deployment of its micrometeoroid shield, which was promptly ripped away in the supersonic airstream, together with one of two solar arrays. The other solar array was so clogged with debris that it was “pinned” to the side of the station. For ten days, engineers battled to come up with a workable plan whereby Skylab’s first crew—Commander Charles “Pete” Conrad, Science Pilot Joe Kerwin and Pilot Paul Weitz—could effect a successful repair and keep the crippled station on the straight and narrow.
NASA Space Station Blog 25 May 2018, 16:10 UTC The Cygnus resupply ship from Orbital ATK is now open for business and the Expedition 55crew has begun unloading the 7,400 pounds of cargo it delivered Thursday morning. The orbital residents are also conducting space research and preparing for a crew swap in early June.
ESO Announcements 25 May 2018, 13:00 UTC ESO’s Very Large Telescope, the flagship facility for European ground-based astronomy, celebrates its 20th anniversary today. The first of the VLT’s Unit Telescopes saw first light on 25 May 1998, ushering in a new era of astronomy. Over the following years three more 8.2-metre Unit Telescopes were completed and these giants were joined by the four smaller Auxiliary Telescopes (ATs) that form part of the VLT Interferometer. The interferometer first combined the light from two ATs in 2005, creating a virtual telescope up to 200 metres in diameter that now regularly observes the surfaces of stars.
ESO Blog 25 May 2018, 10:00 UTC Mapping the sky has been one of humanity's quests since the dawn of time, and ESA’s Gaia satellite is taking our understanding of our stellar neighbourhood to a whole new level. But it can’t do this alone. ESA has a close collaboration with ESO to use our ground-based expertise to help Gaia excel up in space. We talked to ESO astronomer Henri Boffin to find out more.
ABC 25 May 2018, 01:04 UTC A NASA photographer's camera melted at a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch — but its photos survived, capturing its own demise. Bill Ingalls had set up several remotely triggered cameras near the launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The launch went off without a hitch, and the camera managed to capture it.