A Precocious Black Hole
In July 2015, researchers announced the discovery of a black hole that grew much more quickly than its host galaxy. The discovery calls into question previous assumptions on development of galaxies. The black hole was discovered using the Hubble Space Telescope, and detected in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, by ESA's XMM-Newton and NASA's Chandra.
New Atlas of the Moon
Astronomy.co.uk has teamed up with Amazon.co.uk to bring you the finest selection of astronomy related books at the best prices.
Browse through our bookstore and check out our fine selection of books from star charts and astrophotography to mathematical astronomy.
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Sky View Café is a Java applet that lets you use your web browser to see many types of astronomical information, in both graphical and numerical form. You can see which stars and planets will be out tonight in the sky above your home town, see how the next solar or lunar eclipse will look from London, or find out when the Moon rose over Sydney on your birthday ten years ago. Sky View Café includes star charts, a 3-D orrery, displays of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, an astronomical event calendar, an ephemeris generator, and many other features. Enter Sky View Café now!
Astronomy.co.uk Star Naming Service
Name a star for yourself or for that special person as the perfect gift that will sparkle for a lifetime! Ideal for any occassion, birthdays, christenings, anniversaries and memorials. Reserve a place in the heavens for your loved ones
Call for media: LISA Pathfinder launch - Read more >
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 09:00:00 +0100
LISA Pathfinder, ESA’s technology demonstrator for detecting gravitational-waves, is set for launch on 2 December at 04:15 GMT (05:15 CET) on a Vega rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Media representatives can follow the launch online and attend the event in ESA’s operations centre, ESOC, in Darmstadt, Germany.
Call for Media: ExoMars 2016 leaving Europe for launch site - Read more >
Mon, 16 Nov 2015 10:00:00 +0100
The ESA–Roscosmos ExoMars 2016 spacecraft are ready to depart Europe for the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, to prepare for their launch in March.
Members of the media are invited to join ExoMars scientists and engineers from ESA, Roscosmos and Thales Alenia Space in Cannes, France on 25 November for a final glimpse of the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and Schiaparelli, the entry, descent and landing demonstrator, before they leave.
The spacecraft will be launched on a Russian Proton rocket during the 14–25 March 2016 window, arriving at Mars in October 2016.
TGO will take a detailed inventory of Mars’ atmospheric gases. Of special interest is the origin of methane – its presence implies an active, current source, and TGO will help to determine if it stems from a geological or biological source.
Schiaparelli will demonstrate a range of technologies to enable a controlled landing on Mars in preparation for future missions.
TGO will also serve as a data relay for the second ExoMars mission, comprising a rover and a surface science platform, which is planned for launch in 2018.
Rosetta and Philae: one year since landing on a comet - Read more >
Thu, 12 Nov 2015 10:00:00 +0100
One year since Philae made its historic landing on a comet, mission teams remain hopeful for renewed contact with the lander, while also looking ahead to next year’s grand finale: making a controlled impact of the Rosetta orbiter on the comet.
Hubble Uncovers Fading Cinders of Some of Our Galaxy's Earliest Homesteaders
Thu, 05 Nov 2015 13:00:00 -0500
About 13 billion years ago, long before our sun formed, the construction
of our Milky Way galaxy was just beginning. Young, mostly sun-like stars
in the core, or central bulge, provided the building blocks for the galaxy's
foundation. Many of these building-block stars have long since burned
out, and are now just dying embers. But contained within these dead
stars, called white dwarfs, is the early history of our galaxy, providing
clues on how it came to be.
Shining a light on the aurora of Mars - Read more >
Thu, 05 Nov 2015 14:00:00 +0100
ESA’s Mars Express has shed new light on the Red Planet’s rare ultraviolet aurora by combining for the first time remote observations with in situ measurements of electrons hitting the atmosphere.
Celebrity comet spotted among Gaia’s stars - Read more >
Tue, 03 Nov 2015 14:00:00 +0100
A local cosmic celebrity was recently pictured among the multitude of stars and Solar System bodies surveyed by ESA’s Gaia satellite: Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, currently accompanied by another ESA spacecraft, Rosetta.
AURA Appoints New STScI Director
Fri, 30 Oct 2015 11:00:00 -0400
Dr. Kenneth R. Sembach has been appointed director of the Space Telescope Science
Institute (STScI) in Baltimore.
Spirals in Dust Around Young Stars May Betray Presence of Massive Planets
Thu, 29 Oct 2015 13:00:00 -0400
A team of astronomers is proposing that huge spiral patterns seen around some
newborn stars, merely a few million years old (about one percent our sun's age), may
be evidence for the presence of giant, unseen planets. This idea not only opens the door
to a new method of planet detection, but also could offer a look into the early formative
years of planet birth. Though astronomers have cataloged thousands of planets orbiting
other stars, the very earliest stages of planet formation are elusive because nascent
planets are born and embedded inside vast, pancake-shaped disks of dust and gas
encircling newborn stars. The conclusion that planets may betray their presence by
modifying circumstellar disks on large scales is based on detailed computer modeling of
how gas-and-dust disks evolve around newborn stars.
Most Earth-Like Worlds Have Yet to Be Born, According to Theoretical Study
Tue, 20 Oct 2015 10:00:00 -0400
Astronomers are conducting extensive observations to estimate how many planets in our Milky Way galaxy might be potential abodes for life. These are collectively called "Earth-like" in other words, Earth-sized worlds that are at the right distances from their stars for moderate temperatures to nurture the origin of life. The search for extraterrestrial intelligent life in the universe (SETI) is based on the hypothesis that some fraction of worlds, where life originates, go on to evolve intelligent technological civilizations. Until we ever find such evidence, Earth is the only known abode of life in the universe. But the universe is not only vastly big, it has a vast future. There is so much leftover gas from galaxy evolution available that the universe will keep cooking up stars and planets for a very long time to come. In fact, most of the potentially habitable Earth-like planets have yet to be born. This theoretical conclusion is based on an assessment of star-birth data collected by the Hubble Space Telescope and exoplanet surveys made by the planet-hunting Kepler space observatory.
Flash floods in Mangala Valles - Read more >
Thu, 15 Oct 2015 11:00:00 +0200
Catastrophic flooding triggered by ice melting from the heat of volcanic activity is thought to be responsible for the chaotic scenery depicted in this region of the Mangala Valles channel network.
Hubble's Planetary Portrait Captures New Changes in Jupiter's Great Red Spot
Tue, 13 Oct 2015 13:00:00 -0400
Scientists using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have produced new global maps of
Jupiter the first in a series of annual portraits of the solar system's outer planets
from the Outer Planet Atmospheres Legacy program (OPAL). The two Jupiter maps,
representing nearly back-to-back rotations of the planet on Jan. 19, 2015, show
the movements of the clouds and make it possible to determine the speeds of
Jupiter's winds. The Hubble observations confirm that the Great Red Spot continues
to shrink and become more circular. In addition, an unusual wispy filament is seen, spanning almost the entire width of the vortex. These findings are described in a
new paper published online in the October 10 issue of The Astrophysical Journal.
The collection of maps to be obtained over time from the OPAL program will not
only help scientists understand the atmospheres of our giant planets, but also the
atmospheres of planets being discovered around other stars. For more visuals and
information about this study, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/hubble .
And to learn even more about Jupiter and Hubble, join the live Hubble Hangout discussion
at 3:00 pm on Thurs., Oct. 15 at http://hbbl.us/y6C .
Mysterious Ripples Found Racing Through Planet-Forming Disk
Wed, 07 Oct 2015 13:00:00 -0400
Though astronomers have discovered thousands of planets orbiting other
stars, very little is known about how they are born. The conventional wisdom is
that planets coagulate inside a vast disk of gas and dust encircling newborn stars.
But the details of the process are not well understood because it takes millions of
years to happen as the disk undergoes numerous changes until it finally
The young, nearby star AU Microscopii (AU Mic) is an ideal candidate to get a snapshot of planet birthing because the disk is tilted nearly edge on to our view from Earth. This very oblique perspective offers an opportunity to see structure in the disk that otherwise might go unnoticed. Astronomers are surprised to uncover fast-moving, wave-like features embedded in the disk that are unlike anything ever observed, or even predicted. Whatever they are, these ripples are moving at 22,000 miles per hour fast enough to escape the star's gravitational pull. This parade of blob-like features stretches farther from the star than Pluto is from our sun. They are so mysterious it's not known if they are somehow associated with planet formation, or some unimagined, bizarre activity inside the disk.
Learn even more about AU Mic by joining the live Hubble Hangout discussion at 3:00 pm EDT on Thurs., Oct. 8 at http://hbbl.us/y6M.
How Rosetta’s comet got its shape - Read more >
Mon, 28 Sep 2015 15:00:00 +0200
Two comets collided at low speed in the early Solar System to give rise to the distinctive ‘rubber duck’ shape of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, say Rosetta scientists.
Hubble Zooms in on Shrapnel from an Exploded Star
Thu, 24 Sep 2015 10:00:00 -0400
Not long before the dawn of recorded human history, our distant ancestors would
have witnessed what appeared to be a bright new star briefly blazing in the
northern sky, rivaling the glow of our moon. In fact, it was the titanic
detonation of a bloated star much more massive than our sun. Now, thousands of
years later, the expanding remnant of that blast can be seen as the Cygnus Loop,
a donut-shaped nebula that is six times the apparent diameter of the full moon.
The Hubble Space Telescope was used to zoom into a small portion of that remnant,
called the Veil Nebula. Hubble resolves tangled rope-like filaments of glowing
gases. Supernovae enrich space with heavier elements used in the
formation of future stars and planets and possibly life.
Learn even more about the Veil Nebula in a discussion with Hubble Heritage
Team scientists during the live Hubble Hangout at 3pm EDT on Thurs., Sept.
24 at http://hbbl.us/z7f .
ExoMars 2016 targets March launch window - Read more >
Fri, 18 Sep 2015 17:00:00 +0200
A problem recently discovered in two sensors in the propulsion system of the entry, descent and landing demonstrator module has prompted the recommendation to move the launch of the ExoMars 2016 mission, initially foreseen in January, to March, still within the launch window of early 2016.
NASA Telescopes Find Galaxy Cluster with Vibrant Heart
Thu, 10 Sep 2015 13:00:00 -0400
Astronomers have discovered a rare beast of a galaxy cluster whose heart is
bursting with new stars. The unexpected find, made with the help of NASA's
Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes, suggests that behemoth galaxies at the
cores of these massive clusters can grow significantly by feeding on gas stolen
from other galaxies. The cluster in the new study, referred to by astronomers
as SpARCS1049+56, has at least 27 galaxy members, and a combined mass equal
to nearly 400 trillion suns. It is located 9.8 billion light-years away in the
Ursa Major constellation. The object was initially discovered using Spitzer and
the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, and confirmed using the W. M. Keck Observatory.
Hubble helped confirm the source of the fuel for the new stars.
To learn more about the behavior of massive galaxy clusters, join the discussion
with the scientists during the live Hubble Hangout at 3pm EDT today (Thurs.,
Sept. 10) at http://hbbl.us/z7P .
Hubble Uncovers Clues of Earliest Galaxies
Wed, 09 Sep 2015 13:00:00 -0400
Astronomers at the University of California at Irvine (UCI) and the Space
Telescope Science Institute have made the most accurate statistical
estimate of the number of faint, small galaxies that existed only 500
million years after the big bang. This was culled from an analysis of the
deepest Hubble Space Telescope sky survey, CANDELS (Cosmic
Assembly Near-Infrared Deep Extragalactic Legacy Survey). Previously,
studies using Caltech's CIBER (the Cosmic Infrared Background
Experiment) rocket-borne instrument and NASA's Spitzer Space
Telescope images confirmed the presence of "intra-halo light" from stars
distributed outside of galaxies. The Hubble data found a new component
in the infrared background in addition to intra-halo light the collective
glow of entire galaxies that formed first in the universe. UCI's Asantha
Cooray believes that these early galaxies are very different from the well-defined spiral and disk-shaped galaxies seen in the present-day universe.
They were more diffuse and populated by giant stars. This discovery
paves the way for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope to see these very
faint galaxies individually, after its launch in 2018.
Hubble Survey Unlocks Clues to Star Birth in Neighboring Galaxy
Thu, 03 Sep 2015 13:00:00 -0400
All stars are not created equal. They can vary in mass by over a factor of 1,000.
Our sun is classified as a diminutive yellow dwarf. What's more, stars are not
born in isolation, but inside giant molecular clouds of hydrogen. The question has
been: what fraction of stars precipitate out of these clouds into clusters that
contain blue giants, yellow dwarfs, and red dwarfs? It's like asking if all
automobile manufacturers fabricate the same proportion of trucks, SUVs, sedans,
and subcompacts. The best way to address the question is not to look around
our Milky Way which we are inside but far out into space to the neighboring
Andromeda galaxy, 2.5 million light-years away. Embedded in a sweeping Hubble
Space Telescope mosaic of 117 million stars in the galaxy's disk are 2,753 star
clusters. Hubble astronomers found that, for whatever reason, nature
apparently cooks up stars like batches of cookies. There is a consistent
distribution from massive stars to small stars. It is surprising to find that
this ratio is the same across our neighboring galaxy (as well as inside our stellar
neighborhood in the Milky Way), given the complex physics of star formation.
ESO and ESA Directors General sign Cooperation Agreement - Read more >
Mon, 24 Aug 2015 15:07:00 +0200
On 20 August 2015 the Director General of ESO, Tim de Zeeuw, and the Director General of ESA, Johann-Dietrich Woerner, signed a cooperation agreement between the two organisations at ESO’s offices in Santiago, Chile. The ESA Director General was accompanied by Álvaro Giménez, Director of Science and Robotic Exploration at ESA, and Fabio Favata, Head of the ESA Programme Coordination Office.
Take a look at this month's Sky Map to help you explore the wonders of the night sky!
Ideal for all sky watchers including beginners to astronomy.
The Sky Map will help you identify planets, bright stars, constellations and nebulae!
Printable version available too!