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News: April 2010

Galaxy mergers make
more massive stars

Colliding galaxies mysteriously play host to more massive supernovae in their central regions than undisturbed galaxies do, says new research presented earlier this month at the National Astronomy Meeting at the University of Glasgow.

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Hubble celebrates 20 year milestone

As the Hubble Space Telescope reaches its twentieth year in orbit, NASA and the Space Telescope Science Institute are celebrating Hubble’s incredible journey with this stunning new picture, new online educational resources and the chance to analyse galaxies through the hugely successful Galaxy Zoo programme.

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Planck reveals complexity
of star formation

New images from ESA's Planck space observatory reveal the complex driving forces behind star formation, giving astronomers new insight into the processes that sculpt the dust and gas of our Galaxy.

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SETI: The water hole

For oxygen breathing, water-drinking carbon-based life forms such as ourselves, space is a barren desert, with vast stretches of unbearable nothingness between the oases of life that we are searching for.

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‘Hubble for the Sun’ returns amazing first imagery

The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), launched by NASA on 11 February, has produced its first pictures and movies, illustrating gigantic prominences, waves rippling across the the face of Sun that instigate coronal mass ejections, and the first measurements of solar flares in extreme ultraviolet, all in higher resolution than ever before.

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VISTA strikes again

The Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope (VISTA), perched atop the 2,635-metre high peak of Cerro Paranal in Chile’s Atacama Desert, has provided revealing new images that penetrate the thick gas and dust shrouding one of the most active star-forming regions in the Galaxy: the Cat’s Paw Nebula.

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Lighting the way
– optical SETI

In celebrating the half century of SETI, we should not forget that the laser, too, is fifty years old this year. It is somewhat fitting that the technology of lasers has since converged with the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

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European radio array launches SETI search

A new SETI survey that will operate at frequencies lower than anyone has ever searched before will begin this spring using a new pan-European radio array, it was revealed at the Royal Astronomical Society’s National Astronomy Meeting at the University of Glasgow last week.

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Video: New planets from SuperWASP

In April nine new exoplanets orbiting other stars were discovered by the SuperWASP team. Amongst these planets were a couple that orbit around their stars backwards. Emily Baldwin gets the lowdown from Dr Pierre Maxted of Keele University.

WATCH

 

Video: Enceladus leaves plasma bubbles in its wake

Mullard Space Science Laboratory's Sheila Kanani talks about her work investigating the effect that Saturn's moon Enceladus has on the planet's magnetosphere.

WATCH

 

Dusty discs around stars young and old

Details of compact discs of rocky and dusty material have been detected around two young stars at similar distances as the Earth resides from our Sun, and around two ageing stars, providing information on discs at various stages of their evolution.

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Chilling out on the
youngest neutron star

The interior of the youngest neutron star in the Galaxy is being cooled by the emission of neutrinos, hinting at the processes that are at work inside these exotic objects.

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Stellar merger may have sparked brilliant outburst

Eight years of detailed monitoring of a distant star that underwent an explosive outburst, causing it to became a million times more luminous than the Sun, is suggesting that it likely suffered a violent merger with another star.

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The truth about
Main Belt Comets

Dr Henry Hsieh of Queen's University Belfast tells all about a newly identified class of object in our Solar System, known as Main Belt Comets.

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Help scientists predict
solar storms!

The Royal Observatory Greenwich's Dr Marek Kukula talks about the new citizen science project, Solar Stormwatch, with Astronomy Now's Dr Emily Baldwin.

WATCH

 

Predicting solar storm
arrival at Earth

Many of the talks in today’s solar sessions at the National Astronomy Meeting focused on predicting the timing and effects of solar flares on the Earth. This ‘space weather’ can wipe out power grids and communications on our vulnerable planet and is therefore a vital area of space research.

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A giant star in the making

New observations of a massive star caught in the midst of being born are providing further evidence that big stars and small stars form in exactly the same way.

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New Rosetta stone for GRBs as supernovae

A gamma-ray burst (GRB) has been seen exploding at the same time and location as a supernova, further cementing the link between these violent phenomena and the destruction of massive stars.

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Dusty experiments solve interstellar water mystery

Scientists presenting their results at today’s National Astronomy Meeting announced that dust plays an essential role in the formation of water in interstellar space.

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VISTA video interview

The principal investigator on the new British-built infrared survey telescope VISTA at the European Southern Observatory, Professor Jim Emerson, speaks to Astronomy Now Editor Keith Cooper at the 2010 National Astronomy Meeting in Glasgow.

WATCH

 

Hot jupiters bad for
earth-like planets

A windfall of nine new planets, including some that orbit backwards, may turn theories of how ‘hot jupiters’ come to be on their head. These planets, which were announced today at the Royal Astronomical Society’s National Astronomy Meeting at the University of Glasgow, would seem to rule out the possibility of hot jupiters and Earth-like planets existing together.

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Checking in with the Herschel Space Observatory

Herschel Space Observatory scientists today met to discuss the progress of their mission, which was launched less than a year ago. AN’s deputy editor Emily Baldwin speaks to one of the Principal Investigators, Matt Griffin about what the mission has achieved so far.

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Water, water everywhere

In today’s Water in the Solar System session at the National Astronomy Meeting, compelling evidence was presented that suggests rocky planets hosting water may be commonplace throughout the Milky Way.

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The shocking size of
Comet McNaught

In early 2007 Comet C/2006 P1 McNaught became the brightest comet visible from Earth for 40 years, and now, according to new data, is also the largest comet measured to date.

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Massive baby stars in the Rosette Nebula

This stunning image from the Herschel Space Observatory reveals the formation of previously unseen large stars in the Rosette Nebula.

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Magnetic ropes tie down solar eruptions

Using data from the Hinode spacecraft, astronomers have discovered new details of an immense structure that erupted from the Sun’s surface to produce a coronal mass ejection in December 2007.

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Cluster watches formation of aurorae

For the first time the acceleration of electrons in Earth’s magnetosphere, which generate the colouful aurorae that glisten in colourful curtains over the polar regions, has been witnessed in action.

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Astronomers capture rare stellar eclipse

The dusty disc that eclipses the puzzling star epsilon Aurigae has, thanks to the most sophisticated optical interferometer on the planet, been imaged passing in front of the star for the first time.

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SETI: Power to the people

Fancy being the one to make history and discover extraterrestrial intelligence? It’s not as far-fetched as it sounds. Dr Jill Tarter of the SETI Institute plans to take citizen science one step further with the launch of setiQuest, a project that will enable members of the public to search radio observations for anomalous transmissions.

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Venus is alive!

ESA's Venus Express mission has detected clear evidence for relatively young lava flows on our neighbouring planet, suggesting that Venus may still be active today.

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Getting up close to M66

This stunningly rich view of the inner portion of the spiral galaxy M66 in the constellation of Leo, captured by the evergreen Hubble Space Telescope, reveals a hooked, distorted spiral arm and a displaced, glowing core, which are both wounds suffered in the gravitational tug of war with its near neighbours, the galaxies M65 and NGC 3628.

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Probing Triton's
summer skies

Thanks to the development of a high resolution infrared spectrograph at ESO's Very Large Telescope, astronomers have performed new analysis of the atmosphere of Neptune's largest moon Triton, discovering carbon monoxide and making the first ground-based detection of methane.

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Sub-stellar object’s
identity crisis

A mystery object that looks like a planet, but formed like a star, has been discovered orbiting a brown dwarf 450 light years away from Earth, throwing the definition of a planet into even more uncertainty.

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SETI: The state of the art

Fifty years ago this April, radio astronomer Dr Frank Drake embarked on Project Ozma, the first ever attempt to detect the technological signature of intelligent creatures on planets orbiting stars other than our Sun. This was the first step along a path that one day may culminate with our realising that humanity is part of a galactic culture of intelligent life, scattered across the light years between the stars.

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SETI: The Quest

The search for radio signals from beings on other worlds reaches its half century this April. In the first of many articles to celebrate this milestone, Keith Cooper introduces SETI and explores our desire to find life elsewhere in the Universe.

READ MORE

 

First eight HiWishes
come true

The first batch of pictures of Mars to be chosen by the public and imaged as part of the HiWish project using the HiRISE camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), have revealed collapsing volcanoes, boulder strewn plains and dune-filled valleys on the red planet.

READ MORE

 
 

Back to latest news

2010 Yearbook
Our latest 132-page Astronomy Now special edition is an extravaganza of astronomy for the year ahead, with a complete 30-page guide to observing the planets, moon, meteor showers, two solar eclipses, and the deep sky in 2010.
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Take the tour!
A 100-page special edition from the creators of Astronomy Now magazine, The Grand Tour of the Universe takes readers from one end of the Universe to the other and, in doing so, asks the question "just how big is the Universe?"
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Infinity Rising
This special publication features the photography of British astro-imager Nik Szymanek and covers a range of photographic methods from basic to advanced. Beautiful pictures of the night sky can be obtained with a simple camera and tripod before tackling more difficult projects, such as guided astrophotography through the telescope and CCD imaging.
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Guide to the Constellations
Astronomy Now presents this 100-page, full-colour guide to the 68 constellations visible from the British Isles by Neil Bone, the respected amateur astronomer and writer.
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Exploring Mars
Astronomy Now is pleased to announce the publication of Exploring Mars. The very best images of Mars taken by orbiting spacecraft and NASA's Spirit and Opportunity rovers fill up the 98 glossy pages of this special edition!
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