Keck Observatory 5 Jan 2018, 19:20 UTC Near-Infrared Echellette Spectrometer Designed to Find the Faintest, Most Violent Objects in the Universe
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory 5 Jan 2018, 18:55 UTC The New Year’s celebration to usher in 2019 will include an event like no other — one more than four billion miles from Earth. In just under a year — shortly after midnight Eastern Time on Jan. 1, 2019 — NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, built and operated by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, will buzz by the most primitive and most distant object ever explored. New Horizons’ encounter with Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69, which orbits a billion miles beyond Pluto, will offer the first close-up look at such a pristine building block of the solar system — and will be performed in a region of deep space that was practically unknown just a generation ago.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center 5 Jan 2018, 16:43 UTC This image, captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3), shows a galaxy named UGC 6093. As can be easily seen, UGC 6093 is something known as a barred spiral galaxy — it has beautiful arms that swirl outwards from a bar slicing through the galaxy’s center. It is classified as an active galaxy, which means that it hosts an active galactic nucleus, or AGN: a compact region at a galaxy’s center within which material is dragged towards a supermassive black hole. As this black hole devours the surrounding matter it emits intense radiation, causing it to shine brightly.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center 4 Jan 2018, 15:18 UTC Twinkle, twinkle, little star, how I wonder what you are. Astronomers are hopeful that the powerful infrared capability of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will resolve a puzzle as fundamental as stargazing itself — what IS that dim light in the sky? Brown dwarfs muddy a clear distinction between stars and planets, throwing established understanding of those bodies, and theories of their formation, into question.
Kavli Institute for Cosmology, Cambridge 4 Jan 2018, 11:50 UTC A group of Cambridge astronomers, including Anthony Lasenby from the Cavendish Astrophysics Group and Kavli Institute for Cosmology, have made the first investigation of the sensitivity of the GAIA satellite to ultra-low frequency gravitational waves produced by supermassive black hole binaries (See Moore, Mihaylov, Lasenby & Gilmore, Phys. Rev. Lett. 119, 261102, 2017).
Las Cumbres Observatory 3 Jan 2018, 17:24 UTC A team of more than 100 researchers, led by LSU Department of Physics & Astronomy Assistant Professor Tabetha Boyajian, is one step closer to solving the mystery behind the “most mysterious star in the universe.” KIC 8462852, or “Tabby’s Star,” nicknamed after Boyajian, is otherwise an average star. It is about 50 percent bigger and 1,000 degrees hotter than the Sun. It is more than 1,000 light years away. However, it has been inexplicably dimming and brightening sporadically like no other. Several theories abound to explain the star’s unusual light patterns including an alien megastructure orbiting the star.
Max Planck Institute for Astronomy 3 Jan 2018, 03:03 UTC The motions of stars in a galaxy are like a history book, yielding information about how the galaxy has grown over time. Now a group of astronomers has assembled a library of such galaxy history books.