Pictures of galaxies never cease to amaze, and astronomers are consistently coming up with new ones that provide a different viewpoint on the universe and maybe some exciting science along with it. A recent picture of the galaxy NGC 7582, taken with the Very Large Telescope (VLT), shows an active supermassive black hole at the galaxy’s core. However, something appears to be redirecting its “wind” away from the rest of the spiral galaxy.Continue reading “New Photos Show a Black Hole Blasting out Powerful Winds”
Planets aren’t the only celestial objects with moons – asteroids can have them too. They are usually other, smaller asteroids in orbit around a larger central one. Now, a team of Thai and French astronomers found an asteroid system with three satellites. The new four-body system makes complex gravitational problems like the three-body problem look simple by comparison.Continue reading “An Asteroid has Been Discovered With Three Moons!”
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In August of 2016, astronomers with the European Southern Observatory (ESO) announced that they had discovered an exoplanet orbiting in neighboring Proxima Centauri. Based on Radial Velocity measurements (aka. Doppler Photometry), the discovery team estimated that the planet was roughly the same size and mass as Earth and orbited with Proxima Centauri’s Circumsolar Habitable Zone (HZ). In 2020, this planet was confirmed by follow-up observations.
In that same year, a second exoplanet (Proxima c) roughly seven times the mass of Earth (a Super-Earth or mini-Neptune) was confirmed. As if that wasn’t enough, an international team of astronomers with the ESO recently announced that they detected a third exoplanet around Proxima Centauri – Proxima d! This Mars-sized planet orbits about halfway between its host star and Proxima b and is one of the lightest exoplanets ever discovered.Continue reading “A THIRD Planet Found Orbiting Nearby Proxima Centauri”
For literally being black in the truest sense of the word, black holes are surprisingly easy to spot. Astronomers have spent decades at this point purposely searching for them and have found thousands already, with potentially 100 billion existing in our part of the universe. We are still finding new types and configurations of black holes consistently. Now, new research led by Dr. Karina Voggel of the Strasbourg Observatory found a pair of black holes that hold the new records of being both the closest supermassive black hole pair to Earth and the closest together pair ever seen.Continue reading “Galaxy Found With Twin Supermassive Black Holes”
The search for planets beyond our Solar System has grown immensely during the past few decades. To date, 4,521 extrasolar planets have been confirmed in 3,353 systems, with an additional 7,761 candidates awaiting confirmation. With so many distant worlds available for study (and improved instruments and methods), the process of exoplanet studies has been slowly transitioning away from discovery towards characterization.
For example, a team of international scientists recently showed how combining data from multiple observatories allowed them to reveal the structure and composition of an exoplanet’s upper atmosphere. The exoplanet in question is WASP-127b, a “hot Saturn” that orbits a Sun-like star located about 525 light-years away. These findings preview how astronomers will characterize exoplanet atmospheres and determine if they are conducive to life as we know it.Continue reading “Astronomers Detect Clouds on an Exoplanet, and Even Measure Their Altitude”
Interferometers are some of the most highly advanced sensor instruments that humans have made. They are used in everything from astronomy to quantum mechanics and have profoundly impacted our understanding of science. But not all interferometers have to be functional. A Dutch astronomer named Frans Snik has just designed one that, while it isn’t function, is inspiring all the same – and it happens to be made out of Lego.Continue reading “A LEGO® Version of the Very Large Telescope. It Even has a Laser Interferometer”
I’d never seen galaxy images like this before. Nobody had! These images highlight star forming regions in nearby(ish) galaxies. There are still a number of unanswered questions surrounding how star formation actually occurs. To answer those questions, we are observing galaxies that are actively forming stars within giant clouds of gas. Until recently, we didn’t have the resolution needed to clearly image the individual gas clouds themselves. But images released by a project called PHANGS (Physics at High Angular resolution in Nearby GalaxieS) in a collaboration between the European Southern Observatory Very Large Telescope and the Atacama Large millimeter/submillmeter Array (ALMA) have provided never before seen detail of star forming clouds in other galaxies.Continue reading “The Galactic Beauty of Star Formation”
When it comes to finding exoplanets, size matters, but so does weight. The larger and heavier the planet, the more likely they will be discovered by the current crop of telescopes. Both the techniques to find exoplanets and the telescopes using those techniques are biased toward larger, heavier planets. So when even the current crop of telescopes manages to find one that is about half the mass of Venus, it is cause for celebration. That is precisely the size of the planet a team from the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope has found orbiting a star called L98-59.Continue reading “Rocky Planet Found With Only Half the Mass of Venus”
Planetary formation is a complicated, multilayered process. Even with the influx of data on exoplanets, there are still only two known planets that are not yet fully formed. Known as PDS 70b and PDS 70c, the two planets, which were originally found by the Very Large Telescope, are some of the best objects we have to flesh out our planetary formation models. And now, one of them has been confirmed to have a moon-forming disk around it.Continue reading “Incredible! Astronomers see a Moon-Forming Disk Around a Newly Forming Planet”
One of the best things about that universe is that there is so much to it. If you look hard enough, you can most likely find any combination of astronomical events happening. Not long ago we reported on research that found 7 separate instances of three galaxies colliding with one another. Now, a team led by Jonathan Williams of the University of Maryland has found another triple galaxy merging cluster, but this one might potentially have two active supermassive black holes, allowing astronomers to peer into the system dynamics of two of the universe’s most extreme objects running into one another.Continue reading “Rare Triple Galaxy Merger With at Least Two Supermassive Black Holes”