Quantcast
Last updated on April 17, 2014 at 11:00 EDT

Latest Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics Stories

Runaway Planets At 30 Million Miles Per Hour Possible
2012-03-22 13:27:20

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics researchers have determined that some planets are flying around in space at 30 million miles per hour. These hypervelocity planets are produced in the same way as the hypervelocity star that was found seven years ago traveling around the Milky Way Galaxy at 1.5 million miles per hour. "These warp-speed planets would be some of the fastest objects in our Galaxy," astrophysicist Avi Loeb of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics said in...

Astronomers Discover 'Waterworld' Planet
2012-02-21 14:30:13

Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have discovered a new class of planet, completely enveloped by water. The "waterworld" planet has a thick, steamy atmosphere and is smaller than Uranus but larger than Earth. "GJ1214b is like no planet we know of," Zachory Berta of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) said in a press release. "A huge fraction of its mass is made up of water." The planet is about 2.7 times Earth's diameter, and weighs almost seven times...

Black Hole Found At The Center Of A Shredded Galaxy
2012-02-15 13:40:43

Astronomers say they have found a black hole that was once at the core of a now-disintegrated dwarf galaxy. The researchers used NASA's Hubble Space Telescope to find a cluster of young, blue stars encircling the first intermediate-mass black hole ever discovered. "For the first time, we have evidence on the environment, and thus the origin, of this middle-weight black hole," Mathieu Servility, who worked at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics when this research was...

Image 1 - Kepler Finds Two More Two-Sun Planets
2012-01-12 05:42:31

Astronomers announced the findings of two new circumbinary planets, or worlds that orbit two different stars, during the American Astronomical Society (AAS) meeting in Austin, Texas on Wednesday. The discovery, which was presented by San Diego State University (SDSU) Associate Professor Dr. William Welsh and published online in the journal Nature, used data from NASA's Kepler Mission to locate a pair of transiting circumbinary planet systems. The two worlds, which have been dubbed...

Spitzer Finds Strange New Galaxy 'Species'
2011-12-02 04:25:01

In the distant reaches of the universe, almost 13 billion light-years from Earth, a strange species of galaxy lay hidden. Cloaked in dust and dimmed by the intervening distance, even the Hubble Space Telescope couldn't spy it. It took the revealing power of NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope to uncover not one, but four remarkably red galaxies. And while astronomers can describe the members of this new "species," they can't explain what makes them so ruddy. "We've had to go to extremes to get...

Black Hole Birth Announcement
2011-11-17 14:40:32

For the first time, astronomers have produced a complete description of a black hole, a concentration of mass so dense that not even light can escape its powerful gravitational pull. Their precise measurements have allowed them to reconstruct the history of the object from its birth some six million years ago. Using several telescopes, both ground-based and in orbit, the scientists unraveled longstanding mysteries about the object called Cygnus X-1, a famous binary-star system discovered...

Alien Hunters Should Look For 'City Lights'
2011-11-04 03:42:51

In the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, astronomers have hunted for radio signals and ultra-short laser pulses. In a new paper, Avi Loeb (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) and Edwin Turner (Princeton University) suggest a new technique for finding aliens: look for their city lights. "Looking for alien cities would be a long shot, but wouldn't require extra resources. And if we succeed, it would change our perception of our place in the universe," said Loeb. As with...

Study Deepens Dark Matter Mystery
2011-10-17 13:15:18

Like all galaxies, our Milky Way is home to a strange substance called dark matter. Dark matter is invisible, betraying its presence only through its gravitational pull. Without dark matter holding them together, our galaxy's speedy stars would fly off in all directions. The nature of dark matter is a mystery -- a mystery that a new study has only deepened. "After completing this study, we know less about dark matter than we did before," said lead author Matt Walker, a Hubble Fellow at the...

Kepler Finds Invisible World Tugging On Planet
2011-09-09 05:06:44

  Usually, running five minutes late is a bad thing since you might lose your dinner reservation or miss out on tickets to the latest show. But when a planet runs five minutes late, astronomers get excited because it suggests that another world is nearby. NASA's Kepler spacecraft has spotted a planet that alternately runs late and early in its orbit because a second, "invisible" world is tugging on it. This is the first definite detection of a previously unknown planet using this...

White Dwarfs May Need To Slow Down Before Going Supernova
2011-09-07 04:24:24

  Older stars may have to slow down their rotations before exploding as supernovae, according to a new study published earlier this month by scientists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA). In a September 6 press release, the researchers compare the phenomenon to "Speed," a motion picture whose plot revolves around a bus that will explode if it travels too slowly. According to their findings, which have been published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, the...