Taking the pulse of a black hole system

Using two NASA X-ray satellites, astronomers have discovered what drives the “heartbeats” seen in the light from an unusual black hole system. These results give new insight into the ways that black holes can regulate their intake and severely…

Planck unveils wonders of the Universe

The first scientific results from Europe’s Planck spacecraft featuring the coldest objects in the Universe have today been released.
Astronomers at The University of Manchester’s Jodrell Bank Observatory played a key role in the worldwide teams se…

Planck space observatory releases first data

The first scientific results from Europe’s Planck spacecraft were released at a press briefing today in Paris. The findings, focusing on the coldest objects in the Universe – both within our galaxy and also out to the most distant reaches of space -…

Case for Massive Black Hole Strengthened

UCLA astronomer Andrea Ghez announced more than four years ago that a monstrous black hole resides at the center of our Milky Way galaxy, 24,000 light years away, with a mass more than 2 million times that of our sun. Some astronomers greeted the announcement with skepticism, and proposed exotic forms of matter as alternatives. At the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting Feb. 16 in Denver, Ghez reported that the case for the black hole has been strengthened substantially, and that all of the proposed alternatives can be excluded.

Astronomers Trace Microquasar’s Path Back in Time

Astronomers have traced the orbit through our Milky Way Galaxy of a voracious neutron star and a companion star it is cannibalizing, and conclude that the pair joined more than 30 million years ago and probably were catapulted out of a cluster of stars far from the Galaxy’s center. The pair of stars, called Scorpius X-1, form a “microquasar,” in which material sucked from the “normal” star forms a rapidly-rotating disk around the superdense neutron star. The disk becomes so hot it emits X-rays, and also spits out “jets” of subatomic particles at nearly the speed of light.

Distant Ring of Stars Found Around the Milky Way

A previously unseen band of stars beyond the edge of the Milky Way galaxy has been discovered by a team of scientists from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS). The discovery could help to explain how the galaxy was assembled 10 billion years ago.

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