Latest Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics Stories

Suck It Up! Sun Provides Insight Into How Young Stars Grow
2013-06-21 04:26:50

April Flowers for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online Our Sun erupted on June 7, 2011, sending tons of hot plasma blasting into space. Some of the plasma fell back to the surface of the Sun, sparking bright flashes of ultraviolet light. A new study from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) examines the dramatic event to provide new insights into how young stars grow by consuming nearby gas. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured the eruption and subsequent...

Black Hole Count Keeps Growing For The Andromeda Galaxy
2013-06-13 06:10:47

April Flowers for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online Astronomers have discovered an unprecedented number of black holes in the Andromeda Galaxy (M31), one of the Milky Way´s nearest cosmic neighbors, using data from NASA´s Chandra X-ray Observatory. By analyzing more than 150 Chandra observations taken over 13 years, the research team has identified 26 black hole candidates. This is the largest number discovered to date in a galaxy outside our own. Many scientists consider...

Star Songs Plucked From The Cosmos
2013-06-01 05:44:51

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online Researchers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) have blended science, technology and art to create a unique new website that allows people to listen to original musical compositions crafted from cosmic x-rays. The Star Songs website was published by research associate Gerhard Sonnert, who worked with University of Glasgow postdoctoral student Wanda Diaz-Merced and composer Volkmar Studtrucker on the project....

Exoplanets In Our Own Back Yard?
2013-02-06 11:04:34

Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online Astronomers using NASA's Kepler space telescope have found that six percent of red dwarf stars have habitable, Earth-like planets. Red dwarfs are considered to be the most abundant stars in our galaxy, so it is feasible that one of these Earth-like planets could be just 13 light-years away, when taking into account the astronomers new research published in The Astrophysical Journal. The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics...

Dense Cloud Defies Rules Of Star Formation
2013-01-13 09:53:05

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports — Your Universe Online An unusually dense cloud located near the center of the galaxy does not appear to be forming any massive stars, astronomers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have discovered, and that behavior has them puzzled as it appears to defy the rules of star formation. The cloud, which the researchers have named G0.253+0.016, is located in the vicinity of a supermassive black hole three millions times as massive as...

2012-06-13 14:32:55

Building a terrestrial planet requires raw materials that weren't available in the early history of the universe. The Big Bang filled space with hydrogen and helium. Chemical elements like silicon and oxygen - key components of rocks - had to be cooked up over time by stars. But how long did that take? How many of such heavy elements do you need to form planets? Previous studies have shown that Jupiter-sized gas giants tend to form around stars containing more heavy elements than the Sun....

Growth Found to be Out of Synch For Black Hole
2012-06-12 11:42:59

New evidence from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory challenges prevailing ideas about how supermassive black holes grow in the centers of galaxies. Astronomers long have thought that a supermassive black hole and the bulge of stars at the center of its host galaxy grow at the same rate -- the bigger the bulge, the bigger the black hole. A new study of Chandra data has revealed two nearby galaxies whose supermassive black holes are growing faster than the galaxies themselves. The mass of a...

Black Hole Caught Exiting Host Galaxy
2012-06-05 04:22:57

Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com New observations from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory suggest that a black hole is being ejected from its host galaxy at several million miles per hour. The finding could mean that there are many giant black holes that are roaming around undetected out in the vast spaces between galaxies. "It's hard to believe that a supermassive black hole weighing millions of times the mass of the sun could be moved at all, let alone kicked out of a galaxy at enormous...

Word of the Day
  • In music, a work for a keyboard-instrument, like the pianoforte or organ, originally intended to utilize and display varieties of touch: but the term has been extended so as to include many irregular works, similar to the prelude, the fantasia, and the improvisation.
This word is Italian in origin, coming from the feminine past participle of 'toccare,' to touch.