Final kiss of two stars heading for catastrophe

Final kiss of two stars heading for catastrophe

Using ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), an international team of astronomers has found the hottest and most massive double star with components so close that they touch each other. The two stars in the extreme system VFTS 352 could be heading for a dramatic end, during which the two stars either coalesce to create a …



First discovery of a magnetic field in a normal delta Scuti star

First discovery of a magnetic field in a normal delta Scuti star

Two types of pulsating stars exist among stars with a mass between 1.5 and 2.5 solar masses: the delta Scuti stars and the gamma Doradus stars. Theory tells us that when such stars have a surface temperature between 12,000 and 12,900° F (6,600 and 7,100° C), they can have both types of pulsations, i.e., they …



Berkeley astronomers question future of Geoffrey Marcy after harassment charge

Berkeley astronomers question future of Geoffrey Marcy after harassment charge

A well-known astronomer resigned from the University of California, Berkeley, where he had been a professor for 16 years after an investigation found he sexually harassed several female students, two top administrators said. The university immediately accepted Professor Geoffrey Marcy’s resignation, according to a Wednesday statement from Chancellor Nicholas B. Dirks and Executive Vice Chancellor …



ALMA unveils rapid star formation in distant galaxies

ALMA unveils rapid star formation in distant galaxies

Researchers have found that galaxies forming stars at extreme rates 9 billion years ago were more efficient than average galaxies today. The question astronomers have been asking is whether such starbursts in the early universe were the result of having an overabundant gas supply, or whether galaxies converted gas more efficiently. In general, the larger a …



Young stars’ flickering light reveals remarkable link with matter-eating black holes

Young stars’ flickering light reveals remarkable link with matter-eating black holes

An international team of astronomers, including Dr Simon Vaughan from the University of Leicester’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, has discovered a previously unknown link between the way young stars grow and the way black holes and other exotic space objects feed from their surroundings. The study, ‘Accretion-induced variability links young stellar objects, white dwarfs, …



Banking X-ray data for the future

Banking X-ray data for the future

  Archives, in their many forms, save information from today that people will want to access and study in the future. This is a critical function of all archives, but it is especially important when it comes to storing data from today’s modern telescopes. NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory has collected data for over sixteen years …



Mysterious ripples found racing through planet-forming disc

Mysterious ripples found racing through planet-forming disc

Using images from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and ESO’s Very Large Telescope, astronomers have discovered never-before-seen structures within a dusty disc surrounding a nearby star. The fast-moving wave-like features in the disc of the star AU Microscopii are unlike anything ever observed, or even predicted, before now. The origin and nature of these features …



Where to look for life? Astronomers devise ‘habitability index’ to guide future search

Where to look for life? Astronomers devise ‘habitability index’ to guide future search

Powerful telescopes are coming soon. Where exactly shall we point them? Astronomers with the University of Washington’s Virtual Planetary Laboratory have created a way to compare and rank exoplanets to help prioritize which of the thousands discovered warrant close inspection in the search for life beyond Earth. The new metric, called the “habitability index for …



New model can measure the mass of pulsars even if they’re all alone

New model can measure the mass of pulsars even if they’re all alone

Measuring the mass of stars, planets and moons in the universe usually relies on studying how their motion relates to other bodies nearby. For some objects that are on their own in space, however, this method is impossible. But research published in the journal Science Advances describes a new technique that could prove useful. Scientists led by the University …



Discovery of white dwarf companions of millisecond pulsars

Discovery of white dwarf companions of millisecond pulsars

 When a star with a mass of roughly ten solar masses finishes its life, it does so in a spectacular explosion known as a supernova, leaving behind as remnant “ash” a neutron star. Neutron stars have masses of one-to-several Suns, but they are tiny in size, only tens of kilometres. Neutron stars spin rapidly, and …