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News: January 2010

Are heavyweight stars
born like our Sun?

Obscured by dust, catching the rapid formation of massive stars in the act is nigh on impossible, but new Gemini observations hint that these stellar heavyweights may be born in a similar way to lightweights like our Sun.

FULL STORY

 

The opposition of Mars arrives tonight!

Mars has been dominating the night sky for sometime now and finally reaches opposition tonight when it will dazzle the eye shining at magnitude -1.3. Find out more in our night sky guide.

NIGHT SKY GUIDE

 

Amateur astronomers discover stellar outburst

Two amateur astronomers based in Florida yesterday helped set in motion a global network of ground- and space-based telescopes to point to a violent explosion of one of our Galaxy's distant stellar inhabitants.

FULL STORY

 

New stellar streams discovered in Andromeda

New stellar streams observed in the halo of nearby galaxy Andromeda that show an intensification of the density of stars represent the tell tale signs of past galactic collisions.

FULL STORY

 

Video: Inside this issue!

The Astronomy Now Editor previews the Mars-themed February 2010 issue of the UK's best-selling astronomy magazine.

WATCH

 

Newborn black holes add power to exploding stars

For the first time, astronomers have uncovered two supernovae explosions with properties similar to a gamma-ray burst but without the gamma rays, leading them to suspect that newborn black holes are providing the extra boost.

FULL STORY

 

Furthest black hole six million light years away

A black hole discovered in the spiral galaxy NGC 300 sets a new distance record at six million light years from the Sun, and with a mass of twenty times that of the Sun it is also the second most massive stellar-mass black hole known.

FULL STORY

 

Mars rover Spirit becomes stationary research platform

Attempts to free trapped rover Spirit from a Martian sand pit have failed, but as one chapter of exploration ends, another is only just beginning.

FULL STORY

 

SETI in the capital – day two

Searching for laser beams from ET, hunting down a second genesis of life on Earth and the broader implications for society upon ET’s discovery were the topics on the menu during the second and final day of The Royal Society’s special meeting on extraterrestrial life.

FULL STORY

 

SETI in the capital – day one

In the fiftieth anniversary since the first attempt to search for radio signals from alien civilisations, pre-eminent scientists from the worlds of astrobiology and astronomy have convened for a special meeting at the Royal Society in London to thrash out where the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) currently stands. Keith Cooper reports.

FULL STORY

 

WISE spies its first
Near Earth Asteroid

NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, WISE, has spotted its first never-before-seen Near Earth Asteroid (NEA), the first of hundreds it is expected to uncover during its mission to map the whole sky in infrared light.

FULL STORY

 

Comet impacts explain Ganymede-Callisto dichotomy

Planetary scientists have long pondered the reasons for the vastly different surface and interior states of the outer Galilean satellites Ganymede and Callisto, but new research suggests that differences in the number and speed of cometary impacts could be to blame.

FULL STORY

 

Pick your own pixel on Mars!

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter scientists will soon be taking image suggestions from the public as part of their new online 'HiWish' tool.

FULL STORY

 

Oceans of diamond possible on Uranus and Neptune

High pressure experiments that mimic conditions on the icy gas giants show that chunks of diamond can float on a sea of liquid carbon.

FULL STORY

 

Asteroid Belt smash-up caught in the act?

An object discovered on 6 January in the Asteroid Belt appearing superficially like a comet, could turn out to be a rare collision of two asteroids.

FULL STORY

 

A paw-print of celestial birth

ESO has today released a beautiful new image of the Cat's Paw Nebula, a complex region of star formation.

FULL STORY

 

Star formation nearly over for nearby dwarf galaxy

Using the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have pieced together the star-formation history of a strange-looking spiral galaxy, finding that star birth is drawing to a close.

FULL STORY

 

The hidden arms of M94

This amazing ultra-deep picture of M94, just 15.1 million light years away, is shedding light on the hidden nature of this spiral galaxy by uncovering two new spiral arms that nobody realised were even there.

FULL STORY

 

Wednesday's Near Earth Asteroid caught on camera

An asteroid that was first spotted and Monday and passed the Earth at a distance equivalent to one-third the Earth-Moon separation yesterday was captured on film by a team of astronomers from Italy.

FULL STORY

 

Supernovae missing piece in galaxy formation theories

New supercomputer simulations of galaxy formation show that supernova explosions blasting away gas from nearby galaxies explains the deficit of stars in dwarf galaxies that cannot be explained in the standard cold dark matter theory.

FULL STORY incl animation

 

Giant magnetic loop sweeps through double star system

Astronomers studying the double star system Algol at radio wavelengths were surprised to find a giant magnetic loop stretching out from one of the stars, the first time a magnetic structure has been seen around a star other than our Sun.

FULL STORY

 

VLT captures first direct exoplanet spectrum

Astronomers using the Very Large Telescope (VLT) have obtained the first direct spectrum of one of three Jupiter-like planets orbiting the young star HR 8799.

FULL STORY

 

Sunspots revealed
on Betelgeuse

Two giant bright spots have been revealed on the surface of nearby red giant star Betelgeuse by a team of astronomers using interferometry.

FULL STORY

 

Galaxy shapes explained by collisions and mergers

The menagerie of shapes and sizes of galaxies in the Universe can be explained by whether they have endured collisions and mergers with other galaxies, with spiral galaxies experiencing barely any collisions at all in “quiet’ regions of the Universe, according to a new and detailed computer model.

FULL STORY

 

Episodic "burping" explains Enceladus' behaviour

Enceladus' young southern hemisphere is likely caused by blobs of warm ice that periodically rise to the surface, according to a new model published in Nature Geoscience.

FULL STORY

 

Will Phoenix rise
from the ice?

From 18 January, NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter will listen for possible radio transmissions sent by the Phoenix Mars Lander, which has been buried under ice throughout the harsh Martian winter.

FULL STORY

 

Alien dust found around distant proto-planets

Dusty debris found around planetary embryos in a 500 light year distant system by astronomers using the Gemini South telescope bears no resemblance to the planetary building blocks of our own Solar System.

FULL STORY

 

Second smallest exoplanet found by Keck

An exoplanet only four times the mass of Earth – the second smallest planet in the exoplanet inventory – has been discovered by astronomers using the Keck Observatory in Hawaii.

FULL STORY

 

Merging white dwarfs become supernovae

New computer simulations confirm that some supernova explosions are caused by the merging of two binary white dwarf stars.

FULL STORY

 

How Earth survived birth

According to standard models of planet formation, Earth shouldn't exist. Now, new simulations show how inner solar system planets escape consumption by their host stars.

FULL STORY

 

Why the Sun feels the force of the galactic bar

Our Sun has wandered into the outskirts of the Milky Way thanks to the powerful interaction of our Galaxy’s spiral disc with the bar that runs through its centre, say a pair of astronomers from Strasbourg University.

FULL STORY

 

Exoplanet's split personality

The most Earth-like exoplanet found to date, rocky CoRoT-7b, may have started life as a gas giant, say astronomers presenting research at the American Astronomical Society Meeting this week.

FULL STORY

 

WISE catches first glimpse of the infrared Universe

NASA's infrared sky-mapping telescope has snapped its first image of the cosmos three weeks after launch, confirming the spacecraft's sensitive detectors are ready to create an atlas of the Universe.

FULL STORY

 

Small Magellanic Cloud
gives up its jewels

The Spitzer Space Telescope has produced this wonderfully colourful picture of the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) to explore how one of our nearest galactic neighbours is forming stars.

FULL STORY

 

Mystery of the missing normal matter

First, there was the dark matter that we could not see. Now, large chunks of ordinary matter in the Universe have also gone missing.

FULL STORY

 

Mapping the Milky Way’s dark matter

The dark matter halo that surrounds the Milky Way Galaxy, making up 70 percent of its mass, appears to be shaped like a squashed ball, according to new findings presented today at the meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Washington, DC.

FULL STORY

 

Anti-matter production triggers supernova

As part of the ESSENCE supernova search, astronomers have discovered a distant star that exploded when its centre became so hot that matter and anti-matter particle pairs were created.

FULL STORY

 

Could super-fast pulsars act as gravity wave detectors?

An unprecedented haul of 17 cosmic whirling dervishes – pulsars that spin thousands of times per second – is providing a boost for research into these extraordinary objects, and may even be the key to detecting something even more extraordinary: gravitational waves.

FULL STORY

 

Sagittarius A* goes on diet

Scientists have long known that the supermassive black hole lurking in the belly of the Milky Way ingests very little matter, but previous estimates of a one percent consumption rate of fuel could be a significant overestimate.

FULL STORY

 

Final countdown to dangerous supernova

A white dwarf star that will one day explode in a giant thermonuclear explosion has been discovered to be alarmingly close to our Solar System. Fortunately it’s not due to explode for another million years, but if it did it would fry every living thing on Earth, and eradicate the ozone layer.

FULL STORY

 

Eclipses reveal first images of Sun's iron emission

Ground-based observations captured of the solar corona during recent total eclipses have revealed the first images of the Sun's outer atmosphere in the near-infrared emission line of highly ionized iron.

FULL STORY

 

The race to free Spirit

Six years ago today NASA’s little Mars rover Spirit bounced down in its air bag into the 170-kilometre wide Gusev Crater, but despite defying all expectations by overcoming killer dust storms, a dodgy right front wheel and malfunctioning computers, Spirit’s time may soon be up if it cannot be freed from a deadly sand trap within the next month.

FULL STORY

 

Giant intergalactic gas streamer gets longer

A giant stream of gas flowing from neighbouring galaxies around the Milky Way is much longer and older than previously thought, report astronomers at the American Astronomical Society Meeting.

FULL STORY

 

What is Epsilon Aurigae?

In August 2009 the bright star Epsilon Aurigae begun to lose brightness for the first time in 27 years. Today astronomers announce that this critical phase ended on New Year's Day and take new steps towards determining the nature of this eclipsing system.

FULL STORY

 

Kepler detects five 'hot Jupiters' in six weeks

A robotic planet-hunting telescope in deep space has detected five new blistering worlds beyond the solar system, but the Kepler probe's search for Earth-like planets is just beginning.

FULL STORY

 

Rare black hole munches on white dwarf

A rarely seen intermediate mass black hole, at least 1,000 times more massive than our Sun, has been caught tearing apart a white dwarf star and swallowing the debris, according to astronomers using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Magellan telescopes in Chile.

FULL STORY

 

Black hole twins
do the bolero

Thirty-three pairs of supermassive black holes, each pair on a spiral of doom inside a galaxy, have been discovered by a team of US astronomers thanks to their unique ‘dancing’ styles.

FULL STORY

 
 

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.
 U.K. STORE
 E.U. STORE
 U.S. & WORLDWIDE STORE
 

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?"
 U.K. STORE
 E.U. STORE
 U.S. & WORLDWIDE STORE


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.
 U.K. STORE
 E.U. STORE
 U.S. & WORLDWIDE STORE

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.
 U.K. STORE
 E.U. STORE
 U.S. & WORLDWIDE STORE

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!
 U.K. STORE
 E.U. STORE
 U.S. & WORLDWIDE STORE


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