Latest Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory Stories

2006-08-10 16:30:00

Cambridge, MA - Long predicted by theory, the Smithsonian's Submillimeter Array has found the first conclusive evidence of an hourglass-shaped magnetic field in a star formation region. Measurements indicate that material in the interstellar cloud is dense enough to allow it to gravitationally collapse, warping the magnetic field in the process. Astronomers Josep Girart (Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia, Spanish National Research Council), Ramprasad Rao (Institute of Astronomy and...

2006-06-14 10:35:00

Cambridge, MA - Sibling rivalry is alive and well in outer space. The Milky Way galaxy has two sister spirals competing for attention from photographers. The Andromeda galaxy usually wins the contest, posing frequently for cosmic portraits. In this new image from the MMT Observatory's 6.5-meter telescope, the second sister finally gets her due notice. Here, the Triangulum galaxy emerges from the shadows to reveal stunning swirls of stars and dust dotted with brilliant pink nebulae. The new...

2006-01-27 00:00:00

Cambridge, MA - TV reality show contestants aren't the only ones under threat of exile. Astronomers using the MMT Observatory in Arizona have discovered two stars exiled from the Milky Way galaxy. Those stars are racing out of the Galaxy at speeds of more than 1 million miles per hour - so fast that they will never return. "These stars literally are castaways," said Smithsonian astronomer Warren Brown (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics). "They have been thrown out of their home...

2006-01-16 05:40:00

Washington, DC -- While examining a region where new stars are forming with NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, astronomers found a surprise - an object that looks like a giant tornado in space. The apparent tornado is shaped by a cosmic jet packing a powerful punch as it plows through clouds of interstellar gas and dust. They released an image of the "tornado" today at the 207th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Washington, DC. "When I first saw the image of this tornado-like...

2005-10-04 09:52:43

Cambridge, MA -- In an exercise that demonstrates the power of a multiwavelength investigation using diverse facilities, astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) have deciphered the true nature of a mysterious object hiding inside a dark cosmic cloud. They found that the cloud, once thought to be featureless, contains a baby star, or possibly a failed star known as a "brown dwarf," that is still forming within its dusty cocoon. Observations indicate that the...

2005-09-12 17:25:00

Cambridge, MA -- The U.S. could be in for quite a show tonight! Astronomers are predicting that the Northern Lights will shine on and off, periodically coating the northern sky in brilliant greens and reds. "This evening, there is about a 70 percent chance of medium-strength aurorae at our Boston latitude," says Smithsonian astronomer Jonathan Cirtain of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA). "Aurorae could reach even further south." To see the Northern Lights, Cirtain...

2005-06-15 09:24:37

Cambridge, MA -- Astronomers find jets everywhere when they look into space. Small jets spout from newborn stars, while huge jets blast out of the centers of galaxies. Yet despite their commonness, the processes that drive them remain shrouded in mystery. Even relatively nearby stellar jets hide their origins behind almost impenetrable clouds of dust. All stars, including our sun, pass through a jet phase during their "childhood," so astronomers are eager to understand how jets form and how...

2005-06-13 13:01:03

Cambridge, MA -- Astronomers are meeting this week in Cambridge, Mass., to discuss recent advances generated by a new astronomical facility-the Submillimeter Array (SMA) on Mauna Kea, Hawaii. A joint project of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) and the Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics (ASIAA), the SMA has opened a new window onto the cosmos by observing radiation from some of the coldest, dustiest, and most distant objects in the universe. "The SMA is...

2005-02-09 07:31:06

Cambridge, MA -- Using the MMT Observatory in Tucson, AZ, astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) are the first to report the discovery of a star leaving our galaxy, speeding along at over 1.5 million miles per hour. This incredible speed likely resulted from a close encounter with the Milky Way's central black hole, which flung the star outward like a stone from a slingshot. So strong was the event that the speedy star eventually will be lost altogether,...

2004-12-13 16:58:47

Cambridge, MA -- The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) has taken a key step toward the goal of building and operating a large next-generation telescope through its participation in the joint Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT). The GMT will have a diameter of about 83 feet (25.4 meters), about as wide as the 2004 Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center, New York, is tall. Today, two of the GMT participants--the Carnegie Observatories of the Carnegie Institution, and the University of...

Word of the Day
  • A rich embroidered or brocaded silk fabric woven originally with a warp of gold thread.
'Baudekin' seems to be an alternative form of 'baldachin,' from the Italian 'Baldacco,' Baghdad, the city where the material was made.