A new method of measuring the distances between stars enables astronomers to climb the ‘cosmic ladder’ and understand the processes at work in the outer reaches of the galaxy.
A space mission to create the largest, most-accurate, three-dimensional map of the Milky Way is celebrating its first completed year of observations.
An international team of astronomers led by the University of Cambridge have detected the most distant clouds of star-forming gas yet found in normal galaxies in the early Universe – less than one billion years after the Big Bang. The new observations will allow astronomers to start to see how the first galaxies were built up and how they cleared the cosmic fog during the era of reionisation. This is the first time that such galaxies have been seen as more than just faint blobs.
The Gaia satellite has discovered a unique binary system where one star is ‘eating’ the other, but neither star has any hydrogen, the most common element in the Universe. The system could be an important tool for understanding how binary stars might explode at the end of their lives.
Astronomers have detected wildly changing temperatures on a super Earth – the first time any atmospheric variability has been observed on a rocky planet outside the solar system – and believe it could be due to huge amounts of volcanic activity, further adding to the mystery of what had been nicknamed the ‘diamond planet’.
Astronomers have discovered a ‘treasure trove’ of rare dwarf satellite galaxies orbiting our own Milky Way. The discoveries could hold the key to understanding dark matter, the mysterious substance which holds our galaxy together.