Type Ia supernovae are the 'standard candles' astrophysicists use to chart distance in the Universe. But are these dazzling exploding stars truly all the same? To answer this, scientists must first understand what causes stars to explode and become supernovae.
33 Kepler stars have been selected for their solar like oscillations and a set of basic parameters have been determined with high precision showing that stars even older than 11 billion years have Earth-like planets.
Astronomers have created all-sky image maps and released the full database to researchers. Far-infrared light is the key wavelength range for investigating the formation processes of stars and planetary systems. By observing far-infrared light, we can reveal the distribution of the interstellar medium, or gas and dust in interstellar space, as well as the processes of star formation within it.
Researchers have found evidence that enigmatic objects in nearby galaxies -- called ultra-luminous X-ray sources (ULXs) -- exhibit strong outflows that are created as matter falls onto their black holes at unexpectedly high rates. The strong outflows suggest that the black holes in these ULXs must be much smaller than expected. Curiously, these objects appear to be "cousins" of SS 433, one of the most exotic objects in our own Milky Way Galaxy. The team's observations help shed light on the nature of ULXs, and impact our understanding of how supermassive black holes in galactic centers are formed and how matter rapidly falls onto those black holes.
A new supercomputer simulation of the planet and debris disk around the nearby star Beta Pictoris reveals that the planet's motion drives spiral waves throughout the disk, a phenomenon that causes collisions among the orbiting debris. Patterns in the collisions and the resulting dust appear to account for many observed features that previous research has been unable to fully explain.
The giant elliptical galaxy Messier 87 has swallowed an entire medium-sized galaxy over the last billion years. For the first time a team of astronomers has been able to track the motions of 300 glowing planetary nebulae to find clear evidence of this event and also found evidence of excess light coming from the remains of the totally disrupted victim.
Astronomers have discovered an immense cloud of hydrogen dispersing from a warm, Neptune-sized planet orbiting a nearby star. The enormous comet-like tail of the planet is about 50 times the size of the parent star.
Active galactic nuclei are the brightest objects in the universe. They are not lit up permanently, but rather 'flicker' extremely slowly. This insight helps researchers better understand the influence these nuclei and black holes have on their host galaxy.
Astronomers observe what could be some of the first stars to form after the Big Bang. Also: evidence for current volcanism on Venus, and new signs of methane from Mars.