Latest Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics Stories
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.
In 1987, earthbound observers saw a star explode in the nearby dwarf galaxy called the Large Magellanic Cloud. Astronomers eagerly studied this supernova-the closest seen in the past 300 years-and have continued to examine its remains. Although its blast wave has lit up surrounding clouds of gas and dust, the supernova appears to have left no core behind.
For the first time, amateur and professional astronomers have teamed up to discover a new planet circling a distant star. The planet was detected by looking for the effect of its gravitational field on light from a more distant star, a technique known as microlensing.
Astronomers announced that they have penetrated the heart of the universe's most powerful explosion -- a gamma-ray burst (GRB) -- using the PAIRITEL (Peters Automated Infrared Imaging Telescope) robotic telescope on Mt. Hopkins, Arizona.
Using two orbiting X-ray telescopes, a team of international astronomers has examined distant galaxy clusters in order to compare them with their counterparts that are relatively close by.
When the distant planetoid Sedna was discovered on the outer edges of our solar system, it posed a puzzle to scientists. Sedna appeared to be spinning very slowly compared to most solar system objects, completing one rotation every 20 days.
What did the universe look like when it was only 2 to 3 billion years old? Astronomers used to think it was a pretty simple place containing relatively small, young star-forming galaxies. Researchers now are realizing that the truth is not that simple. Even the early universe was a wildly complex place.
Astronomers report that they have measured the slowest ever motion of a galaxy across the plane of the sky. This distant whirlpool of stars appears to creep along despite its actual speed through space because it is located so far from the Earth.
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.
Astronomy is a science of extremes--the biggest, the hottest, and the most massive. Today, astrophysicist Bryan Gaensler (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) and colleagues announced that they have linked two of astronomy's extremes, showing that some of the biggest stars in the cosmos become the strongest magnets when they die.
- To befool; deceive; balk; jilt.
- An illusion; a trick; a cheat.